When Sanrio recently shocked the world by announcing that Hello Kitty is not a cat, I spent the whole day fielding questions from friends whether or not I have heard the news already. I got tagged over social media a lot and people were really concerned of my opinion. Because in my world, it is very much public knowledge that this is the type of news I actually care about. I am a grown ass woman who loves Hello Kitty. I would eat a broccoli if it’s in the shape of Hello Kitty.
Or maybe not eat it. But I’d take a picture of it, definitely. Then, I’d post it everywhere with #Hellokitty. But, still, no to broccoli.
The first time I applied for a visa for Korea, on the line where it asked what my purpose for going was, I wrote down that I wanted to visit the Hello Kitty cafe. It might sound to be the shallowest of reasons for going to Seoul, but it’s a reason that rings most true to me. I really wanted to see the Hello Kitty cafe.
And I did. The neighborhood we stay at in Seoul had a Hello Kitty cafe. It was a short two minute walk from the hotel. And yes, my head exploded. And I never got tired of it. The next year I went to Seoul, I made another trip there. It was becoming an annual pilgrimage of sorts. Me, Seoul and the Hello Kitty cafe in Hyehwa-dong.
So imagine my shock when I visited recently and the neighborhood Hello Kitty cafe was gone! On its place, the building barely stripped with the too sweet pink paint job, was a popcorn shop. Who would buy a boring popcorn over a waffle in the shape of Hello Kitty?!?
So on our free day out in Seoul, J, my sister-in-law and a fellow Hello Kitty lover, and I hunted down the other branch of Hello Kitty in the university area of Hongdae. Unlike the one in Hyehwa, this one’s a bit tricky to find, or that’s what the blogs say when I was researching it. There were people getting lost in the middle of nowhere Hongdae looking for it. I was weary, but I am determined. I am going to have overpriced cafe latte (and I don’t even take milk with my coffee) with Hello Kitty’s face on it.
Armed with a map from our friend Google and our sheer determination, we rode the subway and exited at Hongik University Station. A good walk around a couple of corners and upon reaching a busy alleyway on Hongdae, I thought, ‘This is where we are about to get lost.” That is until we saw a sickly saccharine pink painted on a wall on an even smaller alleyway and there, perched on a steep incline, is a 3-floor Hello Kitty cafe.
You couldn’t miss it. A steady crowd keeps coming by the cafe front and taking a clear shot of it was a pain because it really is a tourist-draw. Inside, the counter welcomes every Hello Kitty lover, and there was a sense of giddiness on every individual that enters the shop. This was a bigger, busier and Hello Kitty-er cafe than the one previously in Hyehwa.
J ordered the caramel waffle while I had the banana chocolate waffle. We both had the cafe latte. This was lunch.
As you would expect it — and I would be disappointed if it was anything less — everything was either Hello Kitty shaped or in Hello Kitty pink. I mean, if Hello Kitty vomitted, and it splattered all over the walls, and tables and food, this is how I imagine it would look like. This place is exactly what every Hello Kitty lover dreams of.
Hello Kitty Cafe. I was here.
Hello Kitty Cafe
How to get there: Get off at Hongik University Station (Inner Circle Line) Exit 9, walk towards the intersection then turn left. Walk straight then turn right at Tony Moly. Walk straight up the alley staying on the left side. There will be a small alley with a Hello Kitty pink wall. Turn left on that alley and you will immediately see the Hello Kitty Cafe.
Tip: If you somehow have no time to hunt this one down, there is a small Hello Kitty Cafe in Incheon Airport right next to Gate No. 23. 🙂