Suji’s brunch is good for the atmosphere
SEOUL — I walked past Suji’s neon yellow awning on my way to Yongsan Garrison nearly every day for five months, thinking it was another Itaewon bar or tailor’s shop.
When a friend took me there for tea one afternoon, it was more like a European café than a restaurant in one of Asia’s largest cities. With soft jazz playing in the background, black-and-white photographs of New York City on the walls and windows opened wide, Suji’s seemed a world away from the bustle below in the Itaewon area of Seoul.
I recently went there again with friends for the Sunday brunch, the meal for which Suji’s is best known. The menu consisted of standard American breakfast fare: omelets, French toast, pancakes, even steak and eggs.
I opted for the smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, capers and onions. Then I looked at the price tag: 16,000 won, or roughly $17.50.
A $17 bagel?
“They’re trying to emulate the real New York prices,” one of my friends said. What the heck — I love smoke salmon, so I decided to order it anyway. What I got wasn’t worth the money: An untoasted bagel sandwich that tasted like it came straight from the Yongsan Garrison commissary. No offense to the commissary, but I could have paid $5 for the ingredients there and made the same breakfast at home. My coffee was lukewarm and burnt, but at least my meal came with a decent side salad and spicy potatoes.
My friends had more luck with their food. Both ordered French toast with blueberries, which came with scrambled eggs and sausage patties, and both of them cleaned their plates. One of my friends gave the restaurant a five out of five imaginary stars, and both said they would eat there again.
Would I go back? Yes. But I know the restaurant’s charm is its atmosphere, not the food.
And I’d skip the overpriced bagels and get a real meal.
E-mail Ashley Rowland at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suji’s Restaurant and Bar Seoul
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 9 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Prices: Most Sunday brunch items range from 14,000 to 20,000 won, or about $15 to $22. Coffee and tea cost between 4,000-6,000 won, or $4.30 to $6.50.
Specialities: Western-style breakfast foods for Sunday brunch
English menu: Yes
Dress: Upscale casual
Clientele: Sophisticated South Koreans and expats
Location: On the corner of the main street in Itaewon. From Yongsan Garrison, walk past Noksapyeong station toward Itaewon. Suji’s is on the right corner, within sight of the “Welcome to Itaewon” sign over the street.
Web site: None
Telephone number: not available
Speak English: Yes