My visit to CacaoBoom was a bit of an adventure, an adventure that took place mostly underground. Up until this point of my trip I had gone everywhere by foot. Today I decided to venture away from the centre and find some hot chocolates. I had a list with several options all in completely different directions. The thing about lists and recommendations is that on paper they all look the same. The reality is that you won’t know whether you chose right or wrong until you get there, sit down and have the hot chocolate. Until then they are all equally appealing, well at least they were in this case.
So I bought my metro card and thought, well, I can visit both of them (despite the fact that they were on opposite sides of the city). No problem. I jumped on the metro, started going towards one which meant taking two different subways. Halfway through that trip I realised that I wouldn’t have time for both and needed to revaluate my choice. I got off the subway…somewhere under Seoul, and starred at the two names. Cacao Boom, the one that I currently wasn’t on my way to visit won this silent debate. So I jumped back on the subway, but back in the other direction, changed subways a couple of times and finally found myself back up at sea level at Hongik University subway station.
Using my trusty tourist map (going old school) I dove in. Right here, then left, then right and what on the map just looked like a random street in a random neighbourhood ended up being a fantastic university area filled with little shops and, most importantly, Cacao Boom.
So was Cacao Boom the better choice out of the two I had written down? I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t have been because Cacao Boom has a fantastic hot chocolate. I had the whole place to myself today. Behind the counter you get a glimpse into their kitchen were all the magic happens…not today though, it was just as quiet as the café. I ordered a strong hot chocolate (you have a choice of mild, original or strong), selected a few of their truffles and sat down. I chose a seat next to the chocolate fountain in one corner because really, why not have a chocolate fountain. My view was of a tin robot with a bright yellow heart protecting the chocolate fountain because, again, why not have protective tin robots in a chocolate shop.
Owner Go Young-joo studied Belgian style chocolate making in Belgium and opened up this shop in 2006. You can taste that Belgian influence in the chocolates because despite being in South Korea, the flavour profiles are very European. I had heard that they had a truffle infused with Moonbaesool, a traditional Korea alcohol that tastes like wild pear but that wasn’t available today. I wanted to ask the lady working there more information but “hot chocolate” was the extent of her English and please and thank you the extent of my Korean. The website didn’t offer much else because not only is in all in Korean but Google translate wasn’t able to translate any of it.
So I know remarkably little about a place I liked so much. I know they also offer something that I think is called Cacao Bob, a hot chocolate that comes with granola. I think they might be bean to bar but I’m not sure. I couldn’t recognise the chocolate they used in their hot chocolate. I do know that the owner/chocolatier has quite impressive training in chocolate including chocolate making and tasting. Whatever their story, the hot chocolate is beautiful and definitely worth the detour.
Verdict: Each hot chocolate is served with a little dark golden leaf as well as a tiny shaker filled with cinnamon. You can also have your hot chocolate with alcohol (we are, after all, in a student neighbourhood). They offer chocolate tastings and short courses Cacao Boom, 337-16 Seogyodong Mapogu Seoul, Korea