As much as Insadong is often considered overrated, I have always loved the place and its countless galleries, romantic alleys and idyllic atmosphere. I can’t recall how many evenings have I spent just walking around the neighborhood, getting lost here and there in the vintage clothing stores or cramped stairs to a well-hidden coffee shop. Despite the heat creeping up to every pore on the surface of my skin, I was determined to take a trip to Insadong for the sake of a quiet evening.
We stopped by this cute little cafe called 별다방미스리 (Miss Lee’s cafe). Having heard about this cafe couple of times already made me antsy and excited (yes I’m really easy to be entertained) to explore the place. Miss Lee’s cafe is quite famous for serving traditional sweets and dosirak (Korean lunch box), a commonplace for teenagers to go to after school.
We ordered a dosirak (5000 KRW), a basket of sweets (5000 KRW) and a plate of persimmon (4500 KRW).
If bento is known as the art of delicate and beautiful arrangement of food items then dosirak is at the far opposite end of bento. To eat dosirak in a proper way, you have to mix all ingredients together, close the lid tightly and shake the box well just to add more fun. When you open the lid, what you see is a sloppy reddish mix of everything that all you need to do left is eat it right away. It’s pretty flavorful and well, very Korean.
While we were eating the dosirak, my Korean friend told me stories about dosirak and was positively sure this version of dosirak was the exact traditional one that her parents used to bring to school back in the days. The box, made of metal, is believed to keep the heat of the food last longer. During winter days, students can just put it on the heater and the food inside will be warmed up in no time.
The sweets are mostly made of sugar, rice, nuts and perilla seeds, which are strongly reflective of the Korean lifestyle from the main ingredients to how they are used in daily life. As a person who’s fond of sweet, I enjoyed everything served in the basket.
This is my favorite. It tasted exactly like the mooncake‘s batter:
Perilla seed candy:
Here comes the winner of the day: frozen persimmon. I love persimmon and I just love the whole idea of the fruit itself: the sweetness so fresh and sophisticated, the color and the fragrant smell. Many people don’t like persimmon for the acrid taste lingers on their tongue but that only happens when you eat the unripe ones.
View from the window:
Menu (these are only the specialties of the shop, not the full menu. Normal drinks range from 5000 to 7000 KRW):
Miss Lee’s cafe is a place that you should drop by and have a taste of Korean traditions. They also have the website so you can check it out here: http://missleecafe.co.kr/ – apparently Korean idols have been here for filming no wonder it’s so popular. They also have two branches in Myungdong and Daehakro.
Miss Lee’s cafe, Anguk Station, exit 6: