Seoul: Lunch at Noryangjin Fish Market

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Noryangjin Fish Market is a seafood PARADISE!

I visited the market several years ago and was amazed by the sheer assortment of fresh seafood available in the market. Piles and piles of shellfish, mussels, crabs, octopus, fish, prawns, sea urchin, conches, abalone, etc for sale.

How it works in this market is this: you pick what you like at any stall, pay for the seafood and the stall-owner will bring you to one of the restaurants located in the basement or the second floor of the market where they will cook the food for you, but at an additional price.  I am not sure what kind of arrangement each stall-owner has with the restaurants.

The last time I visited the market, I didn’t eat any seafood because I had already eaten lunch. I made it a point during this trip to go to Noryangjin for a meal. I was so excited at the thought of picking out my own seafood!

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Flower Crafting Classes By Wonderland

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Last month, K and I signed up for flower crafting classes with Wonderland For Detailed Planners.  I saw the stunning paper flowers that WFDP made for the Penang Festival on their Facebook page and I was curious to learn how to make them.  It was supposed to be a 2-hour class which ended up to be twice as long!  We learnt how to make a paper rose, a dahlia and an anemone.  We had loads of fun together!  At the end of the 4-hour marathon, I ended up with a sore back, a rumbling stomach…and three lovely flower crafts.

We started with the prep work for making the paper rose by applying colors to a light brown ‘chwee kweh’ paper.  We were taught to mix colour dyes with a white dye (the type that we used to paint our white canvas school shoes with to make them look very white) to create a thick mixture which we used to paint over six pieces of brown paper.

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Pink!  Blue!  Purple!  Yellow!  I was greedy to have all the colours. On hindsight, I should have chosen only one colour for the paper rose, instead of creating a multi-coloured one.  You will know what I mean when you see the paper rose later on.

After each piece was painted, we laid it on the floor to dry. While waiting for the paper to dry, we moved on to create the second flower craft, the dahlia. We had to use coloured tissue paper for this craft and I chose two shades of purple for the petals and yellow for the heart of the dahlia. To make the dahlia, we were required to do a lot of cutting using the scissors.  I struggled to cut even strips…

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Ta-daaa! Our dahlias!

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Who said these things only interest women? We had male participants too.

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By this time of the class, we were lagging very far behind the other participants so I didn’t have the time to take photos of how we made the anemone and the paper rose.  But they involved more cutting, tracing, snipping and using the glue gun. The fruits of our labour. I loved the dahlia and thought the anemone to be quite cute, but the multi-coloured rose … just looked kind of weird! I should have stuck to one color.

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Some of the other participants and their crafts. Pretty right? 🙂

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This is Melissa Wang, the lady behind WDFP.  I managed to get a photo of her and the bouquet that she  was putting together for a client. 🙂

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I really like her classes.  Am looking forward to the next one!

xoxoxo

Other posts on Shop Wonderland:

Shop Wonderland / Wonderland For Detailed Planners
A Wild English Garden With Wonderland For Detailed Planners

Seoul: A Walk To Namdaemun

I like staying in Myeongdong because of its bustling atmosphere and convenient location to shop and eat. I usually stay in Metro Hotel and if I cannot get a room at this hotel, Ibis Myeongdong is my second choice. I am so familiar with and comfortable in Myeongdong, I cannot envisage staying anywhere else in Seoul.

With so many quirky cafes to discover and hang out at in Seoul, I still make it a point to visit Starbucks for a cup of cafe mocha everyday.  This Starbucks is a skip-and-a-hop away from Metro hotel and I drop by quite frequently, on my way to the subway station or back to the hotel. This outlet is spacious and brightly lit, with plenty of tables and a slightly hip vibe.

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The Seoul Central Post Office in Myeongdong.  From here, I begin my stroll from Myeongdong to the Namdaemun market.

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A fangirl snapping a photograph of the TV screen showing her favourite idol or actor, perhaps…?

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The entrance to Namdaemun market from the back of the Shinsaegae department mall.

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I enjoy visiting the market, eating street food peddled by hawkers.  I can never resist buying a stick of fish cake, dipping it in soy sauce, eating it standing by the roadside and finishing up with a cup of hot soup made with anchovies and daikon (some hawkers add red chilies to the soup which gives it an extra kick).

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I like rummaging through the pile of clothes hanging on the racks, you never know when you might find something interesting.

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Old grannies peddling their wares.  Despite their age, they wear make-up and have nicely groomed hair.

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A hawker selling…*gulps*…some kind of worm.   Every time I past one of these street hawkers, I have to pinch my nose to avoid the stench that comes from these things, whatever you call them.  I see plenty of people eat these things with great enjoyment.  Ewwwwww…

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See the ‘Alpha’ sighboard in orange on the right?  That’s a stationery-cum-handicraft shop that I like to visit whenever I am in Seoul.  It is a little wonderland for people like me who have a secret penchant for stationery such as pens, stickers, colored paper.  It is a great place if you need to purchase materials for scrapbooking or for making handicrafts such as hair accessories.

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In the vicinity of Alpha are several shops that sells ribbons, coloured tape (similar to the Japanese washi) in different textures and width, Kraft boxes in various shapes and sizes, paper bags in different shapes and sizes, rolls and rolls of wrapping paper.  These are wonderful places for people who are running small businesses that require packaging.  I always forget the time whenever I am in these shops and end up shelling out money for things that I never seem to use.  But I love indulging in a little frivolity.

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I could spend hours and hours in this shop…

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Happy to know that I will be in Seoul again next week! Looking forward to more good times in cafes, ribbon shops and who knows what else.  🙂

xoxoxo

‘Clear The Fridge’ Soba

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My husband shudders whenever I have to clear the fridge, ‘cos it means he will be eating something resembling ‘pig’s slop’ for dinner.

Usually, I chop up the ingredients and throw them into a frying pan as a stir-fry to be eaten with rice and a fried egg. Nothing tastes really bad when there is a fried egg to accompany it. 🙂

Today, I threw together sliced tamanegi, momotaro tomatoes, bunashimeji, organic curly kale and minced beef into the frying pan, made a sauce using dashi, shoyu and cooking sake, and served it with soba and nori.

I like the taste very much!

xoxoxo.

Creamier: Waffles & Ice Cream

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Mango and passionfruit sorbet. Dark chocolate. Vanilla. Three yummy scoops of artisanal ice cream from Creamier in Toa Payoh.

Creamier is currently my favourite place to eat ice cream. They make very good ice cream.  The ice cream has a very smooth texture  and great flavours – creamy but not overly rich or sweet. While I like the waffles – they are crisp and have a nice bite – I like the cone wafers even better.

I have tried quite a few flavours. Though I like them all, my all-time favourite combination is the mango and passionfruit sorbet with dark chocolate.

A Wild English Garden With Wonderland For Detailed Planners

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I have long admired the work of Wonderland for Detailed Planners. I like their classy-with-a-touch-of-whimsical event and table styling creations. As part of their services, they also do gorgeous, lush floral arrangements which appeal to my sense of aesthetics.

If I could turn back the clock, I would have used them for my wedding and hired their Tiffany chairs! I wouldn’t have been able to escape from having the usual Chinese-style wedding dinner, but perhaps, I could have done something different for my friends. Maybe I could have hosted an intimate lunch event at a slightly more interesting venue, instead of the usual hotel ballrooms. Oh well, it’s all too late.

When I learnt that Wonderland was conducting floral arrangement classes, I decided to sign up for one on the whim 🙂  This was my first floral arrangement class.

The class was held at Maple and Market, the bakery where I go for my occasional baking classes and to buy delicious and interesting birthday cakes. Signing up for these classes help to fill my weekend with some ‘productive’ activity (and I don’t consider housework to be ‘productive’ weekend activity…!). Otherwise, I would find myself lazing at home the entire weekend in front of the computer or on the couch.

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Wonderland turned a small area in Maple and Market into a mini flower marketplace with numerous vases containing an array of flowers for the class. Every guest who walked into the bakery was treated to a vision of white and fushsia peonies, white and purple matthiolas, purple delphiniums, white and purple hydrangeas, sweet william, cream, purple and champagne eustomas!  Lucky me that peonies are now in season ‘cos they are my favourite flowers. It is a pity that our weather isn’t very kind to peonies, and these weren’t going to last for more than a day, two if we are lucky.  

It was wonderful to be surrounded by the fragrance of flowers, coffee and baked goods on a *haze free* Saturday morning. I could feel my spirits being lifted up instantly.

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The theme of the class was to create a floral arrangement that was akin to a wild, lush English garden using the flowers that had been provided.  Every participant was allocated with a fixed number of flowers which we picked from the vases.  I picked a purple hydrangea, two white peonies, a delicate stalk of delphinium and a bright orange pincushion as my main flowers.  We were taught to trim the foam (that had already been thoroughly soaked in water) to fit the pretty blue European-style vase, to condition the stalks of flowers and how to place markers in the foam using the wax flowers.

Then it was free play for all.  

I huffed and puffed over my arrangement, mostly ‘cos I couldn’t decide where I wanted to place each stalk, and trying not to destroy them with my clumsiness.  Some of the participants in my class were very deft with their fingers and completed their pieces in half the time that I took.

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My messy work area…

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This arrangement was put together by the lady whom I was sharing a workspace with.

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That’s Joyce from Wonderland admiring some of the creations.

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And this is MINE! 🙂

I had plenty of fun for 2 hours.  I am thinking about signing up for their table styling classes…

xoxoxo

Other posts on Shop Wonderland:

Shop Wonderland / Wonderland For Detailed Planners
Flower Crafting Classes with Wonderland

Caramel Popcorn Cake

My friends and I have a regular ‘adults only’ night dinner whenever someone’s birthday is around the corner. They leave the kids at home and we all go somewhere to have a quiet meal for a couple of hours.

This month, we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant followed by super delicious ice-cream at Creamier. But before ice-cream, we had cake. We always have a birthday cake with candles and sing *silly* birthday songs for the birthday girl or boy.  This is how we stay young at heart.

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The birthday cake for the month was a caramel popcorn cake!  I bought this cake from a bakery, Maple & Market, located at Old Airport Road.   It is a vanilla cake with a caramel-buttercream frosting, topped with Garett’s popcorn and drizzled with home-made caramel sauce.    The  hand-made cake topper is cute.

I am not a fan of caramel or popcorn, and I was surprised to find out that I actually like the flavours of this cake.  The taste wasn’t too sweet or cloying.  I was tempted to polish off a second slice but decided to reserve space in the stomach for ice cream.

xoxoxo

Peach Ice Cream

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I have been so busy and stressed out with work over the last 5 months, I have hardly the time or the mood to make anything fun in the kitchen. I try to put together fuss-free meals during the weekends for sustenance. Apart from that, I am reluctant to do anything else in the kitchen which requires quite a lot of washing and cleaning up.  You should see the dirty pots and plates stacked up in my sink.  I am not proud of it…

I bought a box of peaches from the supermarket last weekend and they are languishing in the refrigerator. I decided use them to whip up some peach ice cream this weekend, using a recipe from Williams-Sonoma.  I need to do something fun!

xoxoxo

Ingredients:
250g (2 cups) peeled and pureed peaches (about 2 large peaches) tossed with some lemon juice.
125g (1/2 cup)
250ml (1 cup) whole milk
250ml (1 cup) heavy double cream
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence (or 1 vanilla bean)

Method:

1. Place the milk, 3/4 cup of heavy double cream and sugar in  a saucepan.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of heavy double cream in a small glass bowl for 1 minute, until they are blended.

3.  Place the saucepan over a medium fire and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 4 – 5 minutes.  Until bubbles form around the edges, the liquid just begins to ripple in the centre, and the sugar is dissolved.  Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Slowly pour 1/4 of the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking the mixture at the same time.

5. When 1/4 of the hot milk mixture has been blended into the yolks, start pouring the warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly until well-blended.  Place the saucepan with the milk-and-yolk mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 4 – 5 minutes.  The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  The custard should come to a bare simmer, with steam rising from teh surface and the surface rippling, but it should actually bubble or come to a boil.

6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the pureed peaches and vanilla essence. Pour the hot custard through a sieve, leaving any grainy solids in the sieve.

7. Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with ice cubes and cold water.  Place the bowl with the custard into the larger bowl, nestling the bowl into the ice cubes.  Let the custard cool until it reaches room temperature.

8. Once cooled, remove the bowl and cover with a piece of cling wrap.  Refrigerate the custard for at least 3 hours, then churn the custard until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream.  Remove from ice cream maker and freeze ice cream for at least 3 hours, until firm.

9. I added some crushed ginger snap biscuits as garnish!

Singapore Shrouded In Smog

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^ Someone sent me this cute picture.

The horrors of the last weeek when the entire Singapore was shrouded in a thick layer of smog due to forest fires raging in Indonesia. The Pollution Standard Index (PSI) reaching hazardous levels. N95 masks, air-purifiers, air-coolers flew off the shelves in the pharmacies, supermarkets, clinics and hospitals. All of a sudden, everyone was hunting high and low for a N95 mask or an air-purifier.

Instead of the stock markets and prices of COEs, everyone was monitoring the PSI.

“Please Stop (the forest fires), Indonesia!”

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^ This was the view from my workplace early in the week.

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^ Visibility plunged a day later. In some parts of the CBD, you could hardly see anything more than 100m ahead. Other parts of the CBD looked like a sandstorm had swept through the area.

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^ By the time the PSI hit the peak, you could see almost nothing from the windows.  People were really panicking.

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The haze receded today. We are hoping that it will stay that way going forward, that the Indonesian authorities are doing something sustainable to keep the forest fires down, and the wind direction is in our favor. It was a huge relief to see a shade of blue in the skies in the afternoon today.  This view from my living room window looked normal.  Armageddon had come and gone.

Clean, fresh air. Clear blue skies. Sunshine. White fluffy clouds. Something that I have always thought we had in abundance. I never though we could lose something so basic within a matter of hours. I will never take for granted fresh air and clear blue skies again.

Seoul: Coffee Lab In Hongdae

As I was wandering around Hongdae looking for street art, I was also looking for a morning cup of joe. There wasn’t a single cafe in sight at 10.30am in the morning. I tried the Coffee Prince cafe, alas, it was closed for renovation. Disappointed, I continued my search and just 80m away down the sloping road, I spotted Coffee Lab.

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I stepped into a cafe with a dark, edgy and rather masculine decor.  What was interesting about the decor was the portrafilters that were hanging from the ceiling.  I thought that was a kinda cool concept!

I took advantage of the cafe’s wi-fi to read up on the cafe, since it looked like a – if I may say – a serious sort of coffee place, the kind that has got professionally trained baristas, sources its beans from a fair trade farm in South America and roasts the beans in-house.  Look at the sleek metallic silver La Marzocco coffee machine. Not the usual cute or quirky-themed cafe that I have been frequenting.

According the Internet, the cafe is owned by a Korean barista champion.  I have no idea if it is the person standing at the counter. I also read from this blog called Coffee & Culture (a pretty awesome one) that the portafilters hanging on the ceiling are something new.  Previously, they hung chairs on the ceiling! I would really have liked to see that.

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I ordered a Kenya drip coffee.  Though I enjoyed it, this was not my preferred cup of joe.  I like my coffee strong, robust and aromatic, and from the little that I know about coffee roasting, I understand that this comes from coffee beans which have been roasted for a longer time.  My cup of coffee at Coffee Lab was light and slightly acidic.

I tried conversing with one of the baristas as I was keen to find out where they get their beans from and how they roast their coffee beans, but it was quite difficult for us to understand each other, so I decided to just focus on enjoying my coffee.

As I was sipping my coffee, I had a thought. IF. IF I ever opened a cafe, I will name it Portafilter. 🙂

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Hahaha.  I really like the decal on the toilet seat cover. 🙂  I am definitely making a repeat trip to Coffee Lab the next time I visit Seoul, before or after stuffing my face with churros at Churro 101 :-). I read that they have a smaller outlet called Coffee Express, also in Hongdae.  Might check this out too.

On a separate note, I am going to check out all the cafes recommended by Coffee & Culture on my next trip.  Lots of  high-quality recommendations there!

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Coffee Lab is located along the same street as the Coffee Prince, at Wausan-ro 29-gil, in Hongdae. If you approach the Coffee Prince cafe from Wausan-ro 29-gil from the top of the slope, you will see the cafe on your left. Coffee Lab is further down the road, but on the opposite side.

Coffee Lab is marked in yellow and the Coffee Prince Cafe is marked in red.

View Coffee Lab in a larger map

Seoul: Street Art In Hongdae

Although I visit Seoul at least once a year, I have not explored Hongdae. I visited the weekend flea market on my first trip many years ago and remember it to be a sprawling, creative area filled with young people, shops selling all sorts of female adornments, flea markets, push-carts lining the streets selling yummy snacks and restaurants catering to youthful palates with their Western and fusion offerings. But somehow, it didn’t create the sort of impression and memories that make places such as Ehwa Women’s University, Ihwadong and Samcheongdong so compelling.

Recently, I have been reading about street art in Hongdae in various blogs. I love street art so I decided to take a walk around Hongdae one cold, crisp morning. Bad idea, the area was deserted ‘cos all the shops were closed till 11am or 12pm. That’s when I decided to find a cafe to drink coffee, and stumbled on Churro 101, the churros bar. I wandered around several streets, peeked into the back alleys and the backyards of some shops, and saw nothing remotely resembling street art.

I was about to give up and go somewhere else when I came across this installation in a litle square just off the main street.  I don’t quite know who sponsored this installation, or what was the theme of the artwork, or who were the artists, but I am guessing that they involve the Korean Red Cross.  There were approximately 10 of such canvas with artworks painted on both sides.

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Bright. Colourful. Whimsical. Cheerful. It perked up my mood on a cold, gloomy and foggy morning. I found some of the artwork quite creative and appealing.   I was tempted to buy them if they came in smaller sizes.

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I like this piece from the Korean Red Cross.  It conveys the message of love in a simple piece of artwork.

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Love the piece with the zebra sitting in a hot-air balloon looking down at the windmills in verdant fields.

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The piece on the left (below) is another abstract-styled piece that I like.  Mostly because of the asymmetrical shapes arranged in a palette of cheerful and soothing colours.

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Then I walked around a bit more and saw other bits of street art.

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The Piano Cafe is across the road from the shop above.

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Street art is all a matter of perspective. Some people see it as freedom to express creativity, others see it as graffiti.  I wish we had more of this unbridled ‘creativity’ in Singapore.

Seoul: The Hello Kitty Cafe In Hongdae

I have a weakness for the pink Japanese cat. The latest fad in Singapore is to collect the McDonald’s Hello Kitty series and I just got myself the Hello Kitty Frog Prince that comes with the purchase of a value meal. On the Thursday when McDonald’s release the new Hello Kitty plush, I see a long queue at the drive-through near my office early in the morning!

One of the cafes in Seoul that I wanted to visit during my trip in March was the Hello Kitty cafe in Hongdae. I followed the directions to the cafe on a blog which stated that the cafe was round the corner from a Ho Bar cafe. There are a number of Ho Bar cafes scattered around Hongdae but none was the right one, and I got terribly lost wandering around in the maze of alleyways in Hongdae. I just could not find the cafe. I was about to give up when I finally came across the “landmark Ho Bar pub”.

I turned the corner and squealed. 🙂

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The entire shop was so PINK. Not a refreshing light pink but a hot fushcia pink.

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It was really difficult to decide what to order. I was already stuffed from churros, coffee, lunch and more coffee. In the end, I picked a pink strawberry mousse cake in the shape of a Hello Kitty face and a glass of cold tea. Drinking another cup of coffee, I would be bouncing off walls.

Isn’t the cake cute?  I couldn’t bring myself to stick a fork into its cute little face.

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I was amused by this chap. I don’t think you will find many Singaporean guys doing this in a Hello Kitty cafe.  Practically everyone in the cafe was busy snapping away on their cameras and smart phones…

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Or busy playing games on their smartphones. You would think that the customer base of such a cafe would be the young, but it wasn’t the case. I saw women and men of all ages drinking coffee in the cafe. Grannies with their young grand-daughters, young men in their 20s with their girlfriends, middle-aged ahjusshis wth their wives (I think). I doubt my husband would be caught dead in the cafe.

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The warm red tones of the room made me feel very claustrophobic after 30 minutes and I had to get out before I started feeling nauseous.

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I toyed with the idea of getting one of the Hello Kitty T-shirts on sale, but decided against buying more stuff since I had to drag my near-bursting suitcase to SF.  I really liked the one with the Hello Kitty face, maybe the next time.

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Coooooo…..!

The cafe is right in the middle of Hongdae and the landmark Ho Bar to look for is the one shown in the photo below, above a Watsons (though I cannot be sure that Watsons will stay in that location). Turn the corner from this building and the Hello Kitty cafe is 50 metres away, on a slope. This blog has a good map showing the directions to the cafe.

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358-112 Seogyo-dong (94-3 Eoulmadang-ro)


View Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae in a larger map

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