Hongdae’s Hello Kitty Cafe has got to be one of the neighborhood’s biggest attractions. Down a small alley on Hongdae’s busiest shopping street stood a lovely two story bright pink cafe, with that iconic HK bow on it. Everyday, tons of foreigners and tourists flocked there just to take in the intense amount of cuteness that is Hello Kitty. This is why I found it so surprising when it closed down. At first I thought they were renovating it, perhaps to expand it. However, when I returned again, I realized that the cafe was now some sort of clothing boutique.
That’s life in Seoul; one day you’re enjoying your favorite cafe and the next day it’s a clothing store. If I had a dollar for every time this has happened to me… Anyway, I knew that a place that popular couldn’t have just closed down, especially since there was always a wait just to get a table. So, I did a little digging and sure enough… victory!
I present to you, the NEW Hello Kitty Cafe! To say that the cafe has been given a makeover would be an incredible understatement. In fact, the entire feel and concept has been revamped. It seems as though Hello Kitty has traded in her quaint little cafe for something a bit more glamorous. From the moment you enter the grand powder pink gates, you get this feeling of grandeur. Then you are led up a small path of stairs to the patio of what can only be described as a two story mansion. It’s enormous!
From top to bottom, the entire exterior is painted in three shades of pink with white trim and gold accents. The design itself reminds me of a life-sized dollhouse, but the architecture is definitely of both Korean and Western influence. The large wooden patio is empty now, but once the weather warms up it will definitely leave room for some lovely outdoor seating.
The first floor of the cafe features a living room type of seating area, complete with faux fireplace, lace and crystal accented chandelier lamps, flatscreen TV and display cases full of various HK trinkets. The kitchen, order counter and women’s restroom can also be found on the first floor. However, the newest addition to the cafe would have to be the gift shop. Here you can find all sorts of cute and unique souvenirs such as Hello Kitty plushies dressed in hanboks, exclusive Hello Kitty Cafe cups and even HK ear headbands.
The second floor holds the men’s restroom and more seating, complete with adorable signature metallic Hello Kitty shaped couches and arm chairs, framed Hello Kitty portraits and comfy little pillows. However, the most interesting thing of this floor would definitely be Hello Kitty’s very own bedroom! From the bed, vanity and pictures to the wall clock, plushies and figures, this room is decked out from top to bottom in everything a super Hello Kitty fan would want in a room. Though Hello Kitty herself may not be home, she left her door wide open to kindly welcome all curious visitors, and their cameras, into her world.
Finally, the menu is pretty much the same, which I found to be a bit disappointing. The prices have also gone up, which is completely unnecessary. A few sets were added to the menu like the hot dog set and salad set, but there is nothing special or appetizing about them. They don’t have any kind of Hello Kitty theme to them and are a bit overpriced in my opinion. Of course they still offer promotional items which change every season and those are usually pretty nice. Currently they have their strawberry menu items, so if you want to top off your pink sugar high, this would be the way to go. I personally recommend the Strawberry Latte and Hello Kitty Strawberry Waffle, which will cost you ₩5,500 each.
Overall, the new location is a huge step up from the old. There is plenty of seating, so you don’t have to wait an hour for a table and the gift shop has a lot of really cute and unique items. There are also lots of cute “photo zones” inside and outside, which are perfect for all your selfie needs. I would have to say that my only complaint would be the service. I found the people who work here to be very rude on several occasions and not very helpful. Other than that, it’s a cool place to check out especially if you’re just visiting. I’m sure even Non-Hello Kitty fans will be impressed!