Danish food—you don’t really hear much of it in Seoul. There are some open-sandwich restaurants that have gained some attention as of late, but not too many that complete a Danish experience. Seoulites, always ready for something new, will be glad to know that a 3 story restaurant located right in the middle of Hongdae is offering up food, drinks and an atmosphere that are refined, cozy and very much Nordic.
With its frosty white interiors, rough wooden ceilings, frosted windows and burning candles, Hygge VEN Køkken located on the 2nd floor makes you feel as if you're in a Danish country home during a winter storm. You can find everyday Danish meals here, including the elaborate, 9 piece smørrebrød (homemade rye bread topped with smoked salmon, gravlax, pork rillettes, beef liver pâté, sliced beef tenderloin, Camembert cheese, sliced jamón, shrimp with avocado, and seasonal fruits) and the daily Special Tray (daily soup, soft boiled egg, rye bread, jamón slices, salad with lingonberry dressing, cheese, rillettes, and dessert). For their lunch menu, the Hygge chicken, served with grilled chicken and Gorgonzola cheese sauce on a Dutch baby pancake, is rich in flavor and with unexpected bits of pleasing texture. While some might want to add salt or pepper to taste, VEN's version of Dutch pancake is fluffy and just savory and sweet enough to go with the chicken. The Steamed Mushroom dish comes with 4 types of steamed hidden under thinly sliced quality jamón and poached eggs, and a slightly sweet sesame sauce on the side. Be wary however, for those who can’t take too much of the edible fungus, should make sure to share this dish with someone who can (I personally wished I could have this for breakfast every morning). Aside from that, the combination of textures and flavors that the ingredients come to create in this dish was comforting and just familiar enough. With its own bar with a separate entrance and a very different décor on the first floor, there's a nice selection of To Øl and Mikkeller beers, both draft and bottles, served here. If you walk up to the 3rd floor to use the restroom, you might be surprised to see a quite large private party space that is beautifully and minimally decorated. It can seat up to 10 people, and comes with a cute waiting lounge type section outside it.
Another thing I noticed here is the service. The chefs and waiting staff at Hygge VEN are happy to share their knowledge on their dishes as well as Danish food culture. In the middle of Hongdae, the restaurant certainly brings what it promises: Danish coziness ("hygge") and friendliess ("ven").