Korea, as we may know it, is not only home to our favourite K-Pop Idols and stars that constantly leave us in some kind of a ditzy daydream, the endless K-dramas that we binge-watch for hours on end and the beauty products which promise glowing skin, but also, it is home to a bunch of Cafés that market and attract people with their unique concepts that one would not come across elsewhere in the world.
For those who’ve yet to make their virgin trip to the Land of Morning Calm (as they would’ve called South Korea in the past) or for those planning to head back, here’s a curated guide of cafés which we’ve handpicked that goes beyond the underwhelming and run-of-the-mill experience that typical cafés would usually offer.
On first looks, Onion Café looks like your typical café which can be found anywhere, even right here in Singapore, with its industrial-themed decor. However, that industrial touch which Onion Café has integrated is as real and authentic as it can get. Some interesting historical context which lies at the centre of this café – the Seongsu-dong district, where Onion Café is located was once like those industrial areas teeming with cars, smoke and small factories lined up next to each other that we often see in the movies.
A supermarket, restaurant, a repair shop and most recently, a metal factory, the area which Onion Café sits on has eventually, settled into the café that it is today. Yet, they have actively embraced their roots by retaining all of it’s old, rustic factory elements which have withstood the test of time while adding modern features with a highlight being a garden on its rooftop terrace (perfect Instagram opportunity?). Do walk in and expect a decor perfectly balanced between the old and new which melds into a spacious industrial-chic space that is now a favourite spot for young people to have their afternoon cuppa.
The unique factor of this cafe is not only limited to it’s history and decor but also, extends to its menu with the café selling over 20 varieties of bread selections and pastries, all of which, are made in-house so fret not, there is definitely a pastry that would suit your palate. Though, some recommendations which you should definitely heed would be their signature Pandor (Golden Bread) which is essentially, a fluffy, pinnacle-shaped bread that is covered in powdered sugar,the famed Bread 05 Butter Bread or the Ciabatta with Butter and Red Beans. Wildly popular and usually sold out by the early afternoon, we’d suggest that you head down to Onion Café to have a taste of these pastries.
8, Achasan-ro 9-gil
Monday – Friday, 8AM-10PM
Saturday – Sunday, 10AM-10PM
How to get there:
Approx. 2 minutes walk from Line 2, Seongsu Station Exit 2.
Walk straight and turn left at the first small street.
You will see the café on your right.
From its name, one can already imagine the concept which this café holds. For those still bewildered, it’s not that difficult – the concept of this café is as literal as its name. It is a farm in the sky, though with a lot more additional elements which adds to the glamourised yet tranquil ambience of this place.
Located on the 50th floor of the KTI Tower in Seoul, you would probably have an expectation of the view that you’d get while dining. Here’s an idea- making a reservation by the window seat would probably get you a smashing view of pretty much, the Seoul skyline which includes the Han River, Yeouido Park and a bird’s eye view of all the helicopter landing pads located at the top of the city buildings.
Outdoor views aside, the view made up by the interior decorations are superb as well. Stepping into The Skyfarm is like stepping into a majestic indoor greenhouse painted by the hues of the brown parquet and white structured framings with a refreshing splash of green contributed by the variety of plants situated at different corners of the room. It is not only a treat for the eyes on the outside but on the inside as well, think of it as beauty being captured on a 360 degree scale.
Fun fact about this grand indoor greenhouse café – not only is it owned by the legendary entertainment company, YG Entertainment, you may have also caught a glimpse of this place on several K-Dramas and K-Pop music videos as well. Is this not solid evidence enough that it is not only us that think this place is worth a visit?
This nature-themed cafe extends to the 52nd floor of the building as well, with the Sky Farm (No, not the cafe, the farm itself. Yes, we know its confusing!) located there. Though no animals, it is a quaint little indoor garden with different kinds of plants scattered across the area, soil and ferment included. With several chairs and benches located amongst the foliage, it is as though they are inviting you to sit down to just enjoy some quiet and peaceful moments amongst the tranquility of the place.
Food-wise, the café offers a wide range of Western selections which are served up in an aesthetically pleasing manner. From salads, pasta, sandwiches to different brunch selections which hail from various countries, you can expect that this café serves up more than just a visual treat.
Seoul, South Korea
Monday – Sunday
How to get there:
Exit from Yeouido Station, Exit 2
Walk straight and make a left at the corner where you will see a black sign which says “The Skyfarm (50F)” on the top right hand corner.
Take the elevator up to the 50th floor.
Cafe Mirror Room
A café that looks like it came out of a period Korean drama – Café Mirror Room lies in the category of Hanok (traditional Korean house) Coffee Shops which have been increasingly establishing a presence in the café scene of Korea.
Different from the rest of their café counterparts, Cafe Mirror Room boasts an architecture which is vastly different from the rest of the modern cafés with its traditional housing exterior. With their wide windows, hanging pod-like lights, mirrored walls and wooden interiors, the interior of the café is on an entirely different end of the spectrum with these modern elements that transforms this traditional house into a trendy and young café.
For those who’d prefer a little afternoon or night breeze to accompany their coffee, there is also an outdoor seating area within a little yard where customers can sit. Whether you are sitting inside or outdoors, the blend between traditional and modern comes together to present that perfect chill spot for you to soak in all these good vibes.
Conveniently located next to Gyeongbokgung Palace, you may want to check out this place right after for an afternoon perk-me-up. Especially in the sweltering heat of the Summer, their Strawberry Shakes which are generously topped with whipped cream, thick slices of fresh strawberries and brownies will definitely take away that heat-induced bother. Don’t we wish we’d have this to sip on in Singapore?
40, Samcheong-ro 2-gil,
Seoul 03053, South Korea
Monday – Sunday