Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cafe Seolhwa: A Bowl of Snow

Last Wednesday, I have finally met with Mica, a friend whom I haven’t seen in a long time. We’re both Korean cuisine enthusiasts so we decided to try Café Seolhwa, a Korean desserts place located in Bonifacio Global City Forum that opened just last summer, yet grabbed the top spot in this looloo list of Top 10 New Restaurants in Manila for the First Half of 2015.

I was welcomed with a warm greeting the moment I entered. The walls were mostly in white and gray tones. One of them was covered with a huge mirror while a couple of them was designed with cute wallpapers showing a polar bear with a bowl of bingsu and a penguin with a frappe. The wooden chairs and tables gave a warm ambiance

I ordered their Bulgogi Croissant for lunch. I didn’t have other options in mind. I was determined to try it because it was my first time to hear such fusion: the Korean signature beef viand, bulgogi, and the popular French bread, Croissant. It’s one of those East-meets-West dishes combined in one plate. Bulgogi is normally eaten with rice while Croissant is usually eaten with lettuce, tomatoes, and ham or tuna. I wondered how their combination would taste like. After a few bites and chews, my tongue recognized that it was a blend of sweet, salty, and sour. The bulgogi strips exuded the sweet and salty taste while the sourness came from the tomato slice. I must admit, it was quite a weird combination. Lesson learned: bulgogi and tomato don’t go well together. But looking at the quality of each of the ingredients, it was a satisfying meal. The bulgogi was savory and juicy while the lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes tasted fresh. 

Dessert time came, and honestly, I was pretty indecisive in choosing what kind of sweets to get. Cafe Seolhwa has a wide range of desserts. They have flavored toasts like Honey Butter and Cheese Garlic and mini pancake sandwiches à la petit four made of glutinous rice cake called hodduk, which comes in several flavors like Cream Cheese, Honey Nuts, Red Bean, Berries, and Grilled Banana. They also have the famous Red Velvet cake. But in the end, I chose to have Korea’s signature dessert, bingsu, which is the Korean counterpart of our halo-halo. What sets them apart though is that bingsu comes in a variety of flavors. I picked choco bingsu out of the 12 flavors they offer, some of which are: berry cheese, strawberry, mango, and green tea. The presentation and quantity were excellent: it was a tall serving of chocolate shaved ice, Koko Krunch, chopped Oreos, brownie chunks, and whipped cream with a sprinkle of chocolate powder. The chocolate shaved ice—or chocolate snow as Café Seolhwa prefers to call it—looked like miniature sparkling shards of glass. Gorgeous. Anyone would be able to tell that the ice was shaved delicately. The dessert was around six inches of chocolate goodness, perfect for anyone who wants to satisfy their chocolate craving.

I wasn’t even done with my bingsu yet when this cute Korean server placed a bowl of bingsu on our table. Mica and I looked at each other with wonder as neither of us ordered it. Then the guy said that it was a free taste test of coffee bingsu, their latest flavor addition. It consisted of milk snow with diced cheesecake on the sides, toffee toppings, and sliced almonds. At first, we were quite puzzled about how it was coffee-flavored as it didn’t taste or look like it in any way, but after getting a few spoons, we discovered that it had coffee jelly inside it, being embraced by the milk snow. Just like how Mica felt about her mango bingsu and how I felt about my choco bingsu, we both loved it. Everyone in the café got their own free bowl of coffee bingsu and I think that it’s a good way to form a relationship with your customers, regular and newcomers alike.

I consider the dessert part as the highlight of my first visit to Café Seolhwa. They lived up to their name, which means “snow” or “snowflakes” in Korean. Mica and I spent the hours well, catching up with each other and enjoying the food. We selected our next food destination: the Singaporean restaurant, Toast Box. I’m stoked. As they always say, good food + good company = good time.

PHP 180 – Bingsu (single)
PHP 240 – Bulgogi Croissant with Potato Salad side