As a popular area for students, Hongdae is so covered in unique indie cafes and bars that even 4 years into my life in Korea I have yet to discover them all! I was introduced somewhat recently to a couple of back streets near Hongik University Station that I had never ventured onto before as I tended to just go where everyone else did. Big mistake! Down one of these many hidden streets is where I was brought to one of my current favourites – Cuba King!
A bit hard to find, and you’ll miss it if you don’t know where you’re going, but those kinds of places tend to be the best of them all! Cuba King is a small, out of the way bar that smells subtlety of incense and decorated not so subtlety in red, yellow, and green – a tribute to the reggae culture the manager of this and two other Hongdae based reggae themed bars (Hippie King & Jamaica King) is so fond of. Even if you’re not a fan of reggae you will definitely be welcomed by a cheerful, relaxed atmosphere through not just the decor but also the bright personalities of those that work there. The decor, that despite not seeming to take any direction in particular, is great for the eyes. The bar caters particularly well to artsy types who are looking for a quiet place to wind down, as well as offering a great atmosphere to relax or even study on your own during the week as there are fewer customers than on the weekend.
When going to places like this I tend to go the boring route and order a beer as 1) I am cheap student 2) beer always tastes nice! (Although many would disagree…) My friend on the other hand ordered a “Golden Medalist”, which is a non-alcoholic strawberry based smoothie-type drink. Apparently it was delicious! Due to an allergy I was unable to confirm myself, sadly…ㅠㅠ The prices are very reasonable and the size of everything is quite large, so definitely worth the money. A little goes a long way!
As it goes in Korea, when you get drinks ordering an anju, or side dish that goes with alcohol, is a must (although it isn’t obligatory)! We decided to go with the garlic shrimp and mussels, a great choice. I have never been disappointed by any of the food I have ordered from Cuba King – it always tastes AMAZING! This was no exception…not too heavy, and the garlic sauce was so, so good.
Along with the muscles came some toasted bread drizzled in honey and sprinkled with almonds. I am not sure whether this is standard for this dish or we got it because we always go there, but it went amazing with it either way. Dipping the honey soaked bread in the garlic sauce was to die for! Korea’s “service” culture of giving away freebies to loyal customers is always a plus. Cuba King is a definite recommendation for the type who is sick of the standard smokey, noisy bar filled with rowdy drunk students that is quite a common sight in Hongdae. Anyone looking to meet with a few friends and spend the night chatting, or even just to get round one off to a relaxing start, is more than welcome at Cuba King!
★ Map ★
I hope everyone had a good weekend, and to those who’s vacation ended today like myself…GOOD LUCK!! ( ㅠㅅㅠ)و ̑̑