Thursday 20 June 2013

Tea and Snacks along Garosugil - Godiva Chocolates & VB Café

"Garosu-gil"s basically mean tree lined streets in Korean, but the most famous of them all is the ginko tree-lined Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong. But even with the shade provided by the leafy ginko trees, the heat still got to us about five stores in. And then, we saw the Godiva flagship store and a massive sign advertising their chocolate soft serve. Ice cream, just what we needed. 

There was a period about seven years ago where I'd spend an absurd proportion of my pocket money on Godiva chocolates. I'd go to the nearest store at Takashimaya after school, and buy myself a truffle or two, and slowly eat them on the bus journey home. It got to a point where I was able to carry out a pseudo-scientific study on whether it was better to just let the truffle melt in my mouth, chew on the truffle, or bite it in half and let the flavours mingle. 

(My conclusion: Let the shell melt a little and enjoy that for a bit. While it's still largely hard, bite once through to halve it, savour the sound of the shell snapping, then taste the insides and spread it around with your tongue. Yeah. I had a lot of time to think this through on the bus.)

All this started after I attended one of their chocolate decoration workshops, where we learned how to pipette out designs like the leaf seen below. It's a sneaky but effective marketing campaign, letting people taste your stuff. 

The proven effectiveness of this tactic was probably why they had a plate of truffles left in prime position for visitors to try for free. 

It was a Fruit Cajou truffle, as we found out from the chocolate menu nearby. We each had a whole truffle, then felt guilty for taking so many and stopped, and went to get our  ice cream. 

Godiva only rolled out this chocolate soft serve ice cream this summer, and whoever thought this up is genius. With a chocolate dipped cone coated with crunchy biscuit bits, creamy milk chocolate ice cream decorated with chocolate sauce and decorated with a sliver of branded chocolate, it was utterly delicious.

Even with the light colour of the soft serve, it was intensely chocolate-y and rich. We stood there slowly savouring every last bit of it in the blissfully air-conditioned store before venturing back out into the heat of the day. 

(Another reason why we ate so slowly was because the store had a really good free wifi signal and we were checking our emails. Heh.) 

The ice cream was served to us in dainty holders

Later on, after making our rounds of the stores on both sides of the street, we were famished and desperate to find a place to sit and rest our feet. M & I spied an airy looking café where groups of ladies looked to be having pretty looking drinks, and made a beeline for it. We were seated off the main café area, next to a small alcove where this rather fascinating light fixture-and-chair combo was located. 

Only after we'd ordered our drinks and cakes did we have a proper look about, and realize that the café was really part of a slimming centre run by AmorePacific. VB apparently stands for 'Vitality is just Beauty', and we'd walked straight into their Diet Lab. The gym and consultation rooms were just up the stairs.

Once we figured this out, the super healthy menu choices and random ingredients like 'DX' suddenly made a lot more sense. As did the massive neon sign screaming 'BEAUTY'. 

There's no beauty unless 'EAT'ing is involved
Then we noticed the screen playing a programme documenting the full consultation and gym experience, ending with a light meal at the café. We'd already done our exercise for the day, so coming to this café seemed rather apt. 

It didn't take very long for our things to arrive. M had their special non-alcoholic mojito, which came in a beaker, with extra mint at the side in a bowl with a pestle. 

I had the VB Pink-ade, which came in a tall glass with half a lemon and bits of pomegranate floating around. The drink had a very faint chemical taste to it, which came from the addition of the S'Lite Slimmer DX drink to the lemonade. The drink apparently helps to regulate the oxidation of fatty acids. When I was drinking it I honestly thought it was an appetite suppressant, because I was too full for anything else afterwards. 

I had a slice of the soy cake, which unfortunately tasted as bland as its name suggested. The texture was great and it was soft and fluffy, but it was also really tasteless. The orange blobs of mango purée did very little for it too. 

M opted for the soy ice cream, which also tasted unattractively healthy, alas. 

But it was a beautiful place to just sit and unwind, so we took our time and ate everything so as not to waste it. Whatever they put inside made it impossible for us to even consider having dinner, so we had to skip a meal. 

Godiva: 45, Apgujeong-ro 12-gil, Seoul, South Korea
VB Diet Lab Café: 26, Apgujeong-ro 8-gil, Seoul, South Korea

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