You know all those other Korean cafes you’ve been to? They wish they were The Two Guys Underground Blues (두남자인 반지하 브루쓰).
While other places may spend large amounts of money to capture that well-worn, slightly distressed, hole-in-the-wall aesthetic, Underground Blues manages it effortlessly because it basically is a hole-in-the-wall. Well, if we want to get technical, it’s a basement, but the effect proves memorable, inviting, and cozy. If you don’t know what to look for then this cafe can be easy to miss. The entrance features a simple door under a similarly understated neon sign. Beside it, the Ladies and Gents restroom doors are adorned with paintings in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.
Now, I’ll be honest with you: I’m no coffee connoisseur. That’s not to say I can’t taste the difference between a stick of Maxim Instant Coffee and say, a fresh roasted, slow brewed, rich blend from Columbia. I can manage that. It’s just the stuff in the middle that becomes harder to distinguish. Add to this the fact that my favorite drink is a caramel macchiato and you start to understand my coffee habits. That disclaimer out of the way, I feel confident saying that Underground Blues has some excellent coffee.
It’s not only good, but comes in a rather large variety. They offer numerous teas, smoothies, Dutch drip coffee, and specialty drinks in addition to the usual suite of Americanos, cappuccinos, and lattes. On my last visit I opted for the Maple Latte. If you’ve been in Korea for a while I ask you: when was the last time you saw maple anything? It’s sweet and smooth with subtle hints of maple and the bitterness of the coffee finishing out the taste. The Twix Frappuccino also comes highly recommended by one of our other staffers at The Dish, though, be warned, it has proven to be highly addictive. Underground Blues does offer soy milk for any of their lattes; just make sure you ask for it when you order.
Coffee and drinks are all well and good, but what if you’re hungry? No worries, because Underground Blues has you covered, offering a wide range of foods and desserts. Anything from sandwiches, salads, muffins and waffles, to summertime bingsu, cheesecake, various honey breads, and even mousse. The portions are generally large and probably best enjoyed with a friend. Some options, such as one particularly massive bingsu, might need at least four people in order to finish it.
Personally, we tried one of the sandwich plates which came with six mini sandwiches and a serving of nachos. The sandwiches were a little on the sweet side, but still enjoyable, while the nachos were excellent and came with their own unique kind of salsa.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you visit The Two Guys. First, it has seating for about 30 people total, and there is a chance they could be full when you arrive. Second, it is located in Jochiwon’s Hongdae district making it a bit of a trek from Jochiwon or Sejong proper, though it is well worth it. Additionally, like most places in Hongdae, it is closed on Saturdays. However they are open late during the week. On Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. till 1 a.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. till 12 a.m.
Perhaps, after you realize it is well worth the effort to visit you will find that Underground Blues excels to the utmost in its décor and general atmosphere. It’s a cross between your favorite coffee shop and the rustic neighborhood English pub you always dreamed of but never had. The walls are adorned with an interesting mix of art from small original paintings and sketches to intriguing portraits and quotes done on partially, though carefully, ripped cardboard. You’ll find well-worn wooden tables and large velvet wraparound seating. In one corner is a raised floor with a low Korean style table to relax by. Another nook features three walls with wraparound bar seating complete with stools; an excellent spot when you just need to get a bit of work done alone.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy current and obscure music along with the accompanying videos projected onto one of the main walls. The cafe’s many shelves are stocked full with all sorts of books. Take one down and practice your Korean, or check out the small selection of CDs and DVDs on hand. Who knows, maybe that random CD of experimental Japanese Jazz was just the thing you always wanted. Still not enough? Then feel free to use any of the various board games that are on hand. Finally, most nights you’ll find at least one of the two friendly owners hard at work but always happy to help or talk, so be sure to say “Hello.”
Directions: Take bus 801 to the 석골 stop. Turn right at the GS25 and onto Gureongmal-gil (구렁말길). Turn left at the (또래오래치킨)/Wellmade Pizza onto Dolgan-gil (돌간길). Continue straight until you see a 7/11 then turn left on to Dolgan1-gil (돌간-1길). Underground Blues is the first building on your left and has a blue façade.
Price Range: Drinks ₩3,500-₩6,000 and food ₩3,000-₩13,000
Dish Picks: Twix Frappuccino (₩5,500) and the Maple Latte (₩4,300)
Hours: Monday-Friday 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sunday 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Closed Saturday
Address: Sejong-si, Jochiwon-eup, Sinan-ri, 320-3 Beonji
Note: If you decide you need your phone this basement seems to be a data dead zone. Inside my 3G connection was lost yet popped back in as soon as I stepped outside. I could still make calls, and Underground Blues offers free wifi so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.