The American brunch is a part of Americana that can rarely be duplicated overseas. It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but you get a piece of cantaloupe at the end. It’s a good meal! Ahh Jacques. Simpsons fans please line up. Inspired by the loveliest and most social blogger on the Internet, Lacrymamosa, you can read her review here, we decided to hold our breath amidst the drying vomit and urine to venture out to find the Honey Bowl. Needless to say, we were not disappointed.
How to get there: By subway head for Sangsu station (Line 2 and Line 6). Depart from exit 1 and walk straight for about 75-100 meters. Once you reach the first intersection, make a right. You will see a large eyewear gallery on your left. Head to that street and it’s the second building on your left.
First, some sage advice: Get to the restaurant early! My wife and I left around 9:30am and when we arrived, there were already people sitting in the restaurant, waiting for it to open at 10:00am. By 10:35am, they were informing customers it would be at least a twenty minute wait.
Atmosphere: This is an ideal spot to eat brunch when the weather is nice. They have a large open window and a patio for enjoying your orange juice, tea and pancakes. We lucked out with a nice breeze and sunshine. The concept is simple, yet contemporary. There is nothing flashy about the Honey Bowl, and avoids all pretentiousness that is often associated with brunch restaurants. It feels as though you’ve walked into an old 1950’s diner, minus the salty, 60-year-old waitress with the half-smoked Marboro hanging off her lips. Instead, we had servers in cute, refreshing yellow uniforms to match the interior of the restaurant. The interior is yellow. Very yellow. I felt as though I was eating inside of a beehive. That said, it was refreshing and in some cases, almost calming. The plates and cups were simple, solid colors, yet the plating of the food was carefully arranged.
Service: The service was fine. The server was polite, and courteous. She tried to speak English, and we tried to speak Korean, and somewhere in the middle our communication made sense. A small piece of advice: I would avoid this place if you are in a hurry. It took about 30 minutes for our food to arrive. Now, in fairness, it was a packed house, with a queue lining up outside, and as they say, “greatness takes time”. However, this is not a place you can pop in, grab a quick bite and head back to work. You need to sit, relax and enjoy the ambience of the warm Autumn morning, while slowly sipping your Earl Grey tea.
Food and Drink: I ordered the eggs Benedict, and orange juice. My wife ordered caramel nutty pancakes, a side of potato wedges, an orange juice and a Darjeeling tea.
Eggs Benedict: Normally, I would be skeptical about eggs Benedict abroad, but after reading Lacrymamosa’s review, I felt a little more at ease. The secret of the eggs Benedict is the Hollandaise sauce, a tricky bitch to make. The biggest mistake is making Hollandaise sauce which is too runny. If prepared poorly, it’s like a soup, running off the egg onto your plate, which makes a mess. However, props to the chef, the Hollandaise sauce was thick enough, and not too salty to take away the flavor from the poached eggs. The bacon was crispy, but not burned and the muffin was soft and fluffy. I was skeptical about the salad; normally I would shy away from salad at breakfast, but it was actually a nice complement to the eggs Benedict. The dressing was a simple vinaigrette, drizzled nicely on the salad, not drowning the veggies. The lettuce was crisp and the mushrooms were fresh. The tomatoes? Fuck the tomatoes.
The Caramel Nutty Pancakes:
If you’ve ever had a pancake that sits in your stomach like a rock all day, you need to switch restaurants. Unless you are a glutton, looking to conquer some type of Guinness Book of World Records accomplishment, all you need is two or three good pancakes for breakfast. The pancakes were light, moist and didn’t break apart on contact. The caramel syrup was portioned properly, but the almonds were overwhelming. My wife ended up scrapping some of them off and leaving them on the side of the plate. The potatoes were well seasoned and not burned. A great sweet and salty combination to start the day.
Do you ever notice that sometimes when you go to a restaurant that serves breakfast, most of the time they serve you a glass of juice intended for a toddler? Not the case at the Honey Bowl. The juice was served in actual glass intended for an adult. They did put ice cubes in the orange juice, which is a big faux pas for some people. However, since I don’t like my orange juice being too acidic, the ice diluted some of the acid and made for a refreshing drink. The juice was 4000KRW, and I feel as though I got my money’s worth.
Value: The eggs Benedict was 13500KRW, the caramel nutty pancakes rolled in at 8000KRW, the potatoes were a surprisingly cheap 1500KRW and two orange juices cost 8000KRW. In general, for a brunch that is probably as close to home as you are going to find, it was good value. There is something calming and relaxing about the atmosphere which makes you feel as though time has curled up for a morning nap, and I found that this unique atmosphere added to the value. The quality of the ingredients, the atmosphere of the restaurant, and finally the big boy orange juices, make the Honey Bowl a solid breakfast option in Hongdae.
Who should go to the Honey Bowl: Missing brunch from the old country? Got a hankering for some nice, fluffy pancakes after a night of drinking? HB serves breakfast all day!
Who should avoid the Honey Bowl: Stretched thin for time? You might want to pursue other options or get to the restaurant really, really early.