Korean Breakfasts and visiting the Coffee Prince Cafe in Hongdae (Was it the REAL One?)

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Last Updated on May 27, 2020 by Christine Kaaloa

SAM 392669 The Coffee Prince Cafe Hongdae Seoul & the notion of a Korean breakfast


I was in Seoul for my birthday weekend with my friend, Chance, when the urge for Sunday morning brunch struck.  We were starving and in the mood for a lazy meal at café.  Our café requirements?…

Funky, trendy, Seoul-ish

(we were being girlie)  So we went to Hongdae.

But then the same conundrum that always arises around finding food in Korea, …did. What to eat? … No.  Where.

Being a veggie traveler in Korea is always daunting around meal time. Where do you find a restaurant with food menus in English? I’m still reliant upon picture menus and finding those kind of menus take time. Until now, it’s never occurred to me that even in a cosmopolitan city, such as Seoul, finding a café to have brunch at requires effort!

Koreans and Breakfast Brunch?

Aah… brunch at a Korean café. Easy solution, right? That’s what Chance and I thought.

You’re probably thinking… coffee and a lightly toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese or an egg. Or maybe yogurt, a fruit cup, a salad or split pea soup! Whoa, cowboy…

Brunch is a western concept and for busy and time-occupied westerners, it’s very common to skimp on breakfast or skip it all together!  This is not something a Korean would do.

What is breakfast to Koreans?

For Koreans, not having breakfast is a big ‘No-No’. In fact, to Koreans, breakfast is the most important meal of your day!  Thus, the brunch dishes I mentioned above, along with scrambled eggs, vegetable salads and sandwiches (in any form) are not common dishes in cafes. In fact, the only eateries you’d typically find these foods are in a western(ized) restaurant.

When I first arrived at my Korean school, each morning my co-teachers would greet me with:

How was your breakfast?

Awkward, right?

Good Morning, Christine! How was your breakfast?

This was my teachers’ daily standard greeting to me. It happened so frequently it grew uncomfortable. So I lied. I didn’t have the heart to tell them the truth about me and breakfast– that most of the time, I didn’t have it!

Why disappoint people?

What’s the most popular dish served at Korean cafes ?

So what do cafes in Korea serve other than coffee?

Waffle  and crêpe desserts!

You may think I’m kidding but I’m not. To some, that might qualify as a form of a breakfast, but to Chance and I , this was dessert and we were on diets! Waffle after waffle, after waffle, all smothered with dollops of whipped creme, ice cream, chocolate drizzles, etc…  A request for “a slice of healthy” seemed like a tall order.

Half an hour into our search, it seemed we’d be collapsing to a western restaurant. Quiznos, Dos Tacos and a Subway were all gearing up for a game of  Ki-Bi-Bo! (aka the Korean version of the Rock, Paper, Scissors).  What to do?

Chance & I find an interesting crepe cafe with a wide assortment  (waffles desserts are very similar to these)crepe dessert

 The Coffee Prince Cafe (or Tiramisu Cafe)

I was momentarily distracted by a familiar sign (see top photo) drew my attention and pulled me into a side alley.

If you’re a K-drama fanatic like my mom is, you’ll recognize the faces of on the photo at the top, from the once popular television series, The Coffee Prince!  The show takes place in a café and is about the characters which work there.  Tucked off in one of the Hongdae café alleys and neighbor to the Hello Kitty Cafe, rests the Tiramisu Cafe. The name is misleading as many MBC fans really know it as the Coffee Prince Cafe, as it was once the set background for the show.

Read How to Make your own Korean Drama Tour

We stepped inside the small two-story eatery and explored. Did it look anything like the show? Maybe I didn’t remember the location correctly, because exactly nothing felt reminiscent of series, except for the framed posters and photos from the show.

Was this cafe our godsend… our prince? Unfortunately not.

The menu still ranged from coffees to desserts and everything felt a bit overpriced.

SAM 391772

coffee prince cafe seoul

coffee prince cafe

coffee prince cafe


Additional information:

Download a pdf of the Seoul Metro map
download seoul metro map

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Petra Restaurant Itaewon

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  • Hello,
    Those waffles and crepes look delicious. I am going to South Korea soon. Where can I find that cafe?

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  • […] coffee and your standard Starbucks-like assortment of baked goods and sandwiches. (What… no Korean waffle desserts?!) They also sold packages of coffee beans  and Gorilla in the Cafe paraphenalia to buy such as […]

  • Hey, it’s me again. I’ve just arrived in Korea and wanted to say that a friend too me to Butterfinger Pancakes in Sunae, Bundang – suburb of Seoul. Pretty good stuff, especially the blueberry pancakes.
    And thanks for all your posts! They are really helpful and interesting!

    • @Barbara: Wow– There’s a place called Butterfinger pancakes? That’s awesome! Have a great time here and if you discover anything cool, give me a shout out! BTW– I haven’t posted this yet, but if you have time, check out a DMZ tour through the USO. I’m not a history or political buff, but I thought it was really good.

  • “How was your breakfast?” Hee. If someone greeted me with the line, I would give them the weirdest look. But I do agree that breakfast should not be skipped. I wish I had time for a large, healthy breakfast every morning instead of a quick English muffin. G&B looks great–you can sit outside to eat!

    • @Gray: I know- first couple of times I got asked that, my weird look was hidden beneath my smile. It’s like cultural confusion. I was like- “what the hell is up with the breakfast thing?! Oh, another person too?!” But yes, a bit shameful of me for doing the breakfast skip at times. I’m getting a little better tho! And on our behalf, I don’t have many friends in the U.S. who eat breakfast other than a muffin, bagel or coffee. 😉

  • Your blog just makes me laugh. Knowing someone out there is going through the same thing as I do. I’m in Daegu right now and there are many restoraunts to choose from. Only problem is, I only get to eat the one with the picture on the menu because I don’t know what the rest of it are. No bad food experience so far, fortunately. Everything seems to be what they depict in the picture. I’m in the southern Daegu and I’ve walked blocks trying to find a ‘familiar’ fastfood and I haven’t really been lucky at that. Maybe this weekend, I’ll go to downtown and find myself a pizza fix. … and oh, I also plan to do some “Seoul-searching” while I’m here in Korea. Keep on writing! 🙂

    • @Eileen: Thanks– I appreciate your comment. Picture menus are a godsend & it’s something most of us go thru & are still going thru. While I’ve gotten better at reading Hangul, it doesn’t make much of a difference…. sad but true. Try checking out Banwoldang– in the center, you of that shopping area you easily find some familiar joints and then it spirals out to Pizza Hut. Lotte 24 is like a McDs and there’s a joint called Gorilla Burger (they actually have a veggie burger & good bread– it’s tasty). The pizza’s here aren’t bad, but you don’t always have the tomato sauce taste. Bibimbap and kimbap (sushi rolls) are the easy & cheap food staple that most expat & tourists like. But I would suggest having one of your Korean colleagues take you to a restaurant & share their culture with you. The food here is really good, but you’ll only best discover it if you have a local recommend something.
      @ Barbara: Thanks– yes, I’ve heard of Everland, as well as Lotte World. Korea has many theme parks– it seems that every city has one of a couple, but who knows, I might try one out one of these days!

  • Just read about Everland in Suwon the other day on Heather’s blog, http://yearofkimchi.blogspot.com/ . You’ll have to scroll down a bit and it was last year, but maybe the place is still there. So, for the next time you’re in Seoul.

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