In Korea, Cafés are a dime a dozen. You can’t walk a block without seeing a Coffee Bean or a Tom & Tom’s. Although you can find huge corporate chains on every block, the smaller, more intimate cafes can often be hard to find, especially if you are unfamiliar with an area. In the last few months, I have found some very unique and upscale cafes which are well worth the extra dollar or two for a good cup of coffee. My favorite has been Baek Eok (100억), which means 10 billion in English.
Located down a side street near Gangnam Station, it is far away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded streets and sits atop a hill. BaekOek reminds me more of a chateau rather than a café. The outdoor portion of the café has tables with white umbrellas and small bushes around the exterior. The indoor portion is divided up into two levels. Each level has several different sections for different levels of comfort and feel depending on your needs. Because of this, I find it to be optimal “first date” café.
On the bottom level, there is an area that is very casual with LCD TVs and concrete walls, allowing you to be yourself and not feel to restricted or pressured by the atmosphere. On the bottom and top level there are couches with tables separated from each other with screens. This is an excellent place for couples or when you are thinking about taking it to the next level. There is also another section on the top level which is casual. Although I think this is an excellent first date café, they also have a business area. It comes complete with a display of the BaekOek Bank which is a vault full of money.
After looking around the café, I chose to sit in the casual section on the bottom level. MNet was being played on the LCD screen as I looked over my menu. The café had a large selection of beverages. There was tea that ranged from Green to Assam with approximately 14 different varieties. They also had a myriad of hot coffee, iced coffee, specialty drinks, smoothies, wine, and beer. The food items were essentially cake and waffles.
As I perused the menu, the New York Cheesecake caught my eye along with the Hazelnut Coffee and the Rooibus Tea. The tea was served in a small flower-laden tea pot and the coffee served similarly in a tall flower-laden cup. The cheesecake arrived at the same as the drinks.
To my surprise, a waffle with whip cream also appeared on my table. It was complimentary and comes with every order. The coffee was not too sweet, not too bitter, and had just the right amount of hazelnut syrup added to it. The Rooibus Tea was of excellent quality and seemed fresh. Excited about the beverages, I decided to try the deserts. New York Cheese cake is usually made with a very high percentage of cream. Because of this, it is usually smooth and light. Even at low temperatures, it will stay soft. However, the New York Cheese Cake that was served to me was a little bit gritty. It also seemed to actually have a cheese flavor. This was more like a Pennsylvania Dutch style rather than New York Style. Disappointed with the cheesecake, I tried the waffle. The waffle was not warm and a bit hard. However, it was free. I’m guessing that because the waffles are free, they mass produced them in the morning and reheated them as necessary (this is typical from restaurants when producing large quantities of food although not a good business practice).
Service was very good. The tables were constantly monitored by a suited Maitre d’ who sent one of his staff to attend to anyone whose water was not full, when they needed more napkins, or just to see how things were. The staff was professional and courteous. Although I was not dressed quite as professionally as most of the other customers and I was a foreigner, they were genuinely interested in making me happy and even had a short conversation with me as I left. In my opinion, good service is extremely important on a first date which is why I will recommend this café to anyone who is single in Seoul or anyone looking to relax with their other half.
- Excellent service
- Different styles of atmosphere for each seating area
- Quality beverages and a wide selection, and free mini waffle
- Foreigner friendly
- Food isn’t exactly as described
- Walking up the hill to get to the cafe can be a hassle. Especially during winter when it gets slippery.
- 서울특별시상남구역삼동618-11 100억카페
- Get out at Exit #7 at Gangnam Station (Line #2) and walk straight until you see CGV building. Make a right at the alley just before CGV building and walk uphill for 3-5 minutes. You will see several cafes aligning the hill and Baek Eok Cafe is on your right.
Google Map from Gangnam Station Exit 7:
View BaekEok Cafe Directions in a larger map
2nd, 3rd and 4th pictures are taken from BaekEok Cafe Website. The rest are taken from this Korean blog.