The first coffee shop in Korea was a traditional teahouse. Maybe around 1940, it was a social place for particular class. At that time, coffee didn't became popular, so it was only available for rich or famous people. Before 1980, most house didn't have a coffee machine, which is a different story in these days. 

People could drink coffee as a special culture in coffee shop called Da-Bang. Then instant coffee appeared and 'wanna grab a coffee?' become greeting words like 'let's go for a drink.' This instant coffee, stick-shaped, began to famous in foreign country.

People these days usually drink at least one or two cups of coffee per day. During Da-bang coffee period, 'Morning Coffee' was the famous menu. It is like black coffee, or americano, but people served it with egg yolks in it. This originated from ssanghwa tea with egg yolks. 

foreign country brand like Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and national brand like Cafe Bene, Angel in Us, Tom & Toms are growing explosively, which makes Da-bang disappear. Because of new coffee trend, there is no Madame, a female manager of a teahouse, in coffee shop. Sometimes the word Madame is used negatively, but in the past, it was polite to buy coffee for her since she is a manager.

She was the one to talk to while waiting for company and it was her ability that determined coffee shop's sales. Even though some people had a negative view of  Madame in Da-bang, there was also romance in there. 

Nearby Jongnogucheong (Jongno-gu Office), there is 'The Cafe' on the first floor of the building, Doosan We've Pablrion. Jongno, which is a traditional area and the modernized building are mixed together. The exterior looks like Coffee Bean, but you can feel 1980s atmosphere when you get inside. there are 7 tables and 4 standing seats. Americano is 2000 won and Lemon Yogurt Smoothie is 3900 won. 

They also have latte, citron tea, and so on. It is really cheap compared to other franchise coffee shops. But since the space between the tables is rather close, you can hear other's conversation. 

Most coffee shops these days are full with young couples or salesman. They spend their time saying something sweet each other or having a meeting to plan strategy. However, in this cafe, you can hear "In bygone days, I was an assistance for famous politician, so..." 

They serve Guatemala coffee. This coffee is produced in various area and is Smoke Coffee. Croissant was warm but choco chips were too hard. Anyway, the greatest advantage of this cafe is that it is cheap. You can enjoy inexpensive coffee and meet diverse people in here.

Location : Susong-dong 58 (Sam-Bong-Ro 81), Jongno-gu, Seoul

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서울특별시 종로구 종로1.2.3.4가동 |
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Koreans really like spicy food. Almost every people in Korea enjoy hot and spicy food. Before one knows, spicy food is the main dish in Korea's eating out culture. And this trend made homemade food less spicy and plain. 

The first chance Koreans encountered to try spicy food was Topokki (Spicy Rice Cake). This food is made of many pieces of Tteok (rice cakes) with Gochujang (hot sauce), Euhmuk (fish cake), and a boiled egg. Original Tteokbokki is very simple to make because it doesn't need many ingredients as I said. 

There are various kinds of rice cake: thick one and thin one. Original one and one made from flour. But it doesn't matter which one you use. This food is matter of spicy and hot.

There is Guk Dae Topokki nearby Bucheon Station. I'm not sure what Guk Dae means, but the words sound like short for member of the national team. Anyway, it is located in a good place; nearby subway station. And there were few tables, but they served the food very quickly.

Topokki is 2500 won per serving, 5 Twikim (fried food) are 2500 won, and one fish cake is 500 won. Udon is 3000 won and Patbingsu (Shaved Ice with Sweetened Red Beans and Other Toppings) is 2500 won.

I ordered traditional Topokki and it had thin rice cake, made of flour. It was soft and not that spicy. If you have an allergy to hot food, you should ask the chef to make the food less spicy. I like some pieces of fish cake in Topokki. It also salty, savory and soft.

Fish cake, which I ordered separately, was served in nickel-silver pot with soup. This was really good because it involved less flour and very soft.

There was a sign which says "Welcome carrying in food"

Most restaurants ban on bringing food purchased outside, but this store doesn't. Why? They really don't care other food because they are confident about their food. And they are considerate of mom and child, who wants Tteokbokki while the other is eating waffle.

In 15 minutes, I ate and enjoyed the food and became full. They deserve recognition as a famous and kind restaurtant.

Location : Bucheonyuksa Shoppingmall B1, Simgokbon-dong 316-2, Sosa-gu, Bucheon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Tel : 82-32-612-5505

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경기도 부천시 소사구 심곡본동 | Guk Dae Topokki
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


One by one raindrops started to fall. Normally the weather being hot and humid this change brought a short timed joy. Looking for shelter from the unexpected rain, a particular cafe caught my eye. It went by the name of Corner Be. 

The cafe was placed right across of Cheon-ge Cheon and it was exact place that I was looking to keep myself from getting soaked from the rain. This cafe consisted of two stories and the scent of roasting coffee brought a smile to my face. 

The machines that this cafe in particular used was from the company "HAS GARANTi". 

The roasting took place in the first floor where all the machines were located. Since everything was done indoors the scent of roasted coffee beans lingered all through out the building. This allowed me to really enjoy every sip of my latte.

The cafe latte that came to my table tasted amazing. It could have just been the superb timing, atmosphere, and weather that made this latte taste fantastic, however I would also assume that the correct temperature and richness of the coffee created the masterpiece. 

The perfect timing to go back to the cafe Corner Be would be during the dead of winter. The coffee would warm my body and heart.

Location : Seoul Jongro-gu Kwanchul-dong 11-11(Cheong gye cheon ro 75-1)

[Grill] - The ultimate in chewy texture - Daegu Seobu Terminal Makchang Alley

[Grill] - Names and natures do often agree - IlSan Milbat Kalguksu, Seokgalbi

[Dish] - Drug-Gimbap & Bindaetteok - Gwangjang Marketplace

[Stew] - Yeoungdeungpo Mukeunji Maeun Galbijjim – The Development of fermented food

[Grill] - Dak Galbi Sarang Memil Guksi in Nami Island

[Dish] - Ulkeuni Kodarijjim of Sigol Buttumak in Daegu

[Burger] - Lina’s Sandwich at Gwanghwamun

[Dish] - Pyeonyuk-Won Halmoni Someori Gukbab in Front of Suwon Station

[Stew] - ‘Wondang Gamjatang’ Near Seoul Station

[Grill] - ‘Sankkomjangeo Buljogaegui’ for Delicious Clam Platters

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서울특별시 종로구 종로1.2.3.4가동 | Cafe Corner Be
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Posted by 크레이빙코리아


Boba isn't the most popular beverage in Korea ... yet. Coming from a place where boba was virtually anywhere and was considered as "cool" as the drink itself, I wasn't used to not having these around. I never was a huge boba consumer even back in Los Angeles, but still, not having these black, soft and addictingly tasteless balls of tapioca (whatever THAT is, right?) was definitely a culture shock for me. It was years since my arrival when I saw my first boba ball, and it was here at Gong Cha, a beverage franchise spread across Seoul.

Gong Cha is unique and special in different ways. To start, it's a beverage franchise. Although in America, beverage franchises may be common largely due to the explosion boba has seen, Korea rarely has beverage franchises that ONLY sell beverages. Gongcha is probably one of the very few that only offer drinks. Other cafes (which are virtually beverage stands) usually offer some bakery goods or even flat out food to enjoy alongside your coffee whether it be hot or cold, but Gong Cha has none of those items in their menu. Understanding why cafes opt to have food sold alongside their drinks, it often makes me think how Gong Cha's make a profit -- which shows how unfamiliar the concept of an only beverage stand in Korea is to me even now. 

When I first went, I was confused about what exactly I needed to do but when I finally somehow got my drink, I completely fell for it. Of course, each drink tastes different so I can't judge the taste of the other drinks but the way the tapioca balls just slurp past the thick straw the employees pluck unto the top.. it's really an indescribable feeling. For those who've longed to drink some boba and chew on the small mysterious "pearls" (as they are called in Gong Cha), Gong Cha is definitely the place to come.

Gong Cha locations are usually either similar to a cafe where the drink can be enjoyed within the joint or beverage stands at shopping malls where drinks are taken to go. The Gong Cha near Ewha Women's University Station was the former and although it wasn't too fancy, it was definitely clean, organized and it had a comfortable atmosphere. In other words, it was simple, and seeing that Gong Cha "simply" sells beverages, the way the interior looked reflected their agenda.

There are several things to notice about this location that are quite significant.

First of all, the chairs and tables are all either wooden or plastic so they aren't the comfiest seats that you might expect to sit on at a cafe. Although, like I aforementioned, it was quite comfortable despite having to sit on a solid surface, it's definitely not a place where you can just sit for hours and talk. Of course, you could, but it's not the most comfortable choice for elongated periods of time and since people are always walking around the location, it does get quite busy and even loud. I would say that it's comfortable enough for you and anyone else to sit and finish the drink but not necessarily to spend too much time past that last sip or tapioca ball. 

The flexibility of the chairs and tables also allow for customers to sit however they would like, whether it be to accommodate a group of only two or twelve. 

Second, is the fact that this beverage franchise actually has restrooms right on the side of the location. It's a BEVERAGE franchise that only sells beverages, mind you. Most cafes the size of this Gong Cha location would not have restrooms available to the public like this, but seeing that they allow their customers to do their business while getting their drink on personally impressed me. 

Since, like I said, there's not much complexity in this joint, there isn't much to show in regards to the location's interior design. It was definitely a simple look and a comfortable one where customers aren't burdened by any elegant or fancy surroundings, which also appealed to me. It's definitely a great place to hang out and have fun with friends while sipping on some drinks that are also fun to drink -- or should I say, eat?

Like I've aforementioned several times already, Gong Cha only offers beverages and although I've obviously not tasted all of the options they offer, I can say that I'm impressed with how the drinks taste. Whenever I go, I often don't get too complicated or creative and just order the simplest and most basic drink Gong Cha offers, which is the Black Milk Tea, which actually doesn't look black as you can see in the following pictures.

As you're able to see, the tapioca balls are clearly visible in the bottom of the drink and although at first sight it may not seem like there's much, there's actually quite a bit. If you're just drinking your drink without any intent to get as many tapioca balls as you can in one sip, you will most likely have some balls left over when your drink is all sipped up. That's when you get to pull up the remaining balls and chew them on their own, which doesn't taste too well (actually, they don't taste like anything at all -- which ironically makes them not taste too well). In short, there are plenty of tapioca balls to get you chewing in every sip, which I've really enjoyed while drinking my milk tea.

According to my dad, who tasted my drink, the taste of the milk tea is very similar to soybean milk or "doo-yoo" (두유) in Korean. I can see how he came up with that conclusion, but I feel that the milk tea is sweeter and there's definitely a difference between the two because I'm not too fond of soybean milk whilst really enjoying my milk tea. I feel that the texture's definitely different, the milk tea being lighter but yeah, certainly, it's similar.

Seeing me enjoy my drink, my dad decided to grab a drink of his own. He went up and came back with this drink, which was called the Taro Milk Tea.

As you can see, there are no tapioca balls in this drink -- rather, he decided to put in some aloe. I tried it, and although it didn't have the chewiness of the tapioca balls (which personally appeals to me more), it was definitely sweet and it had its own charm. My dad liked the aloe better and the taste of the milk tea he ordered, so it's all about what fits best to your taste buds. There are so many options that it's difficult to say that a certain milk tea is my favorite.. simply because a new one that tastes better might arise once I try it. The diversity Gong Cha offers really keeps customers coming back and trying all of the different flavors you can taste.

The stickers they place on the cups upon ordering. All of the customizable options are specified alongside the receipt number, price, etc.4,400 won total for the Taro Milk Tea with Aloe.

Drinks at Gong Cha aren't too expensive overall. Most drinks go from 3,000 won to 5,000 won, which is a reasonable price for a drink that will definitely satisfy you and keep you quite water-full. There's a separate price for all of the different drink options, so take a look at the menu and choose the flavor you may be craving most!

A unique aspect about Gong Cha is that you can customize your drink -- obviously not completely but there are options you can choose to make a drink fit for you. There are 5 total steps that outline how you can order, and for those who will be going for the first time, some parts might throw you off as you decide which might be better for the drink rather than for you. Although I'm not the most experienced Gong Cha drinker around, I'll outline the steps out to prepare you for what's ahead when go up to the counter to order a drink.

STEP 1: Order your drink.

Take a look at the menu and find a drink flavor you're craving. Ponder between several choices you have in mind and discern which flavor you'll feel the most satisfaction and joy from. Memorize the name as you will need to repeat it unto the cashier. That's it.

STEP 2: Choose your size.

There are two sizes: LARGE or JUMBO. Quite odd ain't it? Most beverage stands would offer a small, medium or large but Gong Cha doesn't offer little, regular and a lot. Put it simply, it offers a lot and a LOT, which at first I found quite amusing. I've only bought large drinks and it's filled me quite a bit already so I've never dare to try Jumbo. If you're thirsty though, go for it. Just don't overestimate your stomach from that very temporarily and unrealistic desire.

STEP 3: Choose your topping.

There are 6 different toppings which you can add unto the drink to add the unique yet brilliant solid feel to the completely liquid drink. Most people tend to get the Pearls, which is what Koreans call the tapioca balls, but there's a variety of toppings you can choose. I haven't tried all of them, so I can't give you a description for each but think of each topping as an adventure you could undertake. Although you might find nothing special, there's that chance you might find the taste you're looking for.

STEP 4: Choose your sugar level.

This was the trickiest question I've received in quite a while: how much sugar would you like on your drink? I honestly wasn't sure what would fit best. I chose 30%, simply because I knew in the back of my head that too much sugar isn't good for you and not having any would be bland. I feel it was a smart first choice, since it really made my taste buds dance. It's really your choice though, but you need to ponder about two things when you pick, both the taste of the drink and your personal health. If you have any questions, I'm sure you can ask the cashier for any further details.

STEP 5: Choose your ice level.

Ice can cool your drink, but it can also take up a lot of space in your drink. For that reason, as soon as I was asked this question, I chose to not any ice but that was a reckless and swift decision. Having some ice to keep the drink cool is quite necessary, so having about 50% is probably the best balance. There are only three choices for this so you can't be too specific but I feel those are the only options that are really needed.

Once you get past this, a sticker is applied unto your cup with all of the details of your specifications and after a few minutes (depending on your drink), it will be ready to enjoy. 

One more tip.

When you go pick up your drink, the person giving you your drink will ask you whether you want him or her to have the straw insert into your drink for you. Knowing that they knew how to do it better than I did, I didn't hesitate in having them do it for me but my dad just brought the straw separately. The result: poor technique in inserting the straw in the right location at the right speed and right timing -- therefore, an eventual success after an uncomfortable and regrettable aftermath. Unless you've done it in the past and are confident that the drink won't be spurting out everywhere, just accept the employee's disguised offer to have the straw inserted for you. You will definitely not regret that decision.

If you want to come visit the Gong Cha location I introduced in this post, refer to this post on PizzaGate, which happens to be right next to this location. Click on "How can I get there" on the menu and it'll take you both to the pizzeria and the Gong Cha. After grabbing some pizza at Pizza Gate, Gong Cha is a perfect way to end the meal, although you may be fully stuffed through this combination.

Posted by 크레이빙코리아