Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oublier – Forget yourself in this Itaewon station cafe

Sibling love is a strange thing. Growing up with a sibling, you often quarrel a lot in your younger days but find yourself becoming more and more similar to each other in terms of hobbies, music taste and personality. No matter how much you fight, there is a kind of unwritten rule that you automatically make up within 24 hours even if no one utters the words ”sorry”.
So why, you ask me, am I talking about love between a brother and sister in a cafe interview? You might guess it, but the owners of the cafe ”Oublier” are members of the same family and the cafe is their first attempt at running an establishment together. Their past experiences complement each other perfectly. The younger family member, Kenny, is a tea sommelier (I barely knew that profession even existed) and the older sister, Amy, is a patissier with the experience under her belt of having worked together with one of the most famous Korean chefs, recently famous on TV (his name escapes me).
As a tea sommelier, hours upon hours of training and testing lies behind the selection of teas at Oublier. Kenny will be happy to reveal why black teas go well with tangy desserts and oolong tea goes better the cafe’s parade dish – the Cannoli. He will also reveal just exactly what makes oolong tea different from green tea (actually, the answer is the level of oxidation), since in most Westerners minds they are all the same. Usually the owners lets the customers choose either a drink or a dessert they want to try and then recommend the best drink/dessert to accompany that choice.
Being skeptical to wine sommeliers from the get-go, I first took Kenny’s recommendation with a grain of salt. But after trying to Grapefruit Meringue Tart in combination with the Taipei Pine black tea, I noticed how the tea takes the edge off the inherent bitterness of the grapefruit, and I was made into a believer of the tea sommelier profession! You can really taste how fresh the grapefruit in the tart is, and you soon realize how much better Oublier is than your regular run-of-the-mill places like Starbucks Coffee or Angel-in-Us.
While conversing with the owners, I found myself just smelling the cup of tea and letting the aroma enter my sinus cavities and down into my lungs, as if the tea aroma was cleansing my body in a form of catharsis. Oublier’s most famous and most complicated dessert to bake is the Italian Cannoli. It consist of a tube-shaped shell made from dough fried dark brown in the oven and then filled with a mix of mascarpone and/or ricotta cheese. Amy was not satisfied with the cheese you can find from the distributors, so she just decided to make it herself.
Finally, Oublier makes their own fruit drinks, sometimes adding fizz by themselves as well. I sampled a red mango and raspberry drink, and was constantly thinking to myself how many deciliters of fresh fruit actually went into making the drink, since it was very rich and full of flavor.
Oublier is very hidden behind some houses in Itaewon’s residential area, just a few hundred meters away from the other restaurants. Although it might be difficult to spot for potential customers, I think this is one of merits of Oublier. They have a few tables outside as well, and a little corner for pets.This makes Oublier not only a top-notch cafe, but also a great place to take your friends or date for a post-dinner glass of wine or three.
The name ”Oublier” comes from the same verb from French, meaning ”To forget”. It has a few other meanings as well, but for the owner it basically means that when you enter the cafe, the atmosphere will take you to another secluded spot where you can escape your daily worries for a few hours. This, it certainly succeeds in doing.
Business hours: 11:30AM – 11PM (Closed Mondays)
Address: 서울특별시 용산구 이태원로23길 26-5 (Walk out of exit 1, Itawon stn, and take a right just after KFC. Take a left at Moghul Restaurant and a right up the stairs after restaurant My Chelsea. Follow the road for 2-3 minutes while looking at your right side. Soon you will see a building with a dark blue exterior and some big cutlery ornaments. That is your cue that you are at the right place!)
Phone: 02-790-1224

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