South Korea, the nation of Kimchi has turned in recent years to a nation of coffee shops. In a city with more than 17,000 coffee shops (source: reuters), it’s not surprising that some of them are among the most extraordinary and bizarre themed cafe joints in the world! Korean themed cafes include ring making cafe, cat, dog and even sheep cafe, Hello Kitty themed cafe, Lego Cafe, selfie cafe and a photo studio cafe. Just think of a concept – there’s probably already a cafe in Seoul just like that!
Travelling in Seoul, It’s impossible to avoid the cafe craze. When I was planning my trip, I made sure to include a visit to some of its more unique cafes and dessert spots and I’m excited to share it with you. This guide includes a whopping 16(!) different cafes and dessert places for you to enjoy.
One of the most popular Korean dessert cafés with over 490 franchises all around Seoul and Korea. Japanese desserts inspired its founder to find a way to make Korean dessert more “high end”. They specialize in bingsu, a traditional shaved ice dessert which comes with various sweet toppings. In Sulbing you can find the original flavor of bingsu – Milk Red-bean Snowflakes Sherbet (7000₩ \ $6 \ 22.5₪) with chewy Injeolmi rice cake, and crunchy jujube chips. You can also find many other variations, such as mango, strawberries, Black Sesame and more.
Another signature dish here is the Injeolmi Toast. The Injeolmi Honey Butter Bread (6000₩ \ $5.5 \ 19₪) was very enjoyable. It had a gooey center and wasn’t overly sweet. We had it along with an excellent Strawberry Drink (5500₩ \ $5 \ 17.5₪) and a tasty Vanilla late (4500₩ \ $4 \ 14.5₪) that felt less like coffee and more like a milky vanilla beverage.
Visiting the Myeongdong branch has a bonus – the store is located on the second floor so you get a nice view of the crowded street.
2. Blind Alley
You’ve probably heard about dog and cat cafes, but did you know Seoul is also home to a raccoon cafe? Blind Alley is located at Yongsan-gu, close to the Sookmyung Women’s University. Here you’ll get a chance to get close up with two cute raccoons. There are two separate areas in Blind Alley – the cafe area, which is nice and cozy and the raccoon room, which is also cozy if you happen to be small and furry.
When you enter you get a menu as well an instruction page of dos and don’ts. Those tell you to get into the raccoon room with nothing in your pockets, meaning you have to leave your wallet and phone in the cafe area. When we entered the raccoon room there was another big group with us, and we all competed for the raccoons’ attention, but we were still able to enjoy it. The drinks we ordered, Sweet Potato Latte (6000₩ \ $5.5 \ 19₪) and Blueberry Smoothie (6500₩ \ $6 \ 21₪) were expensive and just OK.
I’ve read they now added an entrance fee, which detracts from the experience, especially if the raccoons are asleep. Try to aim for around 16:00, when they are usually awake (from my experience and from what I’ve read online).
3. Monster Cupcakes
Monster Cupcakes is such a fun place – a cupcake store that celebrates Halloween all year round! This tiny hole in the wall is tucked in Itaewon between many ethnic food joints: German, American, Italian, Mexican.. E.T. will welcome you inside, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by Jack-o’-Lanterns, skulls, giant hairy spiders, Chucky and other spooky toys\decor not for the faint of heart.
Don’t expect to find rainbows and unicorns inside. The cupcakes on display keep the same horror theme going. There is A Nightmare Before Christmas Vanilla cupcake, a Bleeding Finger Cafe Mocha, a R.I.P Tiramisu and more. We grabbed one of the two available tables inside to munch on a Strawberry Cupcake (5000₩ \ $4.5 \ 16₪) and Cherry Soda Drink (5500₩ \ $5 \ 17.5₪) that looks like a blood infusion bag! The cupcake not only looked great but also tasted wonderful. It was soft and fluffy with excellent butter cream icing and a delicate strawberry flavor.
Monster Cupcakes Online:
4. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
You probably all know you can get baked in San Francisco, but turns out it’s also possible to get baked in Seoul! Home to the worldwide sensation – the Cruffin, Mr Holmes Bakehouse opened its first branch overseas in one of the backstreets of Sinsa-dong. Don’t worry, the iconic ‘I got baked’ neon light sign is here as well! Besides the famous Cruffin they offer many other decadent pastries raging from 3800₩ ($3.5 \ 12₪) to 5800₩ ($5 \ 18.5₪).
Unfortunately, the cruffin was not available when I visited, so to compensate for my disappointment I got a box full of six other pastries and yep, I ate them all. All the pastries were absolutely fabulous: Ube Puff with Prickly Pear Glaze (looks like a puff pastry pop tart), Kouign Amann (round crusty cake), Plain Croissant, Sticky Bun with Salted Caramel and two Brioche Doughnuts coated in sugar – Melon and Strawberry. They were oozing with every bite.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Online:
Another “hidden” cafe located on the 2nd floor of one of Myeongdong’s busy streets, just across H&M. Patmiok offers traditional Korean desserts, similar to Sulbing, but slightly more expensive. These include Bingsu (shaved ice) made from 100% milk snowflake, Injeolmi (rice cake) Toasts and Red Bean Porridge. They also have an extensive drinks menu including natural teas, special lattes, frappe, smoothies and ades.
We tried the Blueberry Snowflake (10,500₩ \ $9 \ 33.5₪) as well as the Sweet Red Bean Porridge (6000₩ \ $5.5 \ 19₪). Compared to this kind of porridge I’ve had in Japan, this one was less sweet and more… hmm… beany. It had 2 pieces of jelly, which were so good I wish they put some more. It also had pieces of beans, almonds and chestnuts. The blueberries bingsu was tasty but gave me brain freeze with every bite.
6. Patisserie x Roastery imi
Located in the outskirts of the hippest neighborhood, Hongdae, this charming place is a true hidden gem and totally worth the detour. It’s also a great option to start the morning in a neighborhood that sleeps in (as most places open around 12-13). Besides being gorgeous, their desserts are also exquisite. The Creamy Orange Ice Flakes (6500₩ \ $6 \ 21₪) appears like an innocent coffee mug at first glance, but stores wonders inside. It’s so creamy and flavorful and hides little chunks of orange peel. It melts pretty quickly so eat it first, then drink!
After tasting so much mediocre coffee in Seoul, which was disappointing in general given the vast amount of coffee places, we had our hopes up for imi. After all, it has “..Roastery..” in the name! However their Cappuccino (4500₩ \ $4 \ 14.5₪) was lacking in aroma. It had nice creamy top and a touch of cinnamon but the coffee itself wasn’t very good. Their *hot* Strawberry Latte (5500₩ \ $5 \ 17.5₪), on the other hand, was incredible – with thick foam and chunks of strawberries.
Patisserie x Roastery imi Online:
7. Line Friends Cafe
Line Friends has dozens of branches mostly in Korea and China but also in Japan, Thailand and even NYC! Wonder who these characters are and how they became such a big hit? Well, the Line Friends characters were created as sticker characters for the Asian mobile messenger “LINE” in 2011 and quickly became a successful global brand with fans all around the world.
I visited the flagship store at Sinsa-dong that doesn’t only stack three stories worth of the cutest merchandise and offers photo ops galore but also includes a themed cafe (we’re here for food, aren’t we?). After queuing at the entrance to take a picture with the gigantic Brown the Bear, we headed downstairs to the cafe and ordered some goodies: Brown Chocolate Cookie (2500₩ \ $2 \ 8₪), Sally Sweet Pumpkin Cookie (2500₩ \ $2 \ 8₪), Macarons (300₩ \ $2.5 \ 9.5₪ each), Ice Cream and Green Tea.
Do note that the cakes and cupcakes are sold quickly so arrive early if you can. I had low expectations regarding the quality of these, but was surprised as most of the items I ordered were pretty good! I think a trip to Seoul won’t be complete without a visit to Line Friends to appease your inner child.
Line Friends Cafe Online:
8. Molly’s Pop
Tucked in one of Hongdae’s small alleys you’ll find Molly’s Pop, a small artisinal popsicle boutique offering some of the most unique flavors. Some of which you probably won’t find anywhere else. Each day they offer a variety of around 12-16 flavors such as Pina Colada, Lemon Basil, Wasabi, Strawberries and Wine, Milk Tea, injeolmi (rice cake) and even Beer! Each ice pop costs (3500₩ \ $3 \ 11₪).
The place is small (with a lot of cute knickknacks) but there are a few seats outside, and a huge giraffe plushy. We felt adventurous and got two alcoholic pops – Erdinger Beer and Kahlua Makgeolli (fermented rice wine), which were both very nice and pretty true to taste. The owners are very nice and friendly. They even tried to explain to us (unsuccessfully) why they chose Erdinger beer over other types of beer to make the pops..
Molly’s Pop Online:
9. Cacao Green
Cacao Green is hard to miss, as it’s not visible from the main street, located on the third floor on one of Myeongdong’s main streets. That’s also the advantage of this place – right in the heart of Seoul but far from the busy, noisy street. This place looks like a chocolate lover’s heaven – with great variety of chocolate drinks and desserts. It’s warm, cozy, and boasts interesting displays of the types of cocoa used.
We ordered the Strawberry Gelato Pie Set with Ice Chocolate Drink (17,800₩ \ $16 \ 57₪) as well as Cappuccino (4300₩ \ $4 \ 14₪). The coffee was a disappointment, very bitter and watery with no aroma. The dessert was also a bit disappointing as the puff pastry had an industrial taste. It could have really turned a nice dessert to an amazing one. Their chocolate drink, however, was indeed a delight with a generous head of fat and heavy whipped cream.
Cacao Green Online:
In the ground floor of the huge fashion mall Doota you’ll find Remicone, a soft serve joint inside a bizarre combination of a truck and a lab. There are two options – you can either customize your own soft serve or order a set option from their menu. No matter what you choose, though, I guarantee that you’ll get the most Instagram-worthy ice cream.
Their ice cream combinations on their Special Menu are so appealing I saw no reason to come up with something of my own. The Thunder Bomb (6100₩ \ $5.5 \ 19.5₪) was made from vanilla soft serve with Pop Rocks, minty cotton candy and lightning bolt candy. It was so fun to eat, simply incredible! The neat thing about this dish is that you experience it with multiple senses. Not only does it look like a stormy cloud – it has the texture of one. The pop rocks provide sound and vibration, and the mint provides a cooling sensation. It’s a brilliant and creative invention, since the narrative of the ice cream dish is enhanced by the mechanic of eating it. The Hawaiian Beach (5300₩ \ $4.5 \ 17₪) with blue sauce and coconut flakes was also good but not as ingenious as the Thunder Bomb.
11. Poop Cafe
Poop Cafe or Ddong Cafe is a coffee shop which mastered the art of turning poop into something cute and adorable. You see, in South Korea poop symbolizes fortune and good luck. I’m glad that by the time we reached Seoul the poop-mania was already packaged into a cute, smiling and consumer-friendly format.
The cafe is located at the top floor of Ssamziegil, a colorful arts and crafts shopping center located on the famous Insadong street. The food and drinks here are served inside cute toilet-shaped mugs and plates, and some of the food even resembles poop (luckily in its iconic form). The dishes are super aesthetic as well! No need to worry about any horror\disgusting stories here. From Ddo-ong Scone (₩800 \ ₪2.5 \ $0.7) to Flower Ade (₩6000 \ ₪20.5 \ $5.5) and Rose Coffee (₩8000 \ ₪27.5 \ $7), everything is tasty and instagrammable!
If you’re visiting Seoul, Ddong cafe is a must visit. Not only is it playful and fun, but the quality of its beverages and sweets is surprisingly good, not to mention a great story to tell back home.
Read the full story here.
Ddong Cafe Online:
12. Cafe B-Hind
Cafe B-Hind was one of the spots we visited on our Hongdae Coffee-Hopping, something you might also enjoy if you’re reading this post! Unfortunately it was the one we liked the least. First off, because it was the weekend they force you to order drinks on top of the food. Secondly, not only did we have to wait long for our order, they also mixed it up. This was extra frustrating given how hard it was to communicate with the waiter who didn’t speak any English and rambled on and on in Korean. Maybe it’s just the weekend but still, regardless of the language barrier the service was just bad.
We ordered Sugar Blueberry French Toast (3500₩ \ $3 \ 11₪), Croquet Monsieur (9000) as well as Iced Tea (5000₩ \ $4.5 \ 16₪) and San Pellegrino (4500₩ \ $4 \ 14.5₪). The dishes were meh. The French toast was completely soggy and raw and the croquet was lacking flavor. The frozen veggies on the side and mushy cherry tomatoes tasted like defrosted food.
Cafe B-Hind Online:
13. La Douce
La Douce was also part of our Hongdae Coffee-Hopping and was one of our loved ones. What makes La Douce so unique? They specialize in 3D latte foam art and their signature cake is shaped like an iconic slice of cheese, Tom & Jerry style! Besides the cheesecake, they also make mille crêpe cakes, strawberry shortcakes and cream rolls. The place is not very big and has a french flare to it.
To drink we ordered iced latte and hibiscus lemonade. My coffee was topped with adorable foam art in the shape of a teddy bear. We could spot foam cats peeking from other tables as well. The lemonade was mildly sweet and had flowery notes. The food and drinks not only looked impressive but also tasted very good. We paid 20,500₩ / $18 / 69₪ for two drink and a cheesecake, which we felt were justified.
Read the full story here.
La Douce Online:
O’sulloc Tea House is a themed cafe which specializes in green tea. Besides traditional green tea they also offer cakes, ice cream, chocolate, latte and bingsu (ice flakes). In addition you can purchase green tea and tea merchandise. It is a complete heaven for green tea lovers!
Everything we had there was phenomenal – the cold Strawberry Green Tea Latte (6000₩ / $5 / 20₪) was a wonderful blend, the hot Apple Honey Tea Latte (7000₩ / $6 / 23.5₪) was foamy with little floaty bits in it, and Samdayeon Caramel Roll (5000₩ / $4.5 / 17₪) was soft and fluffy with just the right balance between sponge and cream. If you’re a green tea lover and would love to get a taste of the Korean tea culture in a cozy, easy-going place then I would definitely recommend you check them out.
Read the full story here.
15. Dore Dore
Dore Dore is a dessert cafe with a bunch of locations around Seoul. The display counter at Dore Dore is mesmerizing and includes a wide selection of freshly baked, multi-layer cream cakes, including the rainbow cake which they are known for.
I wasn’t in the mood for something sweet (unbelievable, right?) but was definitely in the mood for some rainbow goodness. The Rainbow Bagel (5000₩ \ $4.5 \ 16₪) comes with cream cheese on the side. As much as it’s simple – a bagel with mildly sweet cream cheese – it was really tasty. Around us were many cute couples sharing vivid cakes and ice beverages to the sound of K-pop music.
Dore Dore Online:
16. Philippines Dessert Cafe
If you’re visiting Bukchon Hanok Village (and you definitely shouldn’t miss it!) Philippines Dessert Cafe has a great location for a quick stop to relax in a hot, humid day (especially if you’re wearing a rented Hanbok).
On their menu you’ll find different tropical-themed shakes and desserts. When we were visiting however, they only served drinks for some reason. We ordered Strawberry-Pineapple Shake (6000₩ \ $5.5 \ 19₪) and Banana-Blueberry Shake (6000₩ \ $5.5 \ 19₪). The shakes are served in cute bottles with knotted straws.