Hong Seok-cheon, probably the most prominent openly gay celebrity in Korea, came out in the year 2000. Following the incident, he faced massive stigma leaving him to be unfairly kicked out from all his network television programs and advertisements, no longer being able to land any major roles. It was then he decided to open his first restaurant, My Thai, in Itaewon. The restaurant had a great ambience, on par with the menu, making it a great venue for large gatherings and even birthday celebrations. No one ever imagined Hong Seok-cheon as a restaurateur, yet many celebrate his success.
Now, Hong Seok-cheon is the owner of 7 large restaurants in Itaewon. All of his venues are characterized by the prefix “My,” for example My Hong, My Chi Chi’s, My Thai and My Noodle. They clearly have different names, but most of his restaurants follow a similar concept and menu. My Chelsea and My Chi Chi’s serve pasta and pizza while My Noodle, My Thai and My Hong serve Thai cuisine.
Over the years, however, these once famed restaurants have been slightly devalued. Many of the customers now are in their early 20’s while the food, most importantly, is not a strong competitor to many of the new restaurants, bistros and cafes that have taken Itaewon, Haebangchon and Gyeongridan by storm. Nevertheless, the price tag is pretty friendly (10,000 won for pasta) and the flavors are pretty mainstream. The service however, is reminiscent of Hong Seok-cheon’s friendly attitude as waiters will even suggest great angles for your daily instagram shot.
Recently My Sweet, a homey yet refined café, has been garnering some attention. Their rose pasta or focaccia sandwich are perfect for a light lunch and gossip session with your friends. Another plus is the rooftop and second floor bars that are well stocked. Just like Hong Seok-cheon’s rigorous climb back to fame and success, this café encompasses nothing too pretentious but still gives off a dignified vibe. Maybe My Sweet represents a small gift and ‘thank you’ to those who helped and supported him through his hard days.