Pick and Choose What You Like, Chocolate Shops in Seoul
For those moments when you need chocolate, here are three homemade chocolate shops located in Seoul that guarantee your satisfaction. They each sell chocolate made by a top-level chocolatier of Korea, teardrop-shaped chocolate perfect for a present, and chocolate mixed with alcohol for adults. Invest your time to taste these heavenly sweets.
Korean Classic Homemade Chocolate, Piaf
“Since there have been a previous generation of pioneers in the Korean chocolate market, I would be somewhere between 1.5 and second generation chocolatiers, if you will.” Piaf Artisan Chocolatier is run by Ko Eunsu, one of the top chocolatiers in Korea. Ko opened the shop in 2011 with a goal of offering a unique delicacy selection to customers by combining the classical aspect of French chocolate-making and Piaf’s own ideas and knowhow. Once an ordinary office worker, he chose the chocolatier’s career after a trip. “Back when I was still working for a company, I went on a vacation with my family and came across a French chocolatier’s shop by chance. I was shocked to be where things were in perfect harmony when they were simply selling chocolate bonbons. To look into my curiosity and amazement, I did some research and agonized over it over. As a result, I made it my goal to open a chocolate shop where not just the product but also its packaging or the buying experience can be appreciated.”
Chocolatier Ko designs the shop’s interior or product packaging himself in a sophisticated style that matches his chocolate. For example, he has released several limited-edition packages using a pop-up card, jewelry box concept, or mini dessert table assembly kit. In one corner of Piaf are chocolates specially made for Valentine’s Day. A photo frame showing French singer Edith Piaf is hung on the wall. There is a center showcase displaying neatly arranged chocolates. The shop always plays music by Edith Piaf. Homemade chocolates are bite-sized, but when you finish selecting the ones you’d like, an employee in a black uniform carefully places them on a silver tray as if they were some kind of jewelry.
Piaf presents over 20 types of bonbons and 15 kinds of tablets. The chocolatier never stops trying to create unfamiliar and new products. For last year’s Valentine’s Day, Piaf showcased “canelé” and “lemon tart” bonbons and “truffle pasta,” “yakgwa,” and “perilla leaf” bonbons collaborated with other leading food service providers. The tireless effort to make chocolate more than a simple delicacy can be proven through its flavor. “I try as hard to come up with a flavor, scent, texture, and shape that make sense as a combination as I do to select fresh themes for Piaf products. Instead of stopping short at stirring curiosity, Piaf runs numerous tests and develops techniques to make customers want to return to the shop again after their first experience,” said Ko proudly. Whichever flavor you may choose, it will be an eye-opening experience.
“I am certain that a piece of homemade chocolate made with high-quality ingredients, effort, and passion can create the happiest moment of the day. Our customers talk about the pleasure that homemade chocolate offers when consumed with a cup of warm tea, a glass of fragrant whiskey, or a loved one. I also believe chocolate is a food for your soul.”
How to Thoroughly Enjoy Piaf Chocolate
“For chocolate, it’s best to start with a weak flavor and move on to stronger ones. It could be in the order of white, milk, and dark chocolate, or you can taste solid chocolate first, then try the one with nuts, fruits, seasoning, or alcohol. That way, the taste can be felt more vividly.”
Piaf Artisan Chocolatier
Address 27-3 Apgujeong-ro 4-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Address 27-3 Apgujeong-ro 4-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Harmony of Lovely Shapes and Korean Ingredients, Adore
Adore is a chocolaterie selling lovely-looking chocolate as its name. Its best-selling product is the teardrop-shaped signature chocolate. Jang Ka-young, owner-chocolatier of Adore, hopes customers can detect what’s made by Adore even without a box revealing its logo. After much consideration and trial-and-error, she was inspired by an Ercuis plate(now used to display Adore’s signature chocolate on) to make the signature chocolate. That’s how the teardrop chocolate came about. Its smooth surface with a sheen and balanced flavor when mixed with fruit comfits can help you guess the amount of effort and affection put into the product. Individually, the signature chocolate is a teardrop, but in a box it becomes a petal of a flower. The unique chocolate colors attract those looking for a gift.
Jang’s use of ingredients for chocolate is diversified and Korean. “I wanted to use Korean ingredients for chocolate making as in cooking.” The signature chocolate “Adore Bonbon” recommended by the owner contains fruit-scented Ethiopian pepper, herbs, and Andong quince. Its delicate flavor and aroma intrigue customers. Her classic chocolate “Savory Bonbon” uses homemade soy sauce. The exquisite harmony between salty soy sauce and sweet cacao beans is extraordinary and amazing at the same time.
Jang actively seeks to collaborate with local farmers. “I’ve been working with farmer Lee Jang-wuk of Junhyeokine Farm. Last spring I made chocolate using edible flowers Lee had given to me. There are many herbs that are hard to find in a fresh condition in Korea, but some of them are being cultivated at the farm for me to harvest weekly.” What is Adore’s criteria in selecting ingredients such as adlay, white peach, and green yuja? “There are ingredients that taste good on their own, but offer double the flavor when mixed with chocolate.” Chocolatier Jang’s effort to add cheerfulness to chocolate through design and Korean ingredients continues on.
“I’ve been touched by a customer who proposed to his girlfriend with our chocolate, got married, and came back to buy chocolate again as a present to his wife. When tired or discouraged, Adore’s chocolate can give you a boost of energy.”
How to Thoroughly Enjoy Adore’s Chocolate
“To prevent it from being too hard, keep the chocolate at room temperature 30 minutes before eating and have it with a warm cup of tea in a quiet place. You’ll be able to feel the flavor and aroma better.”
Address 24 Seolleung-ro 116-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Address 24 Seolleung-ro 116-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Hot and Sweet Like Booze, chocolat dj
Jongno’s Naesu-dong is a quiet town. Not far from Gyeongbokgung Station and Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, the area becomes even quieter after the sun sets. On the ground floor of a residential building in Naesu-dong is a chocolate shop that opens only at night. It is chocolaterie “chocolat dj”(logo written in small letters) run by Lee Ji-yeon as a studio where she works on chocolate and spirits(liquor, an alcoholic beverage that is distilled) in the daytime and as a chocolate shop in the evening. “I wanted to break the typical notion that chocolate is mostly consumed by women and children and is something you buy on a special occasion. Chocolat dj started from an idea that a chocolate shop can be a place where you refresh yourself like when you drink or listen to the music for recreational purposes.” Chocolat dj is known as a chocolate shop for adults, selling chocolate containing alcohol; a chocolate shop you stop by on the way home from work; and a chocolate shop where bartenders frequent.
We were able to see four products Lee was working on when we visited chocolat dj. The four includes Whiskey Bonbon, a bite-sized classic chocolate bonbon carrying alcohol, Liqueur Pavé using ganache base to mix with chocolate and fresh cream, Chocolat Chaud using various spirits, and Liqueur Iceball combining ice cream and alcohol. We recommend its tasting course if you’re visiting chocolat dj for the first time. That way you can have a little bit of every taste the shop has to offer. “Being the studio shop, customers have a lot of questions. Our “tasting” presents a selection of chocolate samples. To compare it with music, tasting is live music whereas pick-up orders are like buying an album. Lee, who used to dream of becoming a radio host, now introduces herself as a “chocolatier with the soul of a bartender.” She discusses her chocolate which is hot and sweet like a shot of booze like a professional radio dj.
If you think the tasting course is too hardcore for you, try Absinthe, Chartreuse, or Shui Jing Fang that Lee recommends for Liqueur Pavé. “Our Liqueur Pavé offers a wide spectrum including herbs, kaoliang spirits, and whiskey. Jo Seung-won, a news reporter and writer of “To The Bar While Reading Haruki”(tentatively translated), has described Liqueur Pavé as a brick made of alcohol. Try to feel the fierce spirit within the creamy chocolate texture.” Can someone new to or unfamiliar with whiskey visit chocolat dj? Lee gives a clear answer to this question. “Of course! Even those who are not interested in whiskey can focus on chocolate. I’ve seen people who had no interest in chocolate grow fond of spirits. Just knock on the door. People say the air is different here at chocolat dj.” (smile) She added, “Toss your thoughts on chocolate and alcohol. The essence is identical.”
“Chocolate makes a nice present for someone else, but I wish our chocolate can be a piece of refreshment for the customer as well at any moment during a time off, while taking a walk after a meal, or having a coffee break at work. At nighttime after shower, it could be a nightcap to be shared with your loved one.”
How to Thoroughly Enjoy chocolat dj Chocolate
“Except in summer, keep Whiskey Bonbon at room temperature(17-19℃, around spring and fall), and Pavé in the refrigerator. When you have a short break from work, take a bite of Whiskey Bonbon. The alcohol inside will pop as the chocolate melts, giving you an instant boost of energy. With Pavé, instead of chewing, slowly melt it in your mouth. Our Liqueur Pavé tends to make a lasting impression.”