Back in the day, I used to try interesting snacks and ice-cream from the mom and pop stores, but the Monaka ice cream that I used to eat with my parents at the fancy bakeries was also a big part of my childhood. The Monaka isn't your average saccharine fruit-flavored ice-cream - the milky, crackly ice cream sandwiched between two crispy biscuits...mhmm! Maybe that's the reason why I still find myself going back to reminisce while biting into a Monaka ice-cream from Taegeukdang. Known to be one of the oldest bakeries in Seoul, once you step into the Taegeukdang at the Jangchoongdong location, you'll notice the interior design and typography reminiscent of 1946 when it all began. The magic of leaving a bakery filled with kitschy yet nostalgic breads and ice-cream to return to 2015!
It has already been ten years since I went to France to learn French baking at a culinary school. That was the beginning of the love-hate relationship that I have with flour and sugar even today. During the three years of working at a bakery upon graduation, I discovered breads - a new world beyond my studies in baking. The sound of the golden crust of a fresh baguette breaking, and the warm and flavorful aromas of freshly-baked goods in the morning were awe-inspiring. After realizing such joys of baking, I started visiting different bakeries whenever I had the time, trying different breads and shared information on social media, eventually creating an extensive, delicious online community.
Before tasting all the breads and desserts Seoul has to offer, there are some places in particular I would like to recommend others. As bread and dessert culture became injected into Korea, there are a handful of masters who have consistently made bread - those who have established the standard for "classic" in Korea. I would like to introduce five bakeries and their most popular items.