Café scene brewing in Little Korea enclave

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Café scene brewing in Little Korea enclave

It’s a balmy Friday night, the moon is almost full and while the Blue Moon isn’t exactly full, there’s a fair sized crowd sipping coffee and soaking up the mellow sounds of a cool saxophonist who’s blowin’ in the wind on the small outdoor stage.

The Blue Moon is the latest, and indisputably the grandest, addition to the strip of sleek Korean coffee shops that have sprung up on National Road 6, en route to the airport, servicing mainly the enclave of South Koreans residing and doing business in the immediate vicinity.

The coffee shops don’t attract a passing pedestrian parade because pedestrians are mostly non-existent.

Nor do they cater for the bicycle and motor scooter crew – they’re strictly upmarket, suburban in ambience and precisely geared at the well-dressed, well-mannered, well-manicured casual Korean trendies who eschew two-wheels and arrive mostly in new model sedans and SUVs.

The five major coffee shops along the half-kilometre strip all have similar a-la-lounge-room interior design – cosy and comfy modern armchairs and sofas, lots of wood combining sleekness and trimmings of laid-back suburban affluence.

The coffee is good all along the strip and prices are cheaper than the downtown cafes frequented by western expats, ranging from $2.20 to $2.50.

Striking statuary sets the scene on Blue Moon.
Striking statuary sets the scene on Blue Moon. PETER OLSZEWSKI

All the Korean cafes feature a good array of pastries and two outlets – Jasmine Bakery and Coffee, and Café Ti Amo bake pastries and bread rolls that are also sold in the western expat supermarket haven, Angkor Market.

Café Ti Amo in particular excels with the range of breads and pastry delights that it sells at Angkor Market and other outlets, and while Café Ti Amo is South Korean, the name is Italian and translates as the I Love You Café.

La Rose Café goes one step further in the bakery department and makes and sells its own interesting pizzas and sandwiches.

The URL Coffee Shop and Bakery, next to the Total Fashion shop, is a quaint little nook that boasts of being a ‘book café.’ It features shelves of books which coffee imbibers can delve into and the décor is enhanced by cute little tea and coffee pot sets. The owner, Lee Yong Hyuk, says one of his goals was to bring culture not only to the coffee drinking set, but also to the Korean strip of National Road 6, as the highway itself tends to be a tad barren. Lee Yong Hyuk says he also set out to make the café a funky work area where customers can study or do their office work in an ultra-relaxed mode.

But the newbie on the block is also the biggest and flashest of them all – the afore-mentioned Blue Moon Café.

This is a complex rather than simply a café – set on a large block of land, it sits next to an arcade of Blue Moon shops, the largest being a very well stocked fruit shop.

The Blue Moon café itself has a very smart interior that incorporates a silver-and-glass bar that’s beginning to pull a lively Korean nighttime crowd.

Outside are several pavilions where groups can congregate and these are interspersed with lush little garden strips, gushing fountains and odd statuary that has a sort of undeclared eroticism.

Customers in these pavilions can order baskets of fresh fruit from the fruit shop. Fine fresh pastry and savoury dishes are also available.

There’s also a stage that’s set up for outdoor musical performances, and at present Friday night features a talented saxophonist.

Wi-fi is available but most regulars seem to come here to socialise and chat face to face.

All in all it’s a great place to hang, although don’t expect to see too many, if any, western faces.

Well worth checking out..

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