None of the Korean-style desserts at Atelier DoSuHyang, located in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul are what one would expect to find at a traditional Korean rice cake shop.
While there are “injeolmi” -- rice cake made by pounding steamed glutinous rice flour into sticky submission -- and “yaksik” -- glutinous rice treats customarily seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and honey -- neither are the kind commonly found at rice cake shops in Korea.
Absent are the more recognizable rectangles of injeolmi coated in that familiar brown soybean powder. Instead, North Korean-style injeolmi are served, two at a time, with one’s choice of coffee or “matcha” (pulverized green tea).
As for the yaksik, when ordered, small dainty orbs of sticky rice arrive in delicate flavors like “yuja” -- a fragrant citron -- or rose, both a far cry from their traditional caramel-hued cousins.
Even “danpatjuk” -- a popular sweet red bean porridge -- has been replaced with a distinctly ivory variation.
Atelier DoSuHyang in Cheongdam-dong (Photo credit: Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
“We do not want to be a run-of-the-mill ‘tteok’ (rice cake) cafe,” co-owner Kim Do-hyun, 33, explained about the unconventional Korean treats at his cafe.
Atelier DoSuHyang, which opened three months ago, is the sister shop of the eponymous DoSuHyang, a tteok store that opened in Sinsa-dong in 2005.
The Sinsa-dong tteok spot became known for its North Korean-style injeolmi, which Kim explained is different from its more well-known soybean garnished sibling because it is coated in “geopi pat,” a dark blue sweet bean that is soaked and peeled before being made into a powdery ivory paste.
“A lot of work goes into making geopi pat,” said Kim.
It is not hard to see why DoSuHyang’s North Korean-style injeolmi put it on the map. The geopi-pat plays a key role in the allure of this treat, acting as a thick, rich, chestnut-like shell to the gooey, uber-soft rice cake within.
Atelier DoSuHyang serves set lunches that need to be reserved a day in advance (Photo credit: Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
“At the Sinsa-dong store, one can only buy rice cakes by the box and customers wanted to enjoy a little tteok with coffee,” Kim explained how the idea for a place where people could sit down and enjoy their treats came about.
At Atelier DoSuHyang, customers can also enjoy lunch sets, which need to be reserved a day in advance, along with desserts that also include a sweet porridge made with geopi-pat, chestnuts and, according to Kim, “a dash of cream.”
One can also enjoy DoSuHyang’s own unconventional take on yaksik, which Kim calls “yakbap,” like their rose variation, which features rose jam, almonds, cranberries and geopi-pat with sweet rice.
“We are thinking of increasing our line-up of yakbap,” Kim added.
Atelier DoSuHyang’s North Korean-style “injeolmi” (far left) and rose and “yuja yaksik” and “patjuk” made from "geopi-pat" (Photo credit: Yoon Byung-chan/The Korea Herald)
62-33 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
(02) 541-3332; dosuhyang.com
Open daily from noon to 6 p.m., closed Sundays
North Korean-style injeolmi and coffee or matcha sets cost 7,500 won to 9,500 won, DoSuHyang patjuk costs 8,000 won, yakbap costs 5,000 won, lunch sets cost 21,000 won to 28,000 won, coffee-based drinks cost 4,500 won to 6,000 won
By Jean Oh (email@example.com