What I love about Seoul is that I never know day-to-day, week to week, what I am going to get myself into, or who I am going to meet. The adventures are always endless and the choices are so grandiose. Do I hike? bike? head to a coffee shop? be a tourist? head to the east coast beaches? shop? Or, do I decide to hop on a train and just explore a random train stop?
This weekend I decided to get myself back down to Seoul, specifically the Itaewon area and pick up freshly baked bread, as well as stop by and see my friend Mipa at her newly opened bake shop PLANT. Again, big surprise decisions made around food. I don’t care, I am not ashamed to admit that… my belly and my soul truly needed it.
The bakery of choice was Maybell 메이벨 베이커리오월의종. Maybell has been listed as one of the top 7 must get to bakeries if you ever find yourself in Seoul. What I love about Maybell is that you are not going to bite into a scrumptious crusty piece of bread to find chunks of corn or a crazy hot dog. Yes, I am serious.. it happens more than I’d like to admit here. I pick dainty little wonderfully looking creations from places like Paris Baguette, example a strawberry harmonica…and then there is a hotdog hiding in there! You think I’d learn too? No, I am almost always startled and find myself saying, “What in the world is this doing in here?” Oh Korea, ha-ha!
Maybell is the real deal, it’s true to form European-style bread. I knew that I had to get there quickly because they sell out rather early in the day. Well, I guess I wasn’t the only one with bread on the brain this afternoon, I got there and stood in a line that looped around the tiny bakery. Not to worry, there still was plenty of choices and I still was able to snag my favorites; cranberry rye, a loaf of rye, and ciabatta.
When leaving Maybell to head to PLANT, every time I’d moved my bag or bump it, the aroma of the bread would just swirl right out and up into my nostrils. Mmmmm… I could live in bakery if I could smell that all day everyday.
Prices: Baguettes ₩3,000; sourdough loaf ₩5,000
Hours: Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m., closed on Sundays
Address: 737-2 Hannam 2-dong, Yongsan-gu (용산구 한남2동 737-2);+82 02 792 5561
Conveniently Maybell isn’t that far from PLANT. I arrived at PLANT at the right time because there were only two woman sipping drinks and sharing conversation, eventually each seat at the three tables would become filled, as well as people waiting to grab a seat. This bit of lull gave me the chance to talk with Mipa for a few minutes. I asked about how she was doing and how business was, I was pleased to hear that she had been really busy and the business was going well. I then asked if I could snap a few photos for the blog because I wanted to help get the word out about her and her partners bake shop. She of course permitted and went back into her glass baking sanctuary to start on my lunch order.
Mipa is incredibly sweet and incredibly talented. She is very passionate about being vegan and loves to share her ideals and values through her food and blog. I knew that I had to grab lunch after seeing her post’s earlier in the week. The lunch menu for this afternoon was a tuna and chickpea salad or a teriyaki Tofu Sandwich. I wanted both! The decision was way to hard! In that moment I really wished Mr. B was with me so that he could get one option and I could get the other. I decided to ask the expert, Mipa. I explained that I needed to save room for a delicious treat afterwards, naturally. Mipa suggested the sandwich then, so the sandwich is what I ordered. Right away I decided that my treat afterwards would be a slice of red velvet cake with cashew cream frosting. All I can say is that both my belly and my soul are filled and oh so happy. The food was out of this world.
While sitting there reading my book and enjoying each bite of my sandwich, I ended up shared my table with another woman who looked to be the same age as me. We ended up exchanged a few stories, laughing together, and eventually chatting through our entire lunch while sitting there. It’s incredible when you meet a stranger that you are so comfortable with that you feel you knew practically your entire life. Again, I chalk the experience up to the unknown magic and endless possibility of Seoul. We made sure to exchange contacts and hope to get together again soon. Perhaps even at PLANT where it all began?
Directions to PLANT: ( Straight from Mipa, herself)
Itaewon Station, Line 6, exit 4. Come out the exit and walk straight, down Itaewon road. There will be a Converse store on your left. Immediately after Converse, turn left into the narrow alleyway with steps. Walk down the steps and cross the next intersection. Continue walking straight and go down an alleyway, passing a pasta restaurant on your left. Keep walking a little further and PLANT will be on your right. 5-7 minute walk from the station.
서울시 용산구 이태원동 63-15
Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-7pm. Lunch service starts at noon.
Closed on Mondays.