The exception, however, is Takeout Drawing, a cafe chain that fuses design, imagination, and caffeine. With its distressed concrete walls, abundance of windows (which are kept open in nice weather), and minimal decor, Take Out Drawing resembles an architect's studio more than a coffeehouse.
The fact that the locations also function as art exhibition halls adds to the appeal of the cafe, as photographs, models and sketches of the cafes' artists-in-residence are displayed and rotated frequently, creating gallery spaces that allow visitors to witness the creative process first-hand. The sheer presence of the works also synthesizes an almost-tangible conceptual energy, which is great for people like myself seeking a bit of inspiration.
The newspapers at the counter act as menus, and contain rather poetic descriptions of the featured artists and Take Out Drawing's organic drinks and snacks. So poetic, in fact, that I often find myself scratching my head, trying hard to decipher what they actually mean. (Which I guess is the fun part of art, after all.) The beverages, inspired by past and present works on display, are inventive and playful.
The Jindallae Ade (₩8,000), for example, is a refreshing twist on a traditional Korean fruit punch that combines the delicate flavors of azalea petals, lemon, cinnamon and plum. Paul's Meringue Factory (₩7,500) is arguably the most aesthetic option; a cup of smooth espresso is topped with peaks of melt-in-your-mouth meringue, perfect for dipping. A personal favorite of mine is the Storming Ant (₩7,000), a sculpture-like beverage of organic black sesame-encrusted foam which "surges" over the coupe in which it's served when topped with hot or cold milk.
The cafe's selection of sweets include scones, cookies, quiches and cakes. Not to be missed are the Chocolate Issue. More Please! cake (₩7,000) and the Green Tea Dacquoise Cake (₩8,000).
The drinks and sweets are photo-worthy, and you should expect to pay high prices for these edible works of art. Whether you're an art lover or simply seeking a bit of creativity, Takeout Drawing is a great place to go for inspiration.
On your way out, pick up a few products designed by local artists, that vary from stationary to books to bags.
More Information: Take Out Drawing
Address: Hannam-dong Location: 683-139 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul [140-892 서울 용산구 한남동 683-139] Gyeongnidan Location: 637 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu [140-861 서울 용산구 이태원동 637]
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How to Get There: Hannam-dong: From Exit 3 of Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), walk for about 150 meters. After passing Coco Bruni, it will be on your left.; Gyeongnidan: From Exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), walk straight until you reach the entrance for the underpass. Walk under the street and walk out through the left exit. Cross the street and walk straight for about 2 minutes. It will be on your right, just before reaching the overpass.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.