Today we visit another of Seoul's chic and trendy hotspots for the young and young-at-heart (the latter was slipped in to comfort my naive ego).
On a beautiful sunny spring day sometime last week, we visited Sinchon and its neighbouring vicinity, Ewha Womans University. "Sinchon" literally means "new town" and "ewha" is the flower of pear trees. This area is a popular hunting ground for students (and also a popular hunting ground for students, or so I'm told *cough*), and is home to several universities, namely Yonsei University, Hongik University, Sogang University and Ewha Womans University (no typo, it's "Womans" I tell ya).
Getting off at the Sinchon subway station, one of the first Sinchon landmarks to greet you is the Hyundai Department Store. That's the tall building you see in the photo with the huge red banner. (sidenote : take note that there's Sinchon and there's Sincheon and are nowhere close to each other!)
Sinchon offers lots of great places for good food. As with most popular hotspots, there's always a Tourist Info Centre nearby, usually close to the subway stations. Grab yourself a guide book to the area. The Seoul Metro Government publishes a ten booklet series entitled "10 Best Places in Seoul". Grab the Sinchon & Ewha edition (booklet no. 4), and in it you'll find a detailed and comprehensive guide to all the reputable restaurants in the neighbourhood. The streets are lined with eateries left and right. There's even a "sam gyeob sal" street beside the Hyundai Department Store.
I've passed this place many times but beside a casual peek inside once, I've never patronised it. Perhaps the air of romance that surrounds this place makes it ackward for me to go in alone. I'm told that this place is an institution revered by the student population here. And I'm a believer, as the weekend queue going into this place is looooooong. This is Mindelle Yeongto (민들레영토). It is dubbed a "culture cafe" with six stories of private rooms, each floor with a different theme, for groups of friends or love couples to spend "quality time" over drinks and cakes and pastries.
Tucked away in a quiter corner beside the railway line that borders this area is this architectural beauty of a church. A surprising find, to me at least, in this jungle of monotony. The building lends an aura of a bygone era nestled amongst the characterless buildings in the area.
About 500 metres' walk from Sinchon, you arrive at the neighbouring Ewha Womans University area. If you're not into walking from Sinchon (yes 500 metres may seem like a marathon to some), then get off at the Ewha subway station, which drops you right smack here.
This area is a shopping paradise for the chic and hip, and is lined with clothes, shoes, accesories, you name it, in bright lively colors of this spring season.
It's a myriad of small lanes and every corner leads you to more. You'll need to bump and grind your way around on a busy day.
I came across this restaurant which had a unique entrance, to say the least. Choo-choo your way to this restaurant if you get a chance and let me know how's the food. The only spoiler to this replica were the neighbour's air-conditioner compressors.
This is a new cafe along the main street leading to Ewha Womans University's entrance. I don't recall seeing this the last time I was here. Very apple green - nice colour scheme. Notice the internet kiosks in the middle section, and also the outdoor garden seating area right at the back. Great idea, a choice of inside or out. Looks like a nice place for a relaxing cuppa and some cakes whilst you gossip about Ha Ri Su.
But instead I ended up at Star$ for my Caramel Frappucino. KRW5,000. What better way to end the day than a nice cold Frap Grande.
So, in conclusion, here's the deal. If you're into the food, head straight for Sinchon. Lots of good food everywhere. It'll take you months before you finish try each and every place. If it's girlie shopping that you want, head on over to Ewha. The streets are lined with fashionable goodies.