The entry of foreign big corp spots like McDonalds, Burger King, Costco and the spread of Korean chains like Emart, Paris Baguette and Hansot has changed the market forever in Korea. Local grocers in traditional markets often voice their complaints and have even managed to push through rules on large supermarkets to close at certain hours and at least two Sundays a month. Many mom-and-pop stores and restaurants were driven out of the market due to the bigger chains.
However, one place that withstood the competition, and actually thrived with it, was a bakery called Renaissance Bakery & Café. Established in 1982, Renaissance has grown larger by the year. Currently they have two bakeries just a few minutes’ walk from Mapo station. Having started in a tiny bakery back in 1982, they have now grown and the couple that runs the bakery bought the whole building the bakery is located in to dedicate it all to bread-baking.
The couple’s zeal and love for baking shines through in both the flavor of the pastries but is also evident if you have a conversation with them. The husband has traveled around the world, especially to France and Japan, to study baking techniques. If you visit Renaissance bakery, he will surely be eager to hear your suggestions and comments about the bakery.
The main store is very roomy and can host several groups at the same time. The interior is very quaint with vintage looking furniture juxtaposed with modern lighting. But the spotlight of the bakery is right in the middle of the room, namely the rows upon rows of delicious pastries. One thing that will certainly catch your eye as you enter is the assortment of homemade jams that they sell. Next to regular players like strawberry and apricot we see unique flavors like Earl Grey jam and green tea jam. These jams are the perfect substitute to the Nutella jar that you are probably nibbling on every morning.
Next, your eyes will surely wander to the array of colors of the various tarts. Apple, blueberry almond, strawberry, pecan, pistachio apricot, blueberry cheese…and the list goes on. The base dough is different for every tart to match the filling. Apart from tarts, they have your regular pastries like castella, sponge cake, sweet bean paste pastries and other sweet pastries. Among the latter, make sure not to miss the Mont Blanc, which here is like a big sweet croissant that will crumble in a lovely way all over your arm while you eat it, but oh my is it worth it!
It is evident that the owners have had more than 30 years to perfect their pastries. Every item is a doughy pocket of love and the drinks are just as tasty.
1) 큰우물로점: 서울시 마포구 큰우물로 39. Tel: 02-716-2808
2) 토정로점: 서울시 마포구 토정로 282. Tel: 02-715-2808
Business hours: Around 8:30 – 11PM (Closed Sundays)