Berlin Kitchen and Dinga Cake House in Mangwon // 망원동, 베를린키친하고 딩가케이크하우스
This weekend was another one of many fun and refreshing weekends I’ve spent in Seoul. Every time I go I’m simultaneous reminded of why I’m so happy that I live in Daejeon but that I should really go up to Seoul more often.
My Korean friends, who are a huge part of why I moved to this country, all live in Seoul. So while yes Seoul is fun because it’s big and beautiful and exciting, it’s also fun for me because it’s comfortable. It’s sitting in a café for hours with someone who knows me well enough that I can just relax. It’s sleeping on the floor in my friends university apartment better than I usually sleep in my own bed back in Daejeon. Seoul feels like my friends. So my visits are always refreshing in the emotional sense, and exhausting in the physical because holy cow we can manage to pack a lot into two days.
And this weekend was no exception.
Friday and Saturday were lovely. Some highlights of which include fried squid, coffee in Gangnam, sweating like crazy in Myeongdong, and a brewery in Hongdae. Did I mention how busy my Seoul weekends usually are?
But this post is about Sunday. Because Sunday I actually got to visit an area of Seoul that I’d never been to before. One that is apparently a hot, up and coming place for boutique cafe’s and restaurants.
The area I’m talking about is called Mangwon.
At about noon on Sunday my American friend and I parted ways in Myeongdong because she was heading back to Daejeon earlier than I was. From there I went to meet up with two of my former students from the US who are now just some of my good friends.
I met them at Mangwon station and we set of in search of the restaurant they wanted to try. It was an incredibly hot day but the sky was clear and company was good so I was more than content. The first place we tried was closed so we walked a bit further and ended up at Berlin Kitchen. Inside they only have 5 tables and there were about three parties in front of us when we arrived. So we stood outside in the heat for probably 45ish minutes and waited.
But once we got inside, the food and the atmosphere were worth it.
I ordered the salmon dish and it came out beautifully plated over rice and topped with a really fresh mixture of tomatoes, onions, and avocado.
Once we finished up eating we headed off for a café. It was a bit of a walk to the place they wanted to try, but I was really loving the neighborhood so it was cool to see. For some reason Mangwon kind of reminds me of Japan. Maybe it’s because they buildings are all short as opposed to other popular areas of Seoul. It’s very clearly a typical slightly under developed residential area that young people are starting to “take over” in a sense by opening trendy cafe’s, shops, and restaurants.
In Korea, at any given moment, there are always these “hot spots” that everyone wants to go try and take pictures at. And a few of those really hot spots are in Mangwon these days.
After about twenty minutes of walking we arrived at Dinga Cake House.
This place is popular for mainly two reasons. Their cakes, which are super cute and delicious, but also their aesthetic. Inside everything looks like it came from a child’s room in America in the 70’s. All the colors are super bright and playful and the whole place is decorated with little toys and knickknacks.
We got one piece of the red velvet cake, one of the chocolate, and each of us ordered an Americano. It came out on what looked like something from a kids play kitchen set. It was adorable.
We stay in there for a long time and talked, decided on an English name for one of my Korean friends, and played with the adorable little poodle that was running around inside.
If you decide to come here though, be warned that there are only 5 chairs so not very many people can be there at one time. We had to wait for a group to leave before we could sit down.
After that we went to the Style Nanda in Hongdae because they have a photo booth where you can get pictures for free.
While we walked around Hongdae I asked my friends to just speak Korean to me, and for the rest of the night I tried to only answer in Korean as well. It was difficult and fun, and both discouraging and encouraging at the same time. As most language practice usually is.
As usual when the time came for me to head back to Daejeon I didn’t want to. But as I walked back to the station with one of my friends we were able to have a little conversation in Korean that will stick with me for a while.
Being with them is always special for me because of how important they were to me when I was in America. But even more so now because the tables have turned. Before I was their teacher, I did what I could to help them live comfortably in America. We spoke English and experienced American culture together.
But now we are in Korea. And they are the ones who know everything. They help to make me comfortable and explain the language and culture around me which is so new and different. She told me that she was proud to be my friend. And am I so incredibly proud to be hers.
But I digress. Mangwon is really cool. If you’re looking for something to do in Seoul but are tired of the typical crowded tourist-y areas I would highly recommend checking this area out.
I hope where ever you are reading this from, you had as good of a weekend as I did. Thanks for reading!