To Go Coffee Shop / Seomi & Tuus House Object Gallery
32-21 Chae-Dong, Chongro-gu
Seoul, South Korea
With long business hours (Mon~Fri, 7am to midnight; Sat, 7am to 11pm; Sun, 9am to 10pm) and a serious dedication to contemporary art and design – given their ties to a nearby gallery – the To Go Coffee Shop housed within this quaint brick-and-glass building made for the best of both worlds. Open early enough for a warm cup of coffee to get your day going, but also laid back and aesthetically interesting with its display of modern artwork to make you want to stay longer than you normally might just to take in the scene.
The bukchon neighborhood follows a similar dual dynamic. Retro remnants of a by-gone era with traditional architecture and residences that take you back in time, flanked by rows of ultra hip and trendy shops popular with the city’s busy youth. The latter characteristic reminded me of the ura-Harajuku area of Tokyo. I have a friend who works as an assistant director at one of the many galleries here, and I’d always heard interesting things from her about hanging out and working in this district, so I had to check it out for myself, camera in hand.
But back to the coffee house. As well as slightly expensive coffee, there is a decent sized menu that listed various sandwiches and warm soups, as well as other hot and cold beverages. Real hot chocolate had some appeal, but instead opted for a smooth cup of matcha latte. It was definitely well made, using pure ingredients and not some pre-made powder. The scent of it as it was brought to our table signaled this immediately to me. I like mine slightly sweet but leaning on the bitter side, trying to keep the essence of the matcha inside. They had it just right and the creamy texture from the infused milk made this a winner in my books.
I honestly wish I could spend more of my working days like this, in environments such as this, that give me peace and calmness. I could just chill and take in the street scene and listen to hum of the conversation of those around me. No laptops in sight, unlike so many of those commercial chain coffee joints. Despite being a lover of technology, I am always open to cutting the leash to the internet, my smart phone and the like, to be able to return to simpler ways and times.
For what’s better than not having to worry about the clock and being on the go all the time, and sitting quietly with a good book or with music playing on my headset with a warm beverage in hand. I tell you, that is the life.
I suppose I should touch on this small meal I had, as the drink alone wasn’t going to keep me going the rest of the afternoon, as I’d planned to visit some other close by areas and would be walking a lot. It was a veggie (fresh tomato) and mozzarella cheese) panini. Not much to say other than that it took some time to arrive, and I could see them putting it together behind the counter and into the pressing machine. As eating a meal was not high on the priority list for this stopover while I did my walkabout – tourist map in hand – I honestly don’t remember a lot about it other than to say I did finish it and it was completely edible. I had a fuller meal a few hours later in a part of town that took me about fifteen minutes to walk to. Stay tuned for that…