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Summer at Coffee Prince

February 20, 2011
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To Sunnie and me, summer means Korea, as we usually take a trip back every summer to visit family and experience Korea and the bustle of Seoul. In the summer of 2009, we took a trip to Hongdae to check out Coffee Prince, the coffee shop that was used for one of our all time favorite kdramas and remains open as a functioning business. Now, to avoid confusion, Coffee Prince is actually a chain of coffee shops in Korea that opened up after the success of the kdrama, but the actual coffee shop building that was used as a set on the shoot is not associated with the Coffee Prince chain, it is independent. Confused yet?

Anyway, if you check out our inaugural kdrama awards, you can see how much we love Coffee Prince by the number of awards named after it. We tend to like fun, even sometimes ridiculous dramas, but Coffee Prince is the shining star amongst this sort of kdrama. It captured the essence of summer so well, and it was a great character piece. The show was filled with likable and endearing characters; a kdrama with no bad guys. Coffee Prince just felt like you were hanging out with a bunch of good friends (and a really good soundtrack).

Our friend, Young Sook, took us to visit the cafe. I’d pulled the following directions from the Korea Tourism site:

Take Subway Line 2 to Hongik University, and go out of Exit 4 a Turn right at Seven Springs corner and pass the intersection. At the 3-way intersection, turn left. Walk about 100 meters on the road above the playground and walk towards the road on the right side. Walk about 500 meters until you find the coffee shop on the right.

But Young Sook drove us down to Hongdae, and we just drove to the area looking for it. I actually spotted it first, managing to first recognize the street (Eun Chan chasing Han Kyul down the road as he drives away from her) and then the vine covered exterior of the building.

We honestly were pretty geeked out as we drove up. Looking around the exterior, we could see the steps where Eun Chan waited nervously for Han Kyul to arrive, the driveway where he parked his Mini Cooper, and circular glass letting you see into the cafe.

Sign outside the First Shop of the Coffee Prince

Sign outside the First Shop of the Coffee Prince

Exterior of Coffee Prince

Exterior of Coffee Prince

They did not have as many tables set up outside on the deck as they did in the show, and there was a little bit of clutter which the fastidious Han Kyul would never have stood for, but we did get to see the serving cart the staff used to server customers outside the cafe.

Coffee Prince serving cart

Going inside, you immediately can see the entrance to the restroom and the swinging double doors of the kitchen, both of which are easily recognizable from the show. My first reaction was that even though the place is certainly not smaller, it seemed bigger for some reason in the show.

Coffee Prince kitchen doors

Walking past to the counter, you pass the wall with the flower mural Yoo Joo painted, and the cast and staff of the drama have signed the wall next to it.

Coffee Prince mural

Young Sook ordered us some drinks. I was disappointed that they didn’t serve waffles in honor of Waffle Sunki; although, we later visited one of the Coffee Prince chain cafes, and they did there (also worth a visit).  I ordered a latte in the hopes of getting some latte art, and Sunnie ordered a kiwi juice to reference to Harim’s exasperation at a difficult customer asking him to take all the seeds out of the kiwi juice.

Young Sook ordering at Coffee Prince

Coffee Prince latte

We sat near the curved windows, and were also saw the wine cabinet that Eun Chan restocks while over hearing Han Kyul discussing with his mother and grandmother returning to the US (are you figuring out our level of obsession yet?).

We had a great time, and honestly, Hongdae has a wonderful vibe so you should visit it anyway. We also picked up a  little espresso cup with the Coffee Prince logo on it. I’ll leave you with White Love Story, from the soundtrack, and a nice fan video showing some of the scenes.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. linda permalink
    February 20, 2011 5:20 pm

    i love this drama too!! i used to live in tokyo so i got to know the korean wave and became a big fan of korean dramas..my fave is lovers in paris!!!

  2. Bill permalink*
    February 20, 2011 5:42 pm

    I still haven’t seen Lover’s in Paris, only Lover’s in Prague. So many dramas, so little time! I’ll definitely have to check it out.

  3. February 21, 2011 1:10 pm

    Looks like a lovely trip with lots of good memories. Hope you enjoyed seeing your families as well. I enjoyed Hongdae too when I lived in Shinch’on.
    A veg*n question for you: what do you use instead of beef for bibimbap? I was thinking TVP but have never come up with a recipe that is savory enough with Korean taste. Usually I make dubu buchim and serve on the side because I have no idea what to put.

    • Sunnie permalink*
      February 21, 2011 3:09 pm

      Hi, Katherine! You lived in Shinchon? That is so wonderful. I went to Ewha for my undergraduate studies, so I am so in love with that area. Were you there for business? As for the bibimbap, to be honest, we never add anything in place of beef. I sometimes crumble in some seasoned tempeh or tofu sauteed with bulbogi seasoning, but we personally don’t think it adds much. We much prefer making several namul dishes (like chwi namul, kong (bean sprouts) namul, or spinach namul), and add those into the bibimbap for flavor. We also love using perilla oil (that is our favorite) for great bibimbap flavor. Even for omnivore Koreans, the ground beef for bibimbap is really an afterthought, not really adding much at all. Anyway, I think your dubu buchim sounds like a great idea, we’ll have to try that. Thanks for sharing, Katherine!

  4. February 23, 2011 1:53 pm

    I’m loving the Coffee Prince bias on this blog. :) It’s one of my favourite K-Dramas to date, the dynamics and friendship between the characters worked so well, I haven’t come across anything quite like it since. It’s great to see that the café actually exists, I will have to check it out if I ever go to South Korea.

    • Bill permalink*
      February 24, 2011 5:17 pm

      It’s definitely worth a trip. To be honest, I was geeking out pretty badly when we visited. Sunnie really likes Coffee Prince too, but I rank it a bit higher in my k-drama obsession list, so I was in full-on java jive mode when we visited!

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