The name Cafe aA has always been under debate — some call it a cafe, others call it a museum, and there are even some people who consider this venue a showroom for designer’s furniture. But no matter what you call it, aA Design Museum (Cafe aA) provides a multitude of visual, historical, and culinary experiences that are sure to delight even the pickiest of cafe critics.
The venue has 5 floors, and a basement which is currently under construction. The cafe portion occupies the ground floor only, and the other four floors are a museum (which is well worth a visit, and is rarely crowded). The Cafe itself provides about 100 seats, and is divided into 3 parts — the main hall, the loft area, and the terrace.
Each area has its own unique feel. The main hall is spacious, and is the busiest part of the cafe. The loft area is comparatively quiet, and is ideal for reading or working on your laptop. And lastly, the terrace has a Europeean-style romantic atmosphere, and is the only smoking area.
According to their website, the lower-case ‘a’ in ‘aA’ stands for ‘art’, ‘architecture’, and ‘alive’, while the capital ‘A’ is “an unchangeable value, the best a person can get.” The venue is owned by the famous vintage furniture collector Myung-Hwan Kim, who also happens to own one of the most famous Italian restaurants in Hongdae, ‘AGIO’. The coexistence of classic and modern art in the Cafe is due to his 20 years of collecting vintage furniture and ornaments from around the world, and that is why they have so many different styles of tables and chairs. Among all the unique ornaments in the cafe, what stands out most to me are the mirror balls in the middle of the hall. They were created by Tunisian designer Tom Dixon, who is also the art director of one of the most well known furniture makers, Habitat. For those interested, sales can be arranged for certain pieces of furniture and ornaments.
Without further adieu, since it is a cafe, let’s focus on their desserts and coffee. Cafe aA provides an extensive menu including some light food like sandwiches. We ordered BokBunJa aA (KRW 7,000), Kahlua Cinnamon Ice (KRW 6,500), and a brownie (KRW 4,500). BokBunJa aA starts with raspberry concentrate on the bottom, the glass is filled with ice, and the whole thing is topped with vanilla ice cream. Mixing them all together creates a tart, creamy milk shake. This unique drink is one of the most popular drinks in Cafe aA. Kahlua Cinnamon Ice is what it sounds like — Kahlua and cinnamon. Although the waitress warned me that it contains alcohol from the Kahlua, it was pretty much non-alcoholic. The brownie was a little on the small side, but was not unreasonably priced.
Cafe aA is reasonably well-known in Hongdae for many reasons, and one of them is its unusual size. Hongdae is full of little artsy cafes and restaurants, but in stature, Cafe aA stands above the rest. If you want to escape this small-scale atmosphere, Cafe aA is the perfect spot.
|Salad||KRW 10,000 – 15,000|
|Sandwich (Hot or Cold)||KRW 8,000|
|Cake||KRW 3,500 – 4,500|
|Coffee||KRW 4,000 – 6,000|
|Tea||KRW 5,000 – 6,000|
|Organic Drinks||KRW 5,000 – 7,000|
|Smoothie||KRW 5,500 – 6,000|
- Full of well-designed furniture and ornaments
- Quality museum
- Reasonable prices
- 10% additional Tax
- No valet service
- Cafe mostly crowded and noisy
12:00 – 24:00 (Mon – Sun)
02 – 3143 – 7312
서울시 마포구 서교동 408-11
Facing Hong-Ik university, turn right and go straight. Make sure that you are on the right hand side of the road. When you see Seven-Eleven on your right, go into the street between the Seven-Eleven and Yogi. Keep walking until you see 화로사랑 (hwaro sarang). Make a left in front of 화로사랑 (hwaro sarang). Keep walking until you see Diwan-I-Am on your left, and Cafe aA is on your right.
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