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)
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!
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!
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!
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
Hallway leading to the back
The kitchen and front end
Tables in the front
Banner outside the restaurant
W.e.: “West and East”
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.