If you’re planning a trip to Seoul, making a food itinerary should be high on your list of priorities – delicious Korean food all day long sounds like a dream come true, and there really is so much variety in the Korean capital you’ll be spoilt for choice. Seoul is home to some of the most amazing cafés and restaurants, and it isn’t just traditional Korean food that’s on the menu. Seoul cafés play a huge part in the local foodie scene, with everyone from bloggers to travellers lining up to try out the latest new café craze.
It often seems like a new café pops up in Seoul on a weekly basis, attracting hordes of trendsetters with their Instagram at the ready – and each time, the new cafés get bolder, brighter, and bigger. To truly blend in with the locals, get your social media account on standby and start planning your café route. We’ve made a list of some of the most exciting, innovative and inspiring Seoul cafés that you should visit on your trip to Korea!
The word ‘bora’ means purple in Korean, and it’s easy to see why the café was named so as soon as you walk through the door. Café Bora has a wide range of purple desserts on offer, including purple lattes, purple ice cream, purple macaroons, and purple bingsu (a traditional Korean dessert made from shaved ice). What’s the secret behind the vibrant purple? Sweet potato! If you’ve never tried purple sweet potato, Café Bora is the perfect place to start – you’ll be an immediate convert!
Thanks Nature Café
Seoul is known for its cutesy themed animal cafés, but the city is home to far more than just your average cat and dog hangout. The Thanks Nature café in the hip Hongdae University area of Seoul is home to the city’s first (and only) sheep café. You can pet the sheep and feed them some straw in their pen outside, before heading in to cool down with a refreshing fruit-ade or to nibble on Korean ‘toast’, closer to the French variety than what you’d expect to pop out the toaster. Try the classic Korean combination of honey garlic butter – a flavour profile that’s swept the nation!
Banji Café (반지마을 banji ma-eul)
From DIY phone case cafés to slime-making cafés, Seoul really has it all if you’re looking to get crafty over your coffee. If sheep aren’t your calling, the Hongdae area has other offerings, including the Banji ring-making café – just perfect for a date! This café surged in popularity after appearing on a Korean dating show, We Got Married, but it’s not just for the lovers out there. The staff will guide you through making bracelets or necklaces too if that’s more up your street. While it might be a pricy café visit, it’s truly a unique experience. Bring a book and relax with a coffee while your from-scratch ring is being finished off.
If you’re looking for a Seoul café where flamboyance is king, look no further than Creamfields, in the Seodaemun district of the city. The selection of cupcakes on offer should be enough to convince anyone to pay a visit, but the true ‘icing on the cupcake’ is the café’s ‘Monster Latte’, a lavish beast decorated with thick whipped cream and miniature meringues. This beautiful drink is enough to brighten up anyone’s day!
‘Poop café’ 또옹카페 (ddong ka-pe)
As crude as it sounds, Seoul’s poop café is actually pretty cute. You might not have ever thought that the idea of sipping a latte from a miniature toilet would be appealing, but when in Seoul! The city is home to the world’s first poop museum – we’re definitely sensing a theme here! While the name might be a tad off-putting, the poop café actually has some tasty treats on offer, with scones and ddong-bang (poop bread) filled with chocolate or red bean to try out.
Banana Tree Café
Seoul’s foreigner-friendly district, Itaewon, is crammed with cafés and restaurants offering food from across the globe. First historically populated by Japanese colonialists, it was then home to American soldiers, meaning this area of the city has a distinct cosmopolitan vibe. While you’re there, pop in to the Banana Tree Café, where you can order cake rather interestingly served in a flower pot, or their stunning candy floss latte.
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What time is it?? Its Dessert time! Cake on a flower pot. Matcha with cotton candy as your sugar. What else can you ask for? I’m selfish cause these are all mine!! . . . . . #foodvisuals #cottoncandy #danielwellington #sugarrush #seoulsearching #jopofalltrades #travelwithapurpose #travelblogger #dessertbae
‘Zapangi’, inspired by the Korean word for vending machine, can be found in Mangwon-dong, a district where new up-and-coming restaurants are now surfacing everywhere. Your mission here is simple: a quick snap with the pink door shaped like a vending machine, and deciding between a unicorn-themed slushie, or a mermaid sweet potato cake. You won’t be able to put your camera down for a second!
Very Vary Berry Buffet – Banyan Tree Hotel
While not strictly a café, if you’re in Seoul during strawberry season (around February to April), you should definitely check out one of the city hotel’s strawberry buffets. Korean strawberries are fat, juicy, and difficult to resist, especially when they come in so many forms! Cakes, meringues, pavlovas, chocolate-drizzled strawberries – you name it, a strawberry buffet will have it. Expect to pay between 45-65,000 won ($40-60) for the ‘berry’ unique experience.
Seoul’s first matcha café is a break away from the crowds, in a peaceful leafy area of the city – and it’s an absolute must for tea lovers. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, Matchacha is a fantastic choice, where no music plays, and customers speak in soft, dulcet tones while sipping on an iced matcha, or their signature ‘Matcha Blanc’, mixed with milk and served with a delicious chamomile cream.
Ice cream fans should definitely not miss out on Sobok, where the soft dessert swirls are made from a mixture of brown rice and a traditional rice syrup called jocheong – giving the ice cream a rich, warm depth to it rather than a straight sugar hit. Their beautiful ice cream comes in various flavours, and is served with squash jellies and injeolmi, soft squishy rice cakes coated in a delicious, almost ‘toasted’ flavour bean flour. Sobok has various branches around the city, and even across the country, meaning you have no excuse not to try this creamy treat!
Have we convinced you yet? Seoul cafés and restaurants are only one small part of the Korean experience! If you can’t wait to discover more, and learn how to read the menu while you’re there, we can help you plan your perfect trip to South Korea!