On the Sinsa-dong side of Dosan Boulevard, you’ll find storefronts along Garosugil that are here today, gone next week. But on the other side of Dosan, you’ll find little cafes and bistros that look like they belong on the aforementioned tree-lined street—sans crowds. Around the Corner has been in business for several years now, catering to a limited but consistent traffic of single room dwellers and creatives hustling in and out of the post-production houses scattered around Nonhyeon-dong, one of Seoul’s most posh yet residential neighborhoods. The hype surrounding this walk-up cafe may have died down (as indicated by their nearly defunct Naver cafe that was last updated in 2008), but that makes it all the more worth visiting for those seeking solace, a bit of nostalgia, and without question, a respectable brew.
The interior can be summed up in one word: agijagi (아기자기), which means charming and cutesy, but is also synonymous with DSLR-toting Korean girls and bloggers. It describes mismatched furniture, the typical celebrity signatures tacked up on the wall, empty tin cans with a splash of color here, and a touch of kitsch there. Situated in the back of the cafe is a bright, skylight-lit sitting room that feels like a raw studio or a garage that is halfway through being renovated into a sunroom. With comfortable chairs, cluttered desks and a cast-iron heater centerpiece, this cozy enclave makes Around the Corner feel like your own personal hideaway.
Likewise, the range of menu items is agijagi and diverse, offering mint chocolate chip milkshakes, cheesy sandwiches and special brunch dishes in addition to coffee and typical variations on a waffle. The cafe also prides itself in its selection of unique homemade teas infused with fresh fruit and other nontraditional, non-dried ingredients. One of the signature teas is the vitamin tea. While the name may not sound so appetizing, the warm concoction of citron, orange, grapefruit and pineapple is generously sweet and slightly tart enough to be your new summer nectar of choice.
Like many post-modern Korean establishments, Around the Corner offers tables as well as a large elevated deck with floor tables as an alternate sitting area. This stunted loft invites you to remove your shoes and relax (if you can, cross-legged) on flat cushions and peruse the comic books and magazines on rack. Don’t be surprised to find that some of these periodicals are nearly a couple decades old. This hideaway in the backroads of Nonhyeon-dong would have been a perfect match for your brooding, teenage self anyway.
Pairings: Feast on the hearty burgers at Patty & Veggie, literally just three steps away, before hitting the cafe for dessert.
Note: This cafe is not affiliated with the Around the Corner in Cheongdam-dong that also offers coffee and brunch.