Sunday, December 10, 2006


In the UK, you can basically guarantee a Starbucks and Costa in every city these days, but often the product differentiation stops at the drinks which are put on your table. Perhaps it's indicative of the sheer number of places to eat and drink here and the competition which goes alongside this, that some establishments work hard to create a theme alongside their offerings. I was particularly impressed with the presentational aspects of the Aqua Cafe in October - today we found ourselves at 'DecembeR' - where it's always winter.

What makes 'DecembeR' all the more remarkable is that it's so easy to miss from the street. Like many stores in Korea the entrance belies the nature of what you're about to enter. In 'DecembeR's case, it's set back from the main street heading up the hill to Dong-A University, because in fact the cafe itself is set behind the street itself rather than on it, with one floor at street level and another below.

Despite the frosted-white décor, white furnishings and winter lights, the December theme fortunately doesn't extend to the temperature, which was pleasantly warm unlike that outside. But is it
a case of all style and no substance, because pleasant surroundings are no substitute for other disappointments? Happily no, the care taken in the ambience seems to extend to what is sold, and our small group had some very nice coffees, ice cream and fruit juice. The free toast with cheese dip which seems to be automatically provided was also a pleasant surprise. I haven't been in Korea long enough to judge whether, at 15,500 won (£8.62) for four people, it's expensive, but it's cheap enough by UK standards which is still the measure by which my spending is gauged here.

The way such places are hidden away and often only discovered by chance makes me wonder how many more of these stumbled upon.

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