Saturday, January 17, 2009

Peace of Mind Cafe in Chuncheon, South Korea

Late this afternoon Julianne and I were hungry so we decided to go out for an early dinner. We walked over to our favorite dakgalbi restaurant but the staff were all eating dinner before the dinner rush began . . . so we decided to walk over to another of our favorite places to eat in Chuncheon--a place called "Peace of Mind Cafe."

On the way there I snapped a few pics. I think scooters with modifications are awesome.

I noticed these ice-'stalagmites' rising up from the brick wall here . . .

Crossing over the small river/stream that runs through a good portion of the area we live in I got Julianne to pose next to a bridge guardian statue. Julianne decided to stick her hand in the tiger's mouth . . .

Below the bridge there is a string of stones that people can use to cross the stream. I think it's a bit nutty to do this when the stones are covered with snow and ice but other people think nothing of it.

I ALMOST got a shot of the person on the left losing their balance and her friend reaching out to grab her . . .

I really like this picture of Julianne. It's a real moment of her feeling a little tired and very hungry . . . hopefully she won't kill me for posting it . . .

. . . she does seem to have some skill with a knife though . . . maybe I shouldn't have posted the pic . . . lol.

Thanksgiving Dinner, October 2008

I like this pic with a little bit of the late afternoon sun and the apartment building's reflection on the water.

It was 'warmer' yesterday and today so some of the ice that was covering the stream has disappeared. But a few days ago there was even more.

When we saw these kids playing by the stream I said to Julianne, "My mother would have killed my sister and I if she ever caught us playing next to a stream during the winter." To which Julianne replied, "I would never have been caught because I would never have been allowed to get that close without her knowing." It's amazing how different cultures can be in what children can and can't do . . .

Finally, we arrived at the Peace of Mind Cafe.

The interior is this fantastic eclectic atmosphere of books, calligraphy, art, antiques and anything and everything you can imagine.

Julianne love's this gramophone.

The cafe is also a combination of cafe, bakery, and restaurant.

The gentleman who owns (?) and runs the cafe/bakery/restaurant speaks fluent English and is a very polite, intelligent, and friendly personality. He offers excellent service and takes very good care of the people who visit the cafe.

Today was my second visit. I still haven't come to the cafe just to read a book, drink some tea, and have something from the bakery . . . but I will soon. There are comfortable couches and chairs to sit in and a large selection of books.

There is always music playing in the cafe. A wide range of different kinds of music is played at a volume that is not too loud or too soft. I have yet to be there when I didn't like the music being played--I'm very fussy about what I listen to when I'm relaxing and eating dinner, so it really impresses me that the music selections are consistently tasteful.

I walked around taking pictures while waiting for our food to be prepared. The menu offers a good selection of western style food. There are also set menu options. Julianne and I chose the pasta set which offers a selection of breads, a delicious beef soup, a fantastic salad, your choice of excellent tea, four or five options on what kind of pasta you want (we chose the pasta with creamy fettuccine-style sauce), and a plate of fresh fruit for dessert.

One really nice thing about the cafe that I didn't get a picture of is that there are dividers between the tables so you can have privacy yet not feel like you're sitting in an isolation booth. There are times when Julianne and I don't care for the open communal restaurant culture of Korea because we are often stared at by curious Koreans--the Peace of Mind Cafe offers a sense of open space yet at the same time gives each table it's own privacy. Not an easy thing to do in Korea, I think.

You also get two gi-normous bread sticks baked fresh from the cafe's ovens as a part of the appetizers offered with the set menu.

As I said before, but it's worth mentioning again, the soup is very very good.

The salad has fresh good quality vegetables mixed in with a nice dressing.

As part of the set menu you get a platter with six (I think) different kinds of breads. I think this is to showcase what the bakery has to offer in the hopes that you buy some breads to take home with you. While I've never been a big fan of a lot of different kinds of breads I like some of the choices offered.

The pasta is fantastic. Unlike other western style food restaurants in Korea, the Peace of Mind Cafe puts good quality vegetables in its dishes. The broccoli, mushrooms, and other things in the pasta were very good. The size, quantity, and taste of each of the different vegetables was quite good--and, for example, puts the Olive Garden's menu to shame in terms of its salad buffet and dinner entrees.

After finishing the main course I got up and took a few more pics. I haven't seen one of these old projectors since I was in elementary school . . . I remember being taught how to load one of these projectors with the old reel film . . . the cafe is full of these kinds of antiques and nostalgic memorabilia.

Dessert is fresh fruit (seasonal) on a platter. Very healthy, and the quality was also good.

And yes, again, I got up after eating some fruit and walked around taking more pics.

The gentleman who owns (?) and manages the cafe gave me permission to take pictures of the kitchen and even encouraged me to go into the back and take a look around.

The kitchen is very clean and well organized. Again, I was impressed.

These huge mixers are very cool . . . the biggest was at least 4 feet tall.

Back at the table with Julianne we chatted again with the gentleman (I need to write down his name--I'm terrible at remembering people's names). In the cafe each table has a glass covered top and underneath are different 'mini-exhibits' of books, or art objects, or as in this picture (below) a collection of different items that seemingly have no theme.

When I asked the gentleman about this display he told me that, for example, the watches were all from when he was a student in school. Everything in this case was something he had used and had been a part of his life. He told us that he doesn't like to throw away things, and that too many things today are disposable. I really like his general outlook on life, and think he's one of most interesting Korean people I've met during my 4 years in Korea.

Julianne pointed out this Zenith radio . . . wow.

I toured around the last part of the cafe I hadn't taken a look at (the cafe is enormous) . . .

More interesting antiques . . .

I thought this insanely old slide show projector was very cool . . . and wonder if there is a personal history behind it for the gentleman who runs the cafe . . .

We paid our bill (50 000won for two excellent set menu meals, fully worth the cost considering the quality and serving sizes) and said our goodbyes to the gentleman.

Outside I noticed the patio deck with tables and chairs and thought that it must be a nice place to sit in the evenings with a drink and something to eat. There is a clear view of the small river/stream that is only about 40 meters away from the patio. Julianne and I will definitely be visiting the cafe during the spring and summer.

So if you're in the Chuncheon area, whether it's as a visitor or expat living and teaching here, and you're looking for a restaurant/cafe where you can find excellent quality western style food for reasonable prices in a fantastic eclectic and yet very cozy and relaxing atmosphere I'd recommend you try the Peace of Mind Cafe.

15 comments:

Alex said...

Amazing photos, I feel like I could spend all day there just exploring the place. I'm going to try to check it out this week, thanks for the recommendation!

Jason said...

Thank you. Enjoy . . . and if you feel like it say that you learned about the place from this blog--the gentleman was interested in taking a look at my blog when I told him the pics were for it.

J

AM said...

Hi- I found your blog looking for other expats in the Seoul area. We've been here about a month. That cafe looks GREAT. My husband and I would love it! Can you tell me what subway stop it would be near? We live near the Ichon station (near Gate 17 if you are familiar with the Yongsan Army base).

Jason said...

Hello AM and welcome to Korea,

Unfortunately the Peace of Mind Cafe is in Gangwon province. It takes about 2 hours by train, 90 mintues by bus, to get to Chuncheon from Seoul. I don't think there is another location in Seoul . . . I'll ask the owner the next time I'm there. I hope you find something similar there that you like.

If I might offer a suggestion . . . I'd recommend picking up a copy of,

Atlas of Korea
Editors: Young-Han Park. Sung Ji Mun Hwa Co., Ltd
W30 000

It's a little expensive but worth the money if you want to have a travel resource that is in English with pretty good local/regional maps of every part of Korea, and provincial/national maps of Korea.

Google Earth also seems to be getting better info on locations and place names in Korea. It also helps to have a sense of where you are in the country in relation to other places here. It took me two years to even get a sense of the provinces in the country . . . lol, yikes.

For learning about Korean history and culture I'd recommend,

What’s so good about Korea, Maarten?
Maarten Meijer. Hyeonamsa Publishing, 2005.
W12 000

It's an easy read without a bizillion Korean King's names and other historical figures who all share the surname "Kim" or "Lee" or "Park" . . . it has the widest range of topics on anything and everything you would want to know about Korea when you first arrive here.

If you're trying to learn the language this book is probably the most recommended by expats,

Survival Korean: The Korean study guide written by the host of Arirang’s TV’s “Let’s Speak Korean.”
Revere, Stephen.
W21 500

I've been meaning to do a post about the books I have in my personal library for teaching resources, and also about Korean culture, history, and language . . . I'll try to do that in the next few weeks as I finish teaching a winter session teacher training camp Tuesday.

I added your blog to my list of blogs. Your children are very cute and look like they're having fun so far.

Please email me if you have any questions, or leave a comment/question here.

Take care,
Jason

Alex said...

Hi Jason,

Could you post some general directions to the Cafe? I'm newish to Chuncheon but I know the basic areas and my friend Michael and I are pretty good at exploring - I showed him this post and we agreed that it's a must-find!

Feel free to email me if that's easier - alexntaylor @ gmail.com

Thanks!

Jason said...

Walking from Chuncheon National University of Education behind you and on the left, walk up to the first MAJOR intersection and turn right. The road spits into two just before a bridge, with one street going to the right and curving, and the other street going straight and to the left with a bridge that must be crossed.

BEFORE the bridge there are apartment buildings on the right side of the street. Walk down the parking lot laneway that runs parallel to the river about 500 meters or so, and look for Peace of Mind Cafe on the left.

I hope this helps.
J

Jason said...

BEFORE the bridge there are apartment buildings on the right side of the street. Walk down the parking lot laneway that runs parallel to the river about 500 meters or so, and look for Peace of Mind Cafe on the left.

CRAP! The apartment buildings before the bridge are on the LEFT side of the street.

Sorry,
J

Alex said...

Much appreciated - I think we're going to try and find it this weekend. I'll definitely tell them that I found out about them here :) Thanks!

Alex said...

Jason, a couple friends and I went last night and it was AMAZING. I can see myself spending ridiculous amounts of money on all the tea and bread they sell there to take home, in addition to the amazing food we had for dinner.

I mentioned that I'd read about it on your blog, and before I mentioned the name he said "ahh yes, kimchi icecream?" hahah :)

I've been sending this post to just about everyone I know in Korea to convince them to come with me next time :)

Thanks muchly!

Jason said...

Hi,

Glad you liked it, and thanks for passing on the info and link to people.

I often wonder who in Chuncheon knows about my blog. It sounds like a few people do--cool.

Maybe I'll see you at the cafe some time.

J

Anonymous said...

Very Nice Blog! Greetings from Finland!

Anonymous said...

Great blog. You have such an interesting voice and style.

Can you tell me how much (Canadian) you and Julianne spent for your meal in that restaurant?

Jason said...

If memory serves our bill was 50,000won, so add about 45.00Cdn ....

But if you've been in Korea for a while the price won't matter--the quality of the food and atmosphere are worth a lot more.

Anonymous said...

Just trying to get some idea of costs there. What a wonderful evening you had. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

From Cowtown.

anadoptedangle said...

That's amazing he let you explore the kitchen and was so lenient with taking pictures! I'd love to visit sometime. Is it possible you could provide directions from the bus station in Chuncheon? Sorry for any hassle.

Thank you so much for visiting and providing these details!