Flying Pan Blue
This is one place I wish you wouldn't go for brunch.
Not because the food is bad -- it's delicious, and is probably the freshest food in all of Itaewon. But because Flying Pan Blue, a chic-yet-cozy restaurant in Itaewon, is already so popular that it usually takes a half-hour or longer to get a seat on weekends.
This Western-style eatery, located near the Hamilton Hotel, is tucked down a short flight of stairs in a basement room in the heart of Itaewon. Unless you arrive when the doors open, you'll have to put your name and cell phone on the waiting list, but the staff will call you when a table opens up.
The interior is an urban, funky version of Shabby Chic with a touch of kitsch -- fresh flowers, pillows, clusters of ornate picture frames on mostly bare walls, and, in homage to the restaurant's name, a bare light bulb adorned with a pair of wings. My boyfriend describes the place as "frilly" and says it "looks like grandma's living room." It's admittedly feminine -- this makes a great spot for a ladies-only book club meeting, or a girls' night out -- but you'll find plenty of guys eating there, too.
Once you get a table and place your order, the food is served fairly quickly. Try starting with the Canadian maple latte or the cinnamon hot chocolate (both 6,000 won). There's also tea, fruit juices, beer and wine, and a mystery drink called "wine-ade."
Judging from a quick survey of the tabletops, the most popular dishes are the pancakes and French toast. There are combinations of banana and walnut with ricotta, pear and cinnamon with ice cream, caramelized fig-walnut-and-ricotta, and the "Chocolate Ecstasy," smothered with chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream (all 14,000 won).
If you're not in the mood for breakfast, try a Dijon beef, grilled veggie or chicken avocado sandwich, served on homemade bread (10,000-11,000 won). Or one of the salads -- the Brie, pear and crispy bread salad, topped with orange dressing and dried cherry tomatoes (14,000 won), is a good choice.
Or better yet, go down the street to McDonald's. You won't have to wait long there, and you won't be taking up my spot in line at Flying Pan Blue.
E-mail Ashley Rowland at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Flying Pan Blue
Location: Itaewon, South Korea. From Itaewon Station, take Exit 2. Walk down the alley to the right of the Hard Rock Café. Flying Pan Blue is on the right, down a short set of stairs.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays
Prices: Most entrees cost between 11,000 and 16,000 won
Specialties: The all-day brunch menu, which includes pancakes, omelets, French toast, and eggs benedict, and the "Itaewon Breakfast" of bacon, fried eggs, grilled tomato, spinach and hummus. There are also soups, salads, sandwiches and an after-5 p.m. menu that includes pastas and dessert.
English menu: Yes
Clientele: Everyone - Koreans, English teachers, and U.S. military types
Location: From Itaewon Station, take Exit 2. Walk down the alley to the right of the Hard Rock Café. Flying Pan Blue is on the right, down a short set of stairs.
Web site: None
Speak English: Yes