Bastille co-owner Hur Jiuk and three friends launched their uber-chic, cereal-centric hangout this April.
Channeling a bohemian vibe, the open-air dessert spot melds a black-and-white-stripe prison style ― a nod to its historic name ― with a posh, foodie ambiance.
On any given day, one can find customers wielding camera phones or just plain old cameras, taking snaps and spooning up ice cream in the late spring sun, sitting convivially on benches or standing inside the cool interior of the shop.
Orders are taken in front of an over-the-top glass showcase loaded with heaps of pink salt and mint-green macaroons, a visual preview to the menu’s toppings, while soft serve is served up in a double-layered, dry-ice-lined cup, so that cold curls of vapor rise up from around the ice cream, a stroke of genius in this Instagram and blog-heavy era.
“Soft serve melts quickly,” Hur, 28, said. “We put dry ice (in) to prevent it from melting and also for visual effect.”
While soft serve appears to be the dessert du jour at Bastille, Hur is quick to point out that this shop is a self-titled cereal bar.
Breakfast, Hur revealed, is the overarching concept of Bastille, which is currently selling soft serve and milkshakes infused with corn-, cinnamon- and chocolate-flavored cereals.
“In the winter we will do other cereal-based stuff like cereal tea,” he explained.
For now, it is ice cream and milkshakes.
While cereal-flavored soft serve is not new ― take New York-based Momofuku Milk Bar’s famous swirls of “cereal milk,” for instance ― it is relatively if not completely novel for Seoul’s soft serve scene.
Bastille may be one of the first spots in Seoul to specialize in three flavors of cereal-infused ice cream, and if not the first, then the new dessert spot definitely gets the idea of ice cream that tastes just like a bowl of milk-topped cereal.
Corn cereal-flavored ice cream is buttery and nutty and sweet all at once. Cinnamon cereal soft serve is creamy and subtly nuanced with spices, while chocolate rice cereal tastes like glazed grain puffs coated in chocolate.
While the soft serve tastes fine on its own, the four topping combinations on the menu definitely elevate the experience.
Christened American, French, Italian and New Zealand Breakfast, the four morning-for-dessert pairings range from bacon and maple syrup to Italian macaroons and raw Bolivian cane sugar.
“We will be changing the paired toppings soon,” Hur revealed.
Those who want a savory kick to their dessert can top their corn cereal soft serve with the American bacon and maple syrup combo for a sugary, salty and nutty breakfast-in-a-cup treat.
As for the shakes, the confusingly named Joe Ribbon, which is actually a phonetic nod to the Korean puffed grain snack Jolly Pong, its main ingredient, merits a sip for its nutty richness and crucial pop of salinity.
Other flavors are on their way, said Hur, who also hinted at bigger plans for Bastille, with more outposts slated for South Korea and overseas locations like Shanghai and Sydney.
|Bastille, a cereal-centric hangout, opened in Seoul’s Itaewon district this April. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
● 118-19, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (02) 749-6641
● Open Sundays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Fridays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
● Soft serve ice cream costs 4,000 won, toppings cost 1,300 won, shakes cost 5,500 won
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org)