Leave from exit 4 of Jongno-3-ga Station and you'll almost immediately find yourself at Ikseon-dong Alley, lined with a lot of beautiful shops. However, if you are a first-time visitor to Seoul, please understand that the area is not visible from the main street and soyoumay need some help getting there even though the alley is located in central Jongno. The alley was quiet for quite a while because the residents gave up on a redevelopment plan. As unique cafes and eateries started popping up, so did visitors from home and abroad. This alley where Korea’s past and present co-exist is well worth the visit.
Changhwadang is a renowned mandu (dumpling) eatery in Ikseon-dong. Its signboard reads “Changhwadang: Eatery Famous for its Mandu.” Inside are traditional silver nickel tables familiar to all the locals. You can taste different varieties of mandusuchas gogi mandu (meat dumpling), kimchi mandu (chopped kimchi and pork dumpling), menbosha (fried shrimp sandwich), and more, at very reasonable prices.
Of the many cafes in and around Ikseon-dong, the most famous one is Dongbaek Bakery. The Korean letters on its signboard are written vertically and its interior is reminiscent of what hanoks (a traditional Korean house) looked like for centuries. What makes this place so special is its famous dessert, the Strawberry Souffle Pancake, alongside the drip coffee and various types of tea. Should you have to wait for a table, you can expect to be served with “Welcome Tea” free of charge.
Ikseon-dong has a place where you can enjoy craft beer in an atmosphere unique to Korea. Called ARTMONSTER, the place has brought together a retro look appropriate to Ikseon-dong and a refine atmosphere for drinking hand-brewed beer in a mega city. Forsidedishes, there are delicious chicken and pizza options available. Visit ARTMONSTER to savor food and beer in a uniquely Korean setting.