A Stroll through Samcheong-dong (삼청동)

Yesterday, I decided to head north of the river and explore Seoul’s Samcheong-dong (삼청동) neighbourhood.

Located just north of Anguk Station and the traditional area of Insadong, Samcheong-dong boasts a number of artsy cafés, boutiques, and restaurants.

Despite the sweltering heat and humidity, I decided to head out for a quick jaunt – and by “quick jaunt”, I mean that I walked across the city from Gwangjang Market! It was worth it though, since it was the first time Seoul’s been sunny for a while, in this summer that many are dubbing “the longest monsoon season ever”.

Anyways, here are some photos I snapped up during my stroll:

(PS: check out my review of Café W.E., a fantastic Korean-Western fusion dessert café located in Samcheong-dong)

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁)

Walking past Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) on my way from Gwangjang Market

A bicycle outside a cafe

A bicycle outside a cafe

Wall painting near the southern entrance to Samcheong-dong

Wall painting near the southern entrance to Samcheong-dong

Typical Samcheong-dong café fare: ice cream waffles and other sweet treats!

Typical Samcheong-dong café fare: ice cream waffles and other sweet treats!

Samcheong-dong (4 of 7)

Graffitied doors on a traditional Korean house (hanok) restaurant

Graffitied doors on a traditional Korean house (hanok) restaurant

Cute clothes

Cute clothes

Jewelry on sale

Jewelry on sale

The tree-lined street of Samcheong-dong

The tree-lined street of Samcheong-dong

Jewelry boutique having a sale

Jewelry boutique having a sale

Bus #11, which takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market.

Bus #11, which takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market.

Interesting sculpture near the entrance to Samcheong-dong

Interesting sculpture near the entrance to Samcheong-dong

Random storefront

Random storefront

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Animal knick-knacks

Art gallery

Art gallery

Funky Starbucks-inspired set - they were cheap! Too bad the gallery was closed.

Funky Starbucks-inspired set – they were cheap! Too bad the gallery was closed.

At the gallery

At the gallery

Alleyway in Samcheong-dong

Alleyway in Samcheong-dong

Art on an alley wall

Art on an alley wall

Stairs leading to a restaurant

Stairs leading to a restaurant

French restaurant

French restaurant

Samcheong-dong (18 of 39) Samcheong-dong (19 of 39)

Giant ring outside of a shop

Giant ring outside of a shop

Locals browsing in a boutique

Locals browsing in a boutique

Cute clothes

Cute clothes

"Vintage" clothes

“Vintage” clothes

Incredibly over-priced "vintage" shop

Incredibly over-priced “vintage” shop

Hello Kitty Café

Hello Kitty Café

Chocolate shop

Chocolate shop

Samcheong-dong (27 of 39) Samcheong-dong (28 of 39)

Clothes for display outside

Clothes for display outside

A little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside?

A little shrine to the Virgin Mary outside?

Cute buidling

Cute buidling

Designer space

Designer space

Samcheong-dong (33 of 39) Samcheong-dong (34 of 39)

Retro Pie shop

Retro Pie shop

Samcheong-dong (36 of 39)

Café W.E. - Korean and Western fusion, featuring things like sweet red bean fondue and hotteok pancakes!

Café W.E. – Korean and Western fusion, featuring things like sweet red bean fondue and hotteok pancakes!

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Artsy storefront

Samcheong-dong is located downtown, right next to Seoul’s famous Gyeongbokgong Palace.

Most stores open around 10:30am-11:00am and close around 7:00pm-10:00pm.

Directions:

• Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1) – 10 minutes on foot
• Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 5) – 20 minutes on foot

Map of Samcheong-dong (Photo: Visit Korea)

Map of Samcheong-dong (Photo: Visit Korea)

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Korean Fusion Dessert at Café W.E. (West ‘n East)

As part of my “be a tourist in your own town” week today, I decided to visited Seoul’s artsy Samcheong-dong  (삼청동) area, which is accesible from Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1).

I’d briefly visited it before last fall, but I didn’t really take any photos. So I thought I’d come back today, and do the “thing” to do in Samcheong-dong, which is browse boutiques and check out a dessert café.

Now, I’d been watching Arirang TV special that featured a new Korean-Western fusion dessert café. What caught my eye were these delicious-looking hotteok/pancake things, and the sweet red bean fondue (served with sweet, chewy rice cakes, tteok, for dipping).

–> “Hotteok – 호떡” (pronounced “hoh duck”), is a popular Korean street food, served mainly in the winter. It’s almost like a fried-pancake dumpling, made of a thin batter, and filled with sugar and powdered nuts that turn to a syrup when fried.

I looked it up online and found its name:  W.E. (West ‘n East). This is supposed to acknowledge the two influences (Western and Eastern) in its cooking.

I had no intentions of going there today, but as I was wandering around the back streets of Samcheong-dong, I found it by accident. And, since I was already hungry, it seemed like a sign!

Oh, and if the Arirang video wasn’t enough, you can check out this SBS one featuring a cute Korean guy (skip to 1:14 for the review):

The service was fantastic. Upon opening the menu, I noticed that they’d just made a new fusion item: MAKKGEOLLICINNO (makgeolli + frappuccino). I was ecstatic! It even came with a warning that one glass could make you drunk (sold!).

–> For those who don’t know, makgeolli is a traditional Korean rice wine, with a milky body and sweet taste. 

Since I consider myself a bit of a makgeolli connoisseur, I felt I had to order it. I knew I would soon regret the decision, since my tolerance for lactose is slowly dwindling, but I felt hey – it’s my last week in Korea!

Makgeollicinno!

Makgeollicinno!

It was so worth it – and since I was warned upon ordering that the famous hotteok-pancakes would take about 20 minutes to prepare, it was nice to have something to snack on while waiting.

But DAMN – this thing is strong! I understand why they had the warning label ^_^ It’s also quite large. I think two people could probably share one, since it’s very heavy like a milkshake. I think I understood it as being a makgeolli + cappuccino  but it was definitely closer to a Starbucks frappuccino.

Shortly after, the hotteok-pancakes arrived!

The hotteok/pancakes

The hotteok/pancakes

Spectacular presentation

Spectacular presentation

See how thick the hotteok are??

See how thick the hotteok are??

Need I say more?

These were divine! Definitely something for two people to share, though, since the hotteok are so thick and are STUFFED. The filling is made up of sugar, nuts and berries, an untraditional hotteok ingredient for sure.

I’m a sucker for any kind of dessert that mixes warmth with cold, so to have this warm hotteok served with ice cream was just perfection. The two create an irresistible contrast, especially if you take a bit of the peanut powder and caramel with the ice cream, and top it with the warm berry compote before eating it with a piece of hotteok. I should’ve taken a photo of that.

Looks like a warzone!

Looks like a warzone!

So delicious

So delicious

Sadly, this was a classic case of “my eyes were bigger than my stomach”, so I felt very bad to have to waste so much.

I felt like Buddha walking out though – calm, content, and with a fat belly!

Interior in the front

Interior in the front

Hallway leading to the back

Hallway leading to the back

The kitchen and front end

The kitchen and front end

Tables in the front

Tables in the front

Banner outside the restaurant

Banner outside the restaurant

W.e.: "West and East"

W.e.: “West and East”

Restaurant exterior

Restaurant exterior

Café W.E. also has locations in Hongdae and Sinsa-dong.

To get to the one in Samcheong-dong, follow the map on Café W.E.’s website here.

Their menu is also online here.

  • Hours: 11:00am to 11:00pm from Monday to Friday; 12:00pm to 10:00pm on Sundays
  • Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1)
  • Address (Korean): 서울 종로구 팔판동 43-2 [더블유이]
  • Address (English): W, 43-2, Palpan-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul
  • Phone: +82-2-739-0919
  • Facebook: facebook.com/WestnEast
  • Twitter: @WestnEast
  • Website: www.westneast.co.kr