Baker Street/Café Mori is the third in a 5-part series detailing The Jeju Weekly’s best picks for coffee. – Ed.
Korean girl power rules at this coffee shop and bakery run by a brother and sister duo.
“The customers are 99-percent female, typically university students and business women,” said Baker Street owner Kang Nam Woong. His younger sister, Kang Yeon Ju, runs Café Mori, a second-floor, joint space tucked away on a back street in City Hall.
It makes sense.
“Women like sweet things,” my friend and translator surmised. “In Korea, it is not a normal thing that a man goes to a coffee shop.”
This reporter was out of place – in Korea, on Jeju, in this coffee shop. A triple whammy. Needless to say, there are reasons this location was packed and enjoying success since opening in April 2010. A masterful, short story writer could immortalize the formulaic mannerisms, pitched verbosity, and matching attire of its loyal patrons.
The beverages served here can be found anywhere. The bakery selections are a different story.
Look inside the glass enclosures. These things will make one gawk: tiramisu, mixed rich brownies, pound cake, scones, strawberry rolls, éclairs, mini cheese cake slices, delicate chestnut filled pastries, crème brulee and whipped cream cakes. There is much more all for a few thousand won and up.
“These days people are emphasizing well-being,” Kang said. “Many times, there are not places workers can enjoy their free time, and there is no place like this to bake.”
Kang opened the space where he can make pastries and teach people how to bake many desserts. He does not bake bread, only cookies and pastries. His passion is baking, and he offers one-day classes (40,000 won), or monthly classes (160,000 won), once each week.
The students are, not surprisingly, housewives and women workers.
“People know the importance of eating well,” Kang said. “There are many things that are not good for the body such as preservatives in jams or snacks found in supermarkets. [While baking] people see the ingredients. They make the creations themselves and they eat together after.”
Born on Jeju, Kang went to university on the mainland and lived alone, so he made food by himself. He said baking was difficult even though he read a lot of books. His interests led him to attend institutions for baking, and he held jobs at a bakery in Seoul and at the Hyatt Hotel in Seogwipo before opening this space with his sister.
Kang also designed the interior by himself. It’s a faux-European, souped-up version of a small IKEA showroom. Simple. It works.
He likened it to classical music, it goes a long way. He wanted the design to not easily become tiring.
Unassuming, yes, but perhaps the books are the best part of this space. There are a multitude of English, Japanese and Chinese color photography cooking tomes to read.
“I read the English books for baking,” Kang explained. “I’ve read them all more than once. I sometimes make another recipe or menu or invent something else ... This place is for baking and study. I want people to bake and read materials from those books.”
At first he just placed the books for interior show, but unexpectedly customers started reading. Since he wants people to talk about baking, he tries to periodically add more.
Coffee starts at 3,500 won and migrates upward along with tea selections. Vanilla and green tea ice cream goes for 3,000 won. The other beverage list is worthy of a glance as raspberry aid, pink lemonade, kiwi juice and a banana yogurt shake are marked on the chalkboard.
Kang relayed an interesting story of where some of his cooking creations go; namely, the attendees’ children’s teachers. It was not uncommon years ago for parents to hand over envelopes to their children’s teachers because those educators would stay longer than expected at school. Now the practice is considered illegal. However, passing over gifts is not.
“They can give the cookies,” Kang said, “to their children or their co-workers or the teachers.”
Baker Street/ Café Mori in City Hall area Ido2dong 1186-21 2F Telephone: 064-757-7004 Hours: Weekdays, 11 to 11; Weekends, 11 to midnight
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