It’s been a while… I hope you’ve been having a wonderful summer! Everyone seems to be getting into the fall spirit now that it’s September, but it’s still summer until September 22nd, so please slow down and let me have my warm weather while it lasts!
Speaking of summer, this week was hot. Like, 91 degrees hot! Perfect weather for some Korean shaved snow, if I do say so myself. 😉 A great place to find some of this sweet, cooling treat is Grace Street Café, located in the heart of Koreatown. I’m fortunate enough to work just 10 minutes from K-town and often find myself popping in here during lunch hour for their delicious tea and desserts.
This place is famous for their Ho-Dduk 호떡, a type of Korean donut consisting of “soft, pillowy dough filled with melted brown sugar, chopped walnuts, and a hint of cinnamon. Served with vanilla ice cream.” Being a lover of donuts AND cinnamon, I immediately went for this on my first visit to Grace Street and was not disappointed. This stuff is just heavenly, though it does remind me less of a donut and more of the pillowy Mexican sopaipilla.
The second time I came around to this café, I was accompanied by my friend, Nina. She had been wanting to try their shaved snow, and I had been waiting for someone to share it with (trust me, these things are meant for 2 people!), so I was delighted to finally have the chance. The menu has a handful of pre-set snow combinations, but they also give you a sheet from which you can mix and match your own flavors and toppings. We decided to try the green tea snow with strawberries, boba, and passionfruit drizzle. It was a wonderful combo choice, if I do say so myself! 😉
As far as the interior of the café is concerned, I find Grace Street to be a bit of an intriguing conundrum. The design itself is very minimalist and abstract, which feels disjointed from their cutesy flower-encircled logo, girlish street advertising sign, and colorful floral trays and stickers. The walls are adorned with sketched murals that are slightly unsettling and Keri Shay photography portraits. It seems like the owners of Grace Street are unsure of how they’re trying to brand themselves, though the menu more than makes up for it and it’s easy to forget the minor details once you’ve lost yourself in a cinnamon-stuffed bite of Ho-Dduk. 😉
I’ve never visited Grace Street in the evening, but there is a sign that says that the café turns into table service after 6pm. In the afternoon, you simply walk in, order at the counter, and sit wherever you’d like. The place is always full of people when I visit, but the space is large (rare for an NYC café!) and has plenty of space to accommodate everyone.
During my most recent visit to Grace Street, I decided to try the only savory food option on the menu: the avocado katsuobushi waffle. This adventurous waffle features smashed avocado, two sunny-side up eggs, seaweed, sesame seeds, and shaved katsuobushi (Japanese for smoked tuna flakes). I’ll admit that the first couple of bites were a bit shocking–my uncultured palate was not used to the combination of fish and waffle! However, once I got over that, I actually really enjoyed this dish. If you’re a sushi fan, I think you’ll like it, too! If not, I don’t see why you couldn’t ask for it without the katsuobushi. c:
The drinks at Grace Street are just as delightful as the food. I can’t attest to the quality of their coffee as I’m not a coffee fan myself (though I have read good reviews of their coffee online!), but their tea has the perfect amount of sweetness. My go-to is their special iced Rose Petal Milk Tea, as this is something I’ve never seen anywhere else. It has a subtle, aromatic rose taste, and is topped with real rose buds. Adorable! 🌹☕
The Honey Matcha Latte is another drink I love, because the blessed union of honey and matcha is something that is so magical, I can’t believe it isn’t more common elsewhere! 🍯 Add in some of their honey boba pearls, and you’re golden.
Another thing that I love about Grace Street is that they are always offering free stickers! Just ask the cashier for one and they are happy to oblige. These stickers are featured on their iced beverage cups, but it’s fun to have them to put on your laptop, phone, notebook–or in my case, cubicle wall. Haha! It seems like they occasionally come out with new designs–I have 3 stickers so far with different colored variations of the Grace Street floral logo.
The next time you find yourself shopping for the newest Korean skincare, or looking for a sweet treat to indulge in after singing your heart out at the Asian-style karaoke places in Koreatown, definitely head over to Grace Street!