A while back, I wrote a post about cafes and Koreans and the subject of breakfast. This is a followup on some of the cafes…
There’s nothing half-hearted about Korea.
You can add cute cafes to that list too.
Koreans and the ‘cute factor’.
Seoul’s Hongdae district is teeming with funky cafes and we’re not talking just Starbucks. No. The hip and popular mecca of collegiate bars and restaurants, also houses ‘theme’ cafes from cute to off-beat. Maybe its because Koreans rewards ‘innocence’ and ‘virtue’ (over ‘adult’ and ‘sexy’) , that their culture strives towards all-things-cute. From pet cafes, where you can sip on a latte as your cat or dog does their social romp to a Charlie Brown Cafe with Peanuts images drizzled on desserts, Hongdae’s nooks offers some adorable ways to stay caffeinated.
Well Hello Kitty, you’ve got your own cafe!
When my mom was visiting me over the Christmas holidays, she vigilantly wrote emails to my family back home. I’m posting a short excerpt of her café day, so I can take a break from writing:
“After lunch, we went exploring in Hongdae. Chris bought me another thing for my hands, saying it was longer so it could go a little ways up above my wrists.
| …it’s called “arm warmers”, Mom.
Even though Hongdae is known mostly for its social and night life than shopping, they have enough hair salons, street sellers and clothes boutiques to distract you from your destination. |
We found a place called Hello Kitty Cafe and went in to look around and take pictures. “
In Korea, why are you given two spoons if you’re ordering a dish for yourself?
“We ended up sharing a dessert.
In Korea, they always assume you’re sharing with someone and always give two spoons. Korea is kinda funny that way.
| When ordering dessert, you’re always given two spoons. Even when you’re alone. Why is that?
Korea is a ‘sharing’ culture, placing the idea of ‘community’ over the ‘individual’. From eating street food at a hawker stand and sharing a communal dipping sauce with strangers to friends dipping their spoons into the same soup bowl at dinner . Koreans share everything, to the point where if they had only one cookie, they’d break it in half and share it with you. |
So we got this dessert – a waffle with a Dairy Queen type lump of yogurt. Anyway, it had a drizzle of strawberry syrup on it. On the plate, in one corner, was a picture of Hello Kitty made with chocolate powder, so you could eat it!
We enjoyed our dessert. Chris says there is a lot ‘o this waffle and ice cream things in Korea (read here).
To find cool cafes in Hongdae, you must explore
“Leaving Hello Kitty café, we walked to a place that she said was the café for the K-drama show “Coffee Prince”. It was really small and somehow didn’t look like the café on the show, but they advertise it as the place. Maybe it just looked bigger in the movie.
We found a place called Cats Living, a cat café (a blog review here). Went to look. Lots of cats of all kinds and people having drinks while the cats roam all over the place. The man wanted to charge us 8,000 won entrance fee, so we left.”
| There are many gems tucked away in Hongdae. If you only keep to the main streets or your focus locked solely on street-level, you’ll miss a lot. There are many off-shoot alleyways and joints resting on second to third floors of buildings.
For instance, pet cafes like the Bau House (Dogmattica‘s map here), Tom Cat’s Cafe ( once a traveler‘s review here) or Cats Living (Korean website here) are discovered through looking up at the store signs, which climb along a building. My mom was right about the Coffee Prince cafe not looking like the original café of the show. I did some research and found that ‘Tirimisu Cafe‘ is part of the franchised version that MBC built later. The real C.P. café is much larger and surrounded by trees (read arncyn’s Squidoo post). |
Tiramisu Cafe , its newer, franchised sister is located near the Hello Kitty Cafe.
Have you been to any cute or quirky theme cafes?