Any One Piece fan worth their salt knows about the cafe located in the Hongdae area of Seoul, South Korea. My first weekend I returned to Korea I sought it out and went to it. I mean as a die hard fan, how could I not?
However, when I first went I thought it was nothing more than a pop-up cafe. After all, Korea is all about fads and popularity so things come and go quiet frequently. The other day I had an iching to go. So I grabbed my adventure bag and went to Hongdae. Lo and behold it was still there. Only this it seems to be having some sort of theme this time around.
I don’t know if it was for One Piece day, the 21st anniversary, or just because, but the theme this time around seems to be ASL. In this case, ASL stands for Ace, Sabo, and Luffy. NOT Age, Sex, and Location like back in the AOL/AIM messenger days. All the “cafe” themed decorations disappeared and instead replaced by ASL. Cutout of the three as adults, and even window art from their kid days.
For those who don’t follow One Piece, Ace, Sabo, and Luffy are brothers, not by blood, but by choice. They swore to each other in a small ceremony by sharing and drinking sake with each other. I don’t know much about Japanese culture to explain or fully understand the significance of it. The best I can come up with on the top of my head is when in movies people cut their hands and hold them together to be blood brothers. Ugh, I couldn’t even explain that right.
Regardless, all the decorations were for ASL. The menu even had many themed food options. They all looked so delicious. I wanted to try them all. I really should have taken a picture of the menu. Oh well, no regrets!
I decided on a meat dish. Don’t get me wrong, the desserts and parfaits looked delicious. I would have gotten them in a heart beat. I just didn’t eat breakfast. Since it would have been my first meal of the day, I wanted something a little more substantial.
Normally, I don’t like to complain about food, especially from a themed cafe. Normally you go there for the theme itself and not the food. However, this was one of the first times I regret eating.
First the food tasted like it was microwaved. I can give that a pass. It is a cafe, so it is set up for drinks and not food. I don’t recall ever seeing a kitchen or even a kitchenette. Second, the meat wasn’t good. Each brother had its own meat. Ace’s tasted like raw teriyaki chicken. Luffy’s was pretty tasteless. Sabo’s was actually okay. My favorite out of the three. I wish my Korean skills were good enough to remember what each meat was. I’ll come update this section when I go back.
One part I do like is the small dining area. They have figures and various merchandise displayed in glass display cases. The items inside change, which I think is pretty cool. They even have character art on the wall. Although, that hasn’t changed yet. When I first went back in November, the art was from the Whole Cake Island arc of the anime, and that hasn’t changed nine months later. Maybe it will when the anime moves to a different story arc.
Another cool thing is downstairs from the dinning area is a small One Piece merchandise shop. The inventory is constantly changing and it has things from figures and plushies, to notebooks and mouse pad. The selection is quite varied. I usually try not to purchase anything because it means more things to pack/ship when i do eventually return to the USA. Sometimes, I can’t help myself, so I keep it small.