Crisp, cool weather invites warmer fare like hot soups exhaling curls of steam, cups of heartwarming coffee laced with creamy milk, and crunchy-edged sandwiches, fresh off the panini grill.
Sunset Swimming Sandwich specializes in hot sandwiches, soup and coffee like their truffle egg croissant (front), potato bacon panini (back), rich corn soup (right) and creamy and potent latte (left). (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
That is precisely what one will find at Sunset Swimming Sandwich, a sandwich bar that opened last month in Seoul’s Sinsa-dong.
“I felt most confident about sandwiches and coffee,” Sunset Swimming Sandwich founder Lee You-jin explained.
Before Lee launched her sandwich bar in September, she first dipped her toes into the dining scene with Knock Knock Bakery in 2016.
Lee, who studied hospitality in America, wanted to open a small, neighborhood brunch spot that reminded her of days spent munching on bread, sandwiches and salads while living on the East Coast.
Within in a year, Knock Knock gained a following and settled into its perch in Seoul’s Daechi-dong. Lee was ready for her second act.
“I wanted to do a different concept in a different space,” said Lee, 38.
After a year of searching for the right spot, Lee found what she was looking for -- a location on a quiet stretch of street that she could transform into a tranquil cafe with soft white walls, natural wood accents and an outdoor veranda complete with purple verbena.
The front of the cafe boasts massive windows over broad wood benches and stools where cafegoers can bathe in the sun and take Insta-worthy snaps of Sunset Swimming Sandwich’s tasty fare.
“We had customers on the first day we opened,” Lee voiced her own surprise at how quickly her sandwich bar attracted attention.
Sunset Swimming’s menu features five sandwiches, a soup of the day and a morning set.
For the moment, the cafe’s popular corn soup has become a temporary fixture of the menu until Lee rotates it out.
Topped with a dollop of milk foam, Sunset Swimming’s corn soup is creamy, buttery, sweet, umami, with that crucial kick of salinity.
“Onions and potato are sauteed for a long time in butter before we add the corn, cream and milk,” Lee divulged how the soup is made.
Sandwiches include the cafe’s decadent truffle egg affair where a massive, flaky, buttery croissant is filled with a warm, custardy egg scramble, sauteed oyster mushrooms and showered with grated Grana Padano cheese. Truffle oil infuses the sandwich with an additional layer of richness.
There is also Lee’s personal favorite -- the potato bacon panini.
“It has spinach and red onion in it, which gives it texture, and the acidity of the sour cream goes with the salty punch of the sandwich,” said Lee.
This sandwich, with its filling of salty bacon, starchy potato, spinach, red onion and gooey Muenster cheese, tastes a lot like a baked potato, the kind served topped with bacon bits, chives and cheese, especially when one adds a dollop of sour cream, which is served on the side, to it.
Hot coffee, to go with the sandwiches and soup, is equally solid at Sunset Swimming.
“We are not a roastery,” said Lee, explaining how she searched high and low for the right coffee.
Lee said she went for Market Lane Coffee from Melbourne because “the coffee feels lighter so one can really enjoy its aromas.”
At Sunset Swimming, the Americanos are strong but neither intensely acidic nor incredibly rich while the lattes, crafted from two full espresso shots, are potent yet creamy.
Plans are to add desserts to the line-up as well as seasonal sandwiches.
Sunset Swimming Sandwich, a sandwich bar, opened in Seoul’s Sinsa-dong in September. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Sunset Swimming Sandwich
1F, 643-28 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seou
Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends
Sandwiches cost 9,500 won to 13,000 won, today’s soup costs 7,000 won and coffee-based drinks cost 4,500 won to 6,500 won
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org