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Garosugil in Sinsa-dong

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Art & Culture,Food & Drink,Seoul,Shopping, 23 Comments

Garosugil in Sinsa-dong



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Garosugil in Sinsa-dong is a part of southern Seoul that’s become popular for its trendy boutiques, cafés, restaurants and people watching. Although it’s arguably lost much of its charm as it’s become overrun with traffic, chain stores and more photographers per square meter than anywhere else in Seoul, it remains a destination for visitors and locals alike.

The street officially known as Dosan-daero buk 5-gil (도산대로 북 5길), has become a trendy place for 7,000-won lattés and foreign cuisine. While I tend to find the habit among some to equate parts of Seoul or Korea as the “fill-in-the-blank” of Europe or America, there does seem to be an affinity for faux-French.


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A quick survey of area business’s revealed: “A Priori Thé: Maison du Chocolat & Thé“, “Fleur and Goûté” and “Les Chiots: Maison de Qualite, Fondre en 2003.” Never mind the spelling errors, the latter is a cute pet store in front of which I saw two well-coiffed Bouvier des Flanders a couple of Sunday mornings ago. How fitting.

Garosugil means “tree-lined street”, and the half-kilometer promenade has lots more charm than the affluent neighborhoods of Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong (청담동)  immediately to the east. But like much of southern Seoul’s Gangnam-gu district, rents are high. As such, most of the restaurants, cafés and stores in Garosugil in Sinsa-dong are cozy. Boutiques like 9 Owls  appear to mix new and gently-used fashion at affordable prices.

From Garosugil in Sinsa-dong

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If you’re prone to claustrophobia, make way to the new Italian restaurant Nonna. The vast, mood-lit dining floor feels nothing like grandma’s house (“nonna” means grandmother in Italian). But what she does provide is your best hope for an open table and some of Seoul’s best Italian food. Most entrées run 18,000-30,000 won. Since specialty coffee costs a silly 8,000 won, I paid 1,000 more for the tasty house red wine. If you’re not in the mood for the Italian granny, Garosugil also has an English one. The restaurant/wine bar Grandmother features a Persian-ish interior serving pan-Asian vittles. But for more cheaper fare, check out Buccella for yummy sandwiches or Oriental Spoon‘s usually tasty pan-Asian dishes.

From Garosugil in Sinsa-dong

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Although I don’t mind eating alone, it’s rare to see Koreans dining solo. And on a romantic walking street like Garosugil in Sinsa-dong, be it a lunch meeting or dinner date, it feels weird to not be in another’s company. For example, a personal favorite: Cork for Turtle; Mug for Rabbit. The first floor and sunken B1 is a spare but cozy café while the upstairs is an intimate restaurant encouraging wine and champagne consumption. If you were alone, you’d miss the chance to ponder the peculiar name together, or discuss Korean restaurants’ penchant for empty wine bottles as décor.

From Garosugil in Sinsa-dong

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Example 2: On an early autumn evening, a friend and I happened upon Crazy Horse , a lower-level, American Indian-themed bar with an entrance so narrow you have to shimmy sideways to get in. Had I gone by myself, who would have received my bemused expression when the front man of the band “The Earls”, called out his own “En-core! En-core!” after finishing the band’s live set?

From Garosugil in Sinsa-dong

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As one of Seoul’s “It” neighborhoods, afternoons and evenings in Garosugil in Sinsa-dong can feel a bit overrun with fashionable couples and amateur photographers. But if you have a chance, head on over on a morning this week or next. Good luck finding anything but Starbucks open before 11 am, but you can enjoy the gorgeous golden ginkgo trees for which the street is named, with blankets provided to ease the autumn chill. Afterwards, check out the latest offerings at Gallery Yeh (예화랑) , and take the short (although a bit perilous) walk to the Jamwon section of the vast Hangang river Park (한강 공원) .

From Garosugil in Sinsa-dong

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Overall, Garosugil in Sinsa-dong is a slice of Seoul that’s been loved a bit too much, in my opinion. As quaint cafés are going the way of the enormous Coffeesmith, one can see what’s to come as the neighborhood’s popularity and shoddy zoning laws collide. But for now, Garosugil in Sinsa-dong is a change of pace from much of Seoul that remains far more Korean than European..
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23 Comments

9 December 2008 17:09

dong ho

very beautiful! is there a place in korea that’s not even close to being beautiful?

18 December 2008 00:14

This Time in Seoul

I’ve been visiting my family here for a couples of months now and am looking forward to heading back to Seoul. Garosugil is one of my favorite streets in Seoul but more than this, it’s the sides streets of Garosugil that are taking more of my money and interest. There are a lot of hidden gems that I’ve discovered, more cafes, more restaurants, etc. Lovely.
Thanks for featuring this chic section of Seoul. I’ve done a lot of photographing and posting of my own about this area on my own site.

Hope that we can meet up for coffee when I get back in February.

Ciao!

Felicia, This Time in Seoul
http://www.www.nearandfar.wordpress.com
http://www.thistimenow.wordpress.com

19 December 2008 01:31

Matt Kelley

Hi again, Dong Ho,
Well… of course I try to focus on the more beautiful and interesting places in Korea. But unfortunately, Korea has suffered much in the last 50 years after decades of foreign occupation and civil war. Thankfully, I think Korea’s best years are to come. Let’s hope there’s a good balance of preserving the historic and natural sites and effective planning for the future!

Best,
Matt

19 December 2008 01:34

Matt Kelley

Hi Felicia,

Glad to see you’re coming back to Korea! I wasn’t sure you would be back so soon. I love your photos and hope visitors to DiscoveringKorea.com will check them out. And yes, let’s definitely have coffee in Garosu-gil, Hongdae, Samcheong-dong or somewhere else… I’m sure you know of some great places that I’ve yet to visit.

Happy Holidays,
Matt

20 March 2010 17:11

Gratitude « C'era una volta

[...] Garosu-gil, Samcheong-dong, and all of [...]

2 April 2010 15:36

Tae

Thank you so much for sharing the good in formation. Very nice place.

Last year on March, I went to Seoul and stayed at Riviara hotel. It’s not far from here. Why I missed this place?

2 August 2010 17:49

Seoul Streets: Samcheong-dong (삼청동) & Garosu-gil (가로수길)

[...] next morning I went out with a friend to Garosu-gil (가로수길) where we had a sumptuous brunch at a cosy French restaurant (allegedly the chef [...]

12 September 2010 20:54

Discovering Korea – ALL DESTINATIONS

[...] Songsanri Tombs [December 19, 2008] Jeonju’s Hanok Village (Part 1) [November 19, 2008] Garosugil: Sinsa’s Tree-Lined Street [November 17, [...]

15 October 2010 19:15

Chris

The most overrated place in Seoul. Not that special at all.

It’s just a street with a bunch of coffee shops and clothes store for women. The coffee shops aren’t special and neither is the food that special either. I was expecting so much when I first went, and every time I go I still wonder what the big fuss is about.

October 17 2010 19:48 pm

Matt

Hi Chris,

I think it's getting worse with time, though there are a few spots that I still like. The narrow art/design/architecture book store has a nice selection and I had a memorable date at "Cork for Turtle" a couple of years back. Then again, I can't remember the meal. Anyhow, in a few days the ginkgo trees will line both sides of the street in gold, and that makes for an attractive setting anytime before noon, when the neighborhood wakes up.

Best, Matt

November 15 2013 02:15 am

Woong Lee

i agree.. what's so special about it?
Also food is terrible.. there are not many good places to eat here..

27 October 2010 20:10

Charles Russell

Hi Matt,

Just wanted to say that a friend of mine recommended that I check out Garosugil with my camera and see what shots I could get from it. Searching on Google about it led me to your blog. I have been in Korea a number of years and have built up a nice portfolio of images of the peninsula. I will be looking forward to getting some images from Garosugil to add to the growing collection. If you have time to visit my website, I would appreciate your thoughts on my work.

Charles

October 30 2010 07:49 am

Matt

Hi Charles,

Thanks for your note. Great photos on your site! I especially liked the "Aged but not forgotten" and "Palace Corridor" shots. I've been shooting with DSLR and 4/3 cameras for the past 3 years or so and am really enjoying it as a new hobby. It looks to me like you've turned it into a career.

RE: Garosugil, now is definitely the time to visit with the foliage turning gold. As others have mentioned, I think the area has lost some of its charm, but there are still good opportunities for shots.

Best, Matt

27 April 2011 21:48

a saturday brunch

[...] Sinsa-neighborhood, called Le Brunchic.  It’s nestled up a little side street from 가로수길 (Garosugil – the main street), which we absolutely fell in love with.  The clothing and jewelry shops were abundant and [...]

15 May 2011 14:17

EpicuriousTravels

Wonderful posts and photos! I’ve visited Garosugil once and the dining scene is fantastic. I can’t wait to go back this fall when the leaves change color. :)

26 August 2011 18:33

Nina Kim

Hello,

I’m running a cloth shop ‘Via Albero’ at Garosu-gil.
I worked for Korean celebrities as a stylist.

Recently Garosu-gil is the most hip place in Seoul.
Come and visit Garosu-gil and ‘Via Albero’.

You won’t regret!

Thanks,
Nina

19 September 2011 19:25

Garosugil Pt. 1: Gangnam Fashion Festival | lovestylefree.com

[...] How to get there: Take Line 3 of the subway to Apgujeong Station. Take Exit 5 and walk straight. Once you see Kraze Burger, turn left and that’s already Garosugil. It takes about 10-15 minutes.  (Discover Korea helpful LINK.) [...]

3 November 2011 03:57

{travel & eat} 2 Nights in Seoul « Meow and Forever

[...] popular area is Garosugil in the Sinsadong neighborhood of Seoul, which is a tree-lined street with shops and cafes. [...]

15 November 2011 09:45

Richard Min, Co-founder of SeoulSpace | AsianTalks.com

[...] still tap into the vibe and the pulse of the city. There’s a new street that’s trendy, called Garosu-gil, in the Sinsa area, and they’ve got a whole strip of cafes, little restaurants, where you can [...]

3 April 2012 23:53

Astrid

great post! I will definitely explore this stylish area and submit the story to some travel magazines…

28 September 2012 04:39

City Insider: Seoul, South Korea – Johnny Jet

[...] Garusugil: Tree Lined Street [...]

9 August 2013 01:14

I went to Garosugil to get a bag – Real Life Digital Native

[...] I didn’t know that we were headed to the place called Garosugil, and it was a trendy and relatively expensive neighborhood. You can read all about it here. [...]

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