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Calling all bakery buffs -- Seongsu-dong's must-visit bagel shops

By Kim Da-sol

Published : March 16, 2024 - 16:01

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The success of London Bagel Museum has opened a new phase in Seoul’s bakery scene, with numerous unprecedented "styles" of bagels being enjoyed more like a dessert with a distinct Korean style than a simple breakfast bite topped with cream cheese.

Seongsu-dong, a former industrial complex and an area known for shoemakers' shops, is a must-stop area for people on a "bread pilgrimage" seeking sweet and savory bagel variations.

Some of the trendiest bakeries take reservations via their social media accounts, so you don’t need to fight a big crowd or endure long queues.

KnickerBocker Bagel's Seongsu-dong branch (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald) KnickerBocker Bagel's Seongsu-dong branch (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
Interior of KnickerBocker Bagel's Seongsu-dong branch. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald) Interior of KnickerBocker Bagel's Seongsu-dong branch. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
KnickerBocker Bagel's French bagel. (KnickerBocker Bagel) KnickerBocker Bagel's French bagel. (KnickerBocker Bagel)

KnickerBocker Bagel

For those craving a New York-style bagel, this bagel brand, which originated in Brooklyn, New York, opened its second shop in Korea in Seongsu-dong last winter, two years after opening its first shop in Jamsil in Songpa-gu during the pandemic.

Aside from the flagship bagel sandwich – Loxury (a combination of salmon, and blueberry cream cheese) -- try the shop's dessert-like bagels with sweet, savory cream cheese variations.

The French bagel, a French toast version of bagel topped with grilled bananas and strawberries, the Victoria bagel cake with whipped cream and strawberry jam spread between slices and the Soboro bagel, an apple crumble encrusted bagel, all make great sweet desserts.

The interior here is distinctive. As soon as you step in, the conveyor belt-like installation on the ceiling catches your eye. The belts are not just decorative but deliver bags of bagels to the customers from the second floor where they are baked. Drinks and orders are made on the first floor and seating is available on the third floor.

Prices start at 4,000 won for a bagel, and cream cheese spreads start at 3,800 won. The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Mandong Bakery's Seongsu-dong branch. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald) Mandong Bakery's Seongsu-dong branch. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)
Mandong Bakery's basil tomato crunchy bagel (Mandong Bakery) Mandong Bakery's basil tomato crunchy bagel (Mandong Bakery)
Mandong Bakery's sesame honey butter bagel (Mandong Bakery) Mandong Bakery's sesame honey butter bagel (Mandong Bakery)

Mandong Bakery

Mandong Bakery, which runs shops in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, and Yeonnam-dong in Mapo-gu, Seoul, just opened its third store in Seongsu-dong last December.

While the bakery offers a variety of breads ranging from its signature garlic baguettes to cream cheese-filled pretzels, the steady sellers here are the more unique bagel variations -- the crunchy basil tomato bagel and sesame honey butter bagel.

Mandong Bakery’s bagels are very crispy and crunchy on the outside but chewy inside, making for a great combination with different types of spread -- sun-dried cherry tomato and cream cheese mixed with a sprinkle of basil powder, for example.

The sesame honey butter bagel, whose taste could be predictable, to the contrary, offers an unprecedented taste of sesame-encrusted bagel. This bagel is all about sweetness and nuttiness, very rich in flavor, and less heavy compared to other desserts. The Ang butter bread features sweet red bean paste with a salted butter spread between two pieces of bread.

Mandong Bakery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Prices range from 3,800 won to 6,500 won.