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[Coffee Klatch] Step into hidden leafy haven in Ikseon-dong

Aug. 5, 2023 - 16:00 By Kim Da-sol
Cheongsudang Bakery (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)

The neighborhood of Ikseon-dong in Jongno-gu, Seoul, offers a unique mood that is both very Korean and exotic, stemming from the mix of sleek interior inside the low-rise decades-old hanok buildings.

In one of the Ikseon-dong alleys stands Cheongsudang Bakery, the perfect place to linger over your Americano.

Cheongsudang’s calm and peaceful gardenlike interior makes visitors' cafe experience all the more rewarding.

A stepping stone pathway, surrounded by bamboo trees with artfully hung wooden lanterns, takes you into the cafe.

While the cafe has kept the original hanok structure, the inside is a mix of sleek, chic interior that evokes a sense of zen. The first thing you see as you step into the cafe is the 8.5-meter-wide coffee counter that is decorated with moss. You’ll then find an array of hand-drip coffee brewing machines that gives off the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Coffee brew inside Cheongsudang Bakery (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
Inside Cheongsudang Bakery (Glow Seoul)

Next to it is a giant stone table with a moss and water well centerpiece running down the middle of it. Just staring at the falling water and watching it pool on the volcanic stone make for a visually and aurally pleasing experience.

Cheongsudang’s unique, zen atmosphere as well as its peaceful music playlist offer the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Plenty of cozy seating areas, each with a slightly different aesthetic style, are scattered over the 990-square-meter cafe that comprises six hanok buildings.

The space is surrounded by lush greenery and when the sun is not so strong, go for the outside seating. Visitors can lounge on the wooden flooring while sipping their iced coffee and drinks in the outdoor area that directly faces a quaint garden.

Cheongsudang Bakery's outdoor seating area (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
Cheongsudang Bakery's signature Stone Egg Coffee (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)

As for the coffee and tea menu, go for Cheongsudang’s signature Stone Egg Coffee, which uses stone drippers to add a unique aroma and taste. On top of the strong black coffee is a layer of custard cream that is burnt a bit for texture. It is fun to crack the top like a creme brulee, and the sweet and bitter flavors make for a phenomenal dessertlike drink.

Another steady-seller is the matcha latte which offers the robust, earthly flavor of matcha topped with dollops of full cream and a sprinkle of matcha powder to finish.

After opening its doors in 2020, it was recently renovated and reopened as a bakery cafe specializing in desserts, including made-to-order souffles, castella and fromage cakes.

Traditional yakgwa desserts and finger-sized baked goods like madeleines and financiers are also available to take away in delicately wrapped boxes.

Cheongsudang Bakery is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cheongsudang Bakery's signature yakgwa set (Glow Seoul)

Seoul has over 25,000 cafes with many opening and closing each year. The Korea Herald visits unique cafes in Seoul that satisfy people’s tastes for both coffee and atmosphere with the aim of experiencing coffee drinking as a culture. – Ed.

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