Tomo Tome (Jukjeon café street)

Okay, time to return to the wonderful Jukjeon café street for the next awesome café!

This one is a place called Tomo Tome, right next to I’m Home and at the north entrance to the café street. Now, while my posting on I’m Home had a heavy focus on desserts rather than the coffee there, at Tomo Tome I rightly focused on their drinks. For example:

Delicious mocha at Tomo Tome, August 2010
Delicious mocha at Tomo Tome, August 2010

A delicious mocha, and a nice presentation too. It was August 28, a rainy and windy day in the Seoul metropolitan area, and even though the picture focuses on the coffee, you can really sense the dark atmosphere surrounding it. Ah, it was a great day for coffee. And this was a really good mocha. ‘Tomo Tome,’ I decided, ‘I will be back!’

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And so I did, just a week later, on a Sunday with heavy rain. I went to work on lesson planning. Now, just yesterday I posted an article about how café sounds help creativity. With the mocha from the week before and whatever drink I had the second time, I decided that Tomo Tome had wonderful drinks and was a comfortable place to visit. But……. the ambiance was a little lacking. Actually, over all the times that I’ve been there or walked by, I noticed it was often, but not always, pretty empty. Except for the smoking section. Yes, like many cafés in Korea, Tomo Tome has a special smoking section, glass-enclosed and accessible with a sliding push-button door. Often, these smoking sections also get the best views (grrr). And so, at Tomo Tome, I’ll often walk by and see the smoking section full of people, but the regular section empty. So even if their drinks are great, I’ll skip it to go someplace with more people, more life, more ambiance. It’s regrettable, actually, because their drinks are usually really good!

But, I still went from time to time. I took a friend there a week later, and she really liked it. Then in early October, on a relaxing Sunday, I went again after a walk along the Tancheon, the stream that runs beside the Jukjeon café street and north all the way to Seoul. It was a nice day, so once at Tomo Tome I decided order a mocha and sit outside. Yes, quite a few of the cafés here have pleasant outdoor seating under the shady trees. I let the barista know that even though I was outside, it was a “for here” order. But when my order came, it was in a “to go” cup. So I politely made a comment but said that it was okay. (As an environmentally-friendly Seattleite, I hate to get paper or plastic to go cups unless absolutely necessary, so as not to waste precious natural resources and create more waste). So in a little while, the barista actually came outside with another mocha in a for here cup! Yes, Korean service is of such high quality that they always want to ensure that the customer is happy. (And as a result, Koreans tend to expect quite a higher level of service than people in the US). And, depending on the situation and the place, sometimes foreigners like me get treated extra-nice. (Sometimes we get treated worse, too, but that’s another story…). Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised, as it was very kind of them. Here was my mocha, take 2:

Mocha at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Mocha at Tomo Tome, October 2010

Ah yes, the cover from the mocha, take 1, is barely visible in the top right corner. I guess I took it home and recycled it? lol. Yes, I’m the type of person to do that. 😀

So with this updated mocha, I relaxed outside reading a book. As in my De Chocolate posting, I was reading In Arabian Nights. And soon, someone came to me and said hi. It was my bank teller from Cheongdeok walking with her husband. After a little while, it started to rain a bit, so I went inside so my book wouldn’t get wet. Only 3 minutes later, I looked outside and saw a friend’s daughter playing with a friend. So I went back out to say hi. The daughter was shocked to see me and ran to her mom, haha. Her mom happened to be at I’m Home. When the rain stopped, I went outside again. And my friend’s daughter and her friend started to bring me gifts…

Leaves that young friends gave me while I was at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Leaves that young friends gave me while I was at Tomo Tome, October 2010

…and more gifts…

Leaves and flowers young friends gave me while I was at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Leaves and flowers young friends gave me while I was at Tomo Tome, October 2010

So it was a sweet day of good service, coincidental encounters, a little rain, and good coffee. Korea can be a small world sometimes.

Near the end of October, I happened to be in the café street again and got this shot of Halloween spirit:

Two days before Halloween, early trick-or-treaters at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Two days before Halloween, early trick-or-treaters at Tomo Tome, October 2010

And then, for Halloween itself, Tomo Tome baristas had a special trick up their sleeves…

Mocha with latte art (including Halloween bats!) at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Mocha with latte art (including Halloween bats!) at Tomo Tome, October 2010

Cute holiday latte art, no? Yeah, they do things with style there. While drinking this spooky mocha, I looked up at the sky. Here’s an idea of what you see in the café street in the fall:

Looking up from my seat outside Tomo Tome, October 2010
Looking up from my seat outside Tomo Tome, October 2010

Oh, guess what? Tomo Tome also has food:

Cheese tart at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Cheese tart at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Waffles at Tomo Tome, October 2010
Waffles at Tomo Tome, October 2010

And resident stuffed animals:

The sleeping stuffed cat outside Tomo Tome, October 2010
The sleeping stuffed cat outside Tomo Tome, October 2010

Winter came. And, of course, winters in Korea have lots and lots of snow. So here’s a distance shot of Tomo Tome (center left) and Beansbins across from it on a snowy night:

Snowy scene at the Jukjeon café street, with Tomo Tome and Beansbins in view, January 2011
Snowy scene at the Jukjeon café street, with Tomo Tome and Beansbins in view, January 2011

Up to this point, I had only taken pictures of mochas. Oops. Well then, here’s a caramel macchiato!:

Caramel Macchiato at Tomo Tome, March 2011
Caramel Macchiato at Tomo Tome, March 2011

Sometime in 2011, they had a slight remodeling. Not too much changed, but it was a little less cozy on the inside, and their logo changed too. The words Tomo and Tome now cross each other at the “o”, forming a circle. I’ll try to get a picture sometime. But now, with the remodeling, it seemed that the mug sizes were smaller…?

Mocha at Tomo Tome, December 2011
Mocha at Tomo Tome, December 2011

But their stuffed animal collection remains as loyal as ever.

At Tomo Tome, a mocha as the resident bear looks on, February 2012
At Tomo Tome, a mocha as the resident bear looks on, February 2012

Finally, before leaving Korea for the first time, I took two friends to Tomo Tome, and here we got to share a tasty blueberry cheesecake.

Blueberry cheesecake at Tomo Tome, March 2012
Blueberry cheesecake at Tomo Tome, March 2012

What about that name? It’s not Korean, and it’s definitely not English. But I’m fluent in Spanish, so I think I see their intention in naming their café. “Yo tomo” means “I drink”, while “Yo tomé” means “I drank”. (You wouldn’t always use the “Yo” but I put it for clarity). So while the name of the café doesn’t include an accent (a much more foreign concept to Koreans than the English language), I think the intent behind the name Tomo Tome is “I drink I drank”. Maybe when I’m more fluent in Korean I’ll ask sometime.

Here’s a link to a Google Map to find Tomo Tome.

So overall, great coffee, but sometimes poor ambiance. Worth a visit, though, if you’re in the Jukjeon area.

Final verdict:  ****

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