As Marissa, Caroline and I wandered through the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, we were drawn down a side street by a sparkling wall of spoons, knives and forks. The display was on the side of a Hanok (a traditional Korean house) and the sign read “Books Cooks.” I have what I consider to be a healthy obsession with cookbooks, so I was keen to pop inside.
Books Cooks turned out to be an exceptionally lovely cafe. The decor was a mishmash of modern lighting fixtures, fancy china teacup displays, cozy corner tables nestled between packed bookshelves under an partially open roof. It was a very ‘Shannon-y” place indeed.
We were planning just to sneak a peek, but once we were inside we decided it was necessary to stay for a tea. Marissa and I each ordered a cup of Korean ginger tea that had been steeped overnight. It was sweet and spicy with the perfect amount of ginger to give you that wonderful burning feeling in the back of your throat. An excellent cup of tea for when you are either sick or healthy! In short, it was on point.
Once I started sipping I couldn’t stop and was sad at how quickly my tea disappeared. It was one of the best cups of tea I have ever had – seriously! I was reluctant to leave such delicious tea behind so I asked the owner if she had any for sale. She did!
Unlike a loose leaf or bag tea, the ginger tea is a thick syrup that looks and smells a bit like molasses. It was a bit expensive at 18,000 wan but the owner Victoria, assured me that the small jar would make quite a few cups of tea. To prepare the tea, just add a few spoons of the syrup to a cup of boiling water, stir and voila! (Inside scoop: I am sipping on a cup as I write this post from my little apartment this Saturday morning. Yum!)
Victoria’s English was quite good so we ended up chatting for while about her cafe. I told her that Books Cooks reminded me of home and I was sad that she didn’t have a cafe in Daegu where I currently live. Victoria told me that she used to teach foreigners how to cook and showed me a cookbook she helped to write called “Let’s Plunge into Korea Cuisine.” The recipes are written in both English and Korean (great for practicing Hangul!), and it is full of beautiful pictures for every recipe.
As a chef wannabe, my next question was, “when can I take a cooking course!?” Victoria explained that she doesn’t usually teach cooking classes anymore but sometimes will on special request. This was very exciting news! She said that I should have at least four people in the class and the price would depend on what we wanted to cook. She even offered to have someone who speaks fluent English help her teach the course if we wanted, but personally I think her English is fantastic. Victoria gave me her business card and added her personal email in pen. I promised to return for more tea and cooking lessons ASAP.
As you may have guessed, I also bought her cookbook and some mini lemon cakes to go (they were delightful).
Books Cooks also runs a variety of special events. After travelling to Cuba, Victoria hosts a regular Cuban night where she serves Cuban food. They also have an afternoon tea, which I plan to take my mom to in September when she visits (it’s kind of our thing). If you can read Korean, you can find more information on the Books Cooks website.
I cannot wait to return to Cooks Books. I felt so at home there and my heart was warm and fuzzy.
Here are a few more pictures of Books Cooks. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.