The neighborhood of Gyeongnidan, which is nestled not far from the bustling main strip of Itaewon, was once a peaceful residential neighborhood inhabited mostly by international expats and elderly Koreans. Over the past few years, however, it has been popularized by food bloggers and television programs, transforming into an overcrowded commercialized district of lifeless cafes and restaurants established with priorities placed on the wallets of their proprietors rather than serving a community.
While the gentrification of Gyeongnidan does have its upsides, any traces of the neighborhood it once was have seemingly all but vanished. Long term residents of the area are disheartened by this, longing for a relaxing space they can come together, without having to wait in preposterously long lines. While such a place might only seem like the stuff of dreams these days, the newly opened Our Commune
, located on the main road just next to the GS25 (previously 7-11), is the answer to residents’ hopes.
This five story complex is the dream of Mok Younggyo, a respected photographer, clothing designer and author. Having spent the past six months dedicated to making Our Commune a reality, he worked tirelessly to ensure that each and every detail of the place was well planned and executed. Mok himself designed every aspect of the interior, from the layout, to the lighting fixtures to the gorgeous wooden tables, which he hand-cut from wood he procured in Ichon.
But rather than just focusing on one type of business, as most first-time owners might, Mok sought to incorporate a number of them into what he calls a "city market." As a result, Our Commune boasts a café, a restaurant, a yogurt vendor and a multi-shop. Although each part of the complex serves a different purpose, the concept is consistent, tied together by the building’s simplistic interior and calming vibe.
On the first floor, Slow Things serves thick and creamy homemade Greek yogurt (₩4,000) with an option to add premium toppings (+₩3,000/2) such as organic granola and fruit. (In fact, all of the ingredients used at Our Commune are organic and locally sourced, when possible.) Of these toppings, the house jams, which can be purchased separately and taken home, are especially delicious.
Weekender Coffee is Our Commune’s café and has a basic coffee menu at standard Gyeongnidan prices (starting at ₩5,000). Unlike most coffee joints in the area, however, the terrace on the third floor offers a peaceful, romantic outdoor terrace away from the prying eyes of passersby and an even better view from the rooftop, which is the perfect place to savor the rich flavors of the Weekender Coffee Affogato (₩6,000) or perhaps a bottle of La Chouffe Belgium beer. (This is also where the herbs used in all the dishes are grown.) Mok collaborated with consultants to create the recipes for lalala, the restaurant, and ended up with a menu that is eclectic, if not a bit confusing, but delicious all the same. The Banana Crispy French Toast (₩13,000) makes for a satisfyingly sweet brunch or shared dessert, while the Mashed Potato Omelette (₩10,000) is the ultimate comfort food. Yes, you heard that right. The perfectly fluffy omelette stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese is rich and glorious and will undoubtedly be a star player in no time. Try it with the Tomato Green Bean Salad (₩6,000), a small but healthy pairing of a boiled-then-grilled tomato atop a bed of crunchy grilled green beans. The MYG multi-shop, located in the basement, is slated to open next month and will showcase everything from aprons to eco-bags, all of which are designed by Mok. It’s obvious that Mok has put a great deal of thought and heart into his business’ design, food and sales products. But above all of these things, he hopes that Our Commune will be just that—a place where people can come together, to share and be at one with the community. As such, there is even an additional 20% discount for Itaewon residents (who have proof of identification), to ensure Our Commune becomes a local spot, and perhaps even will help Gyeongnidan retain a bit of what it once was.
More Information: Our Commune
Address: 225-142 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (이태원동 225-142)
Hours: Tues-Thurs, Sun: 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-12am; Closed Mondays
Get There: From exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), walk straight until you reach the underpass. Go down the stairs, cross the street, and exit through the left side. Stay right and walk straight along Gyeongnidan-gil for about 5 minutes. Our Commune is located on the right side of the street, just before the large GS25 convenience store.
Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.
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