SEOUL DIARIES 040: KOREAN SULBING 설빙

SULBING gets a new location in downtown Hongdae! 설빙, loosely translated into 雪冰, is the Korean traditional shaved ice dessert. What this cafe does better than most – instead of plain tasteless ice, the dessert is prepared with creamy, frozen milk flakes. Coupled with some piping hot coffee, what the menu offers is basically perfect for tea break in warmer seasons.

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The milk-and-red-bean shaved ice comes with almond and nuts shavings, sweet injeolmi (soft mochi cubes), red bean paste and loads of milk! It has become a strange routine of mine to have shaved ice for breakfast, since the weather in Seoul hasn’t yet begun to turn cold. Nothing beats a cold bowl of happiness to start the day!

At Sulbing you will be able to get the traditional injeolmi bingsoo as well as unconventional creations such as sweet potato, caramel coffee, blueberry red bean, blueberry and cheese, and mango cheese bingsoo. Cafes in Korea always make me feel spoilt for choices.

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The store is a 3minutes walk from Hapjeong Station (Subway Line 2 and Seoul Subway Line 6), across the road from Hongik Children’s Park. Totally convenient and easy to locate. Go forth and conquer!IMG_3517.JPG

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KOREAN SULBING 설빙

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 039: CAFE LEEMAN’S COLLECTION KITCHEN 리맨즈홍대점

An afternoon at Cafe Leeman’s Collection Kitchen in the Hongik University vicinity. Hongdae is by far my favourite spot for chilling whenever I’m needing space and anonymity without being physically solitary. In this part of town you could be surrounded by throngs of milling university students and still feel comfortably ignored. You know what I mean?

Anyhoo, Cafe Leeman’s is on Hongdae’s main busiest street. The cafe’s chirpy yellow-on-blue signage is both a touch of class and a breathe of fresh air from the overpopulation of low-budget, hipster-wannabes. I wasn’t hungry as yet, hence all I had was an earl grey milk iced-tea. Slow to serve as they had hit their peak 5pm rush-hour, I waited a full 15 minutes for my tea. Meantime I managed to get a few snapshots in. Thankfully, the artsy-fartsy people of Hongdae were just the right people for an over-enthusiastic Asian snap-a-holic (with a huge red camera) to blend in with. Am loving Leeman’s laid-back interior, it still manages to keep the Leeman’s brand a cut above mainstream indie coffeehouses. If you’re looking for good food, clean tables and a good cuppa, this is the place to be.

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Cafe Leeman’s Collection Kitchen 리맨즈홍대점

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 038: CAFE BELLA PRAHA

One truly amazing (albeit solitary) afternoon at Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University (Edae), I chanced upon Cafe Bella Praha, one of those down-to-earth coffee places tucked away in an alley off the beaten track like a well-hidden secret. Had my craving for ice-cold desserts satiated with a matcha green tea bingsoo topped with red bean paste, and was pleasantly surprised that the toppings thoughtfully came in a separate dish, so you could actually control how much to drown out your ice-matcha. Might I add, the matcha did not taste syrupy – it had that fragrant taste of fresh brewed matcha in an ice-cold bowl. You know how much I love matcha desserts? This one really exceeded my expectations!

Bella Praha only hires the best. The barista (or was he the boss?) was so soft-spoken, gentle and thoughtful. Seeing as I was alone, he personally took my order, at the table, and ensured I had a cup of water with sufficient napkins. Only in Seoul, baristas get my heart aflutter!

Well, expect only the best of coffees from Bella Praha. To the barista’s credit, I overheard his lengthy, patient explanation to an elderly couple on the difference between coffee beans from different regions of the world. To tip the scale, you get to choose the brewing method for your coffee: espresso, hand drip, cotton-flannel drip, syphon, or Dutch style. Plus, there’s no lack of pastry choices from the cafe’s hand-made selection. This place is so worth a second visit, just to feel like a princess in a sweet homely coffeehouse.

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벨라프라하
56-63 Daehyeon-dong Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
02-363-3559

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 037: SHOPPING AND CAFE CULTURE ON EWHA WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY STREET

Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University (also known as Edae) is a district bursting with youthful vigour. You will love this place if, like me, you have a thing for affordable vintage labels, understated hairpieces, independently designed jewellery, and in general quirky finds. That aside, if you’re looking for loud colourful accessories, branded and no-label patent leather bags, or even rock-chick and gothic outfits, there’s also a healthy range of specialty stores catering to very unique requests and needs!

Street stalls and independent shops open for business as early as 9:30am, while students from neighbouring universities begin their daily pilgrimage to their campus. Snacks and all kinds of knick knacks are sold from cubicle sized push-carts, mostly to tourists and youngsters bypassing on their way to school. With no lack of mani-pedi boutiques, salons, beauty clinics and pampering studios, I could spend a leisurely week living in this area if I had the luxury of time. There’s just so much to do and see! Contrary to popular belief, Ewha is not strictly a women-only zone – more than a handful shops do cater to fashion and retail for men.

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The famous Gigantic Pink Shoe outside Top Ten @ Ewha: tourists scramble to take photos with this
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Singapore Toast is gaining some fame: this place was jam-packed!
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I liked the fact that big brands are slotted in with independent labels and designer couture – a refreshing mix of high end with retail stores that doesn’t burn a hole in the pockets of poor university students (I know that life).

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You know you’re in a hippie place when cutesy stores sell everything and anything – hairclips, incense burners, furniture, desk organizers, placemats, braded rugs, coffee mugs, bookends, laptop covers and passport holders. All done while maintaining its cutesy demeanour.

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Cafe culture in Korea generally thrives in university districts – Hongdae and Edae are very prominent examples of coffee paradise. Edae’s collection of indie coffee houses feeds throngs of students needing their daily caffeine fix. On this day I happened to chance across Caffe Zudy, a large scale Westernized coffee house with a couple of franchises across Seoul. My iced latte was more bitter than any coffees I’ve had in Korea, meaning they used a darker roast and also zero syrup in their drinks. Pure coffee and milk. I think my tired body enjoyed the shot of caffeine. I liked it.

Caffe Zudy Ewha University

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No lack of cafes in the area: see what I mean?

Caffe Zudy 카페쥬디 이대본점

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 031: CARRIED AWAY

Oh you know how it is. Once started, shopping can get absolutely frenzied. Just a day in Apgujeong and my summer luggage threatened to explode at its seams. Fall is my favourite season for shopping anywhere in the world. It’s neither too hot for brisk-walking in the streets nor too cold for chilling with a sugar-filled cup of gelato goodness. Seoul’s summer and fall fashions are just perfect for my own country’s year-round tropical climate.

There exists an underground bags and leather goods store in uptown Garosugil, the likes of which you may find similar to Taiwan’s Ximending and Japan’s Shibuya. No signs for the store has been put up, and the only clue of its existence are the low white racks lined with select samples of bags, purses and clutches. Along the main street, an unimpressive patch of synthetic grass paves the way to the shop’s main tiny main entrance, which leads to a stairway to an impressive storage basement – the shop’s main deck. If you’re into vintage non-designer, this is the place for you. Happy hunting!
Side note for the bag aficionados: Simone Handbag Museum in the 10-storey Bagstage building (also in Apgujeong) is a place you absolutely have to go!

20140713-020835-7715982.jpg❤ Beaded leather lippie clutch / sling bag from that store in Garosugil at a jaw-dropping low price. Ask me if you wanna know!

 

This time round, I did less shopping than my previous solo-venture to Seoul.
Banila Co. is a brand I’ve only recently come to love and appreciate! Targeted at ladies in their mid to late twenties (which I’m fast approaching), I find their products more OL-oriented. Definitely less cutesy or annoyingly bubbly like Etude House or Tony Moly. They come in more sophisticated packaging with less exotic names, and since I’ve heard only good things about their products I decided to give these a try.

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Missha has got a magnificent range of nail polishes! Got these lovely bright pink and fuchsia colours to match my lippies from Banila Co. and Too Cool for School. Both of which are tiny and so easy to carry around for touch-ups. Banila Co. lippies are way longer-lasting though, and this is coming from someone who at times has to wear makeup for more than 18 hours straight.20140713-020840-7720023.jpg

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A really handy retractable travel-sized brush from Banila Co.! Love it.20140713-020835-7715231.jpg

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This trip, I didn’t get any of of my usual cheap round lenses. Instead, I opted for something more hygienic and safe. Definitely pricier than my norm but since my eyes were recently hit by conjunctivitis, I’ve gone over to the safe side.20140713-020832-7712898.jpg

Time to start loving my eyes. And to hopefully reduce those stubborn bruises on my eyebags.20140714-003445-2085358.jpg

Gel nail polishes at a steal! The LED light machines from MODI are comparable to the ones I got from the states.20140714-003447-2087821.jpg

Some light scent for travelling around. These actually smell pretty good and stays for a long long time.20140714-003446-2086208.jpg

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More of my beauty loot from various cosmetic giants. Face masks – I’ll never give them a miss.20140714-003448-2088691.jpg

 

Seeing as I’m returning to Seoul in August (for other reasons), there’s never an end to my Korean beauty/cosmetics/makeup loot. I gave up on The Face Shop – their products are such placebos with zero positive effects whatsoever. Trust me guys, not all the fancy cosmetics stores in Korea have excellent products as advertised. It’s a trial and error thing, you’ll know once you’ve tried.

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean