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10 Korean Cafes In Manila That Won't Disappoint

You don’t need to be a K-pop stan to appreciate these places.
PHOTO: (LEFT) Instagram/kbingsucafeph, (RIGHT) Instagram/kissthetiramisuph

With as many coffee shops as there are convenience stores in the country, South Korea’s café scene is easily one of the main reasons why travelers keep visiting. Next to peeping cherry blossoms in spring and shopping for beauty finds in Myeongdong, discovering charming cafés is a must in any Korean itinerary.

But if work, money, and other responsibilities are keeping you from flying to the land of IU and Innisfree, don’t drown your sorrows in bottles of soju just yet. Instead, make your way to Manila’s crop of Korean-inspired cafes, all of which are a mere car or MRT ride away. Check out our list for your bingsu or fruit ade fix.

  1. K Bingsu Cafe

    Location: Promenade Mall, Greenhills
    With its clean white clapboard walls and bright blue and yellow light fixtures, K Bingsu Cafe is a place that’s cheerful, inviting, and easy on the eyes. Already a popular haunt for K-pop fans to hold cup sleeve events honoring idols’ birthdays and milestones (say, BTS’ sixth anniversary), it’s nonetheless a spot that the whole family can enjoy. After all, the ability to enjoy the sweet things in life—like K Bingsu’s namesake shaved ice dessert—is universal. The café’s menu includes popular fruit toppings like strawberry and mango, but for something distinctly Korean, go for the Injeolmi Bingsu, which features pieces of sticky rice cake generously dusted with powdered dried beans.

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  2. Beanbox

    Locations: Barangka, Mandaluyong; Tandang Sora, Quezon City; Quiapo, Manila
    Do fun activities compel you to check out a café? If so, Beanbox definitely warrants a visit. At all of its three branches, guests can fire up their competitive spirit with various board games to play with. In line with the café’s Korean theme, hanboks (traditional Korean costumes) are also available for customers to try. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the chance to sample Beanbox’s fluffy Honey Bread and soothing Brown Rice Tea while fully decked out in ceremonial attire fit for a princess—photo op, anyone?

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  3. Tom N Toms Coffee

    Location: Julia Vargas, Pasig City
    Locals down south are no strangers to Tom N Toms, since the Korean chain has actually had branches in Bacolod and Cebu since 2015 and 2016, respectively. While Tom N Toms is ubiquitous in South Korea, the coffeehouse is capturing the Filipino market slowly and surely, having only opened its first Metro Manila store in July 2018. If it’s your first time to try this Seoul-grown café, then there are several items you need to try. Drink-wise, it’s all about the Tomnccino, a slush-like drink you can have with or without coffee. Go for the Caramel Tomnccino if you’re after the familiar or the Green Mint Choco Tomnccino if you want a change. For snacks, make sure to order the Italiano Pretzel and the Garlic Butter Bread—they’re truly worth the extra calories!

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  4. Pink Bird

    Location: South Triangle, Quezon City
    When it comes to how Instagrammable a place is, Pink Bird certainly ranks high on that scale. Given its traffic-stopping hot pink façade, you’d expect the inside of the place to be just as eye-catching—and luckily, it is. There are tons of murals to pose against, including amusing 3D paintings that encourage you to get creative. There’s even a hallway lined with paintings of famous Korean celebrities like Gong Yoo and Lee Jong Suk! Once you’ve had your fill of photo taking, sit down for Pink Bird’s milk teas, perhaps with a side of Bulgogi Kimbap or Cheese Gyeran Mari (rolled omelette). And if catch-up sessions with your best girls tend to go on and on, you’ll be pleased to know that Pink Bird actually stays open for 24 hours! (By then, you might want to supplement your snacks with Korean BBQ and soju cocktails…)

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  5. Kiss the Tiramisu

    Locations: Valero, Makati; Trinoma Mall, Quezon City
    Kiss the Tiramisu started as a dessert stand in Seoul’s bustling Hongdae area, before sailing to local shores in 2017. If you’re set on impressing a date, your friends, or your parents, the local version’s chic, luxurious interiors are definitely a good way to go. Think plush velvet seats to sink into, shiny marble counters to highlight your food flatlay, and tall, wide windows that let ample amounts of natural light in. Once you’ve settled into a table you deem Instagrammable enough (and it’s not hard, when every corner pretty much is), you’re going to want to peruse the menu to find the perfect little pick me up. Our tip? The Classic Tiramisu Cake and Classic Tiramisu Ice Cream are always foolproof choices, but for the ultimate treat, go for the 24K gold-topped Midas Touch. You’ll have to taste it to believe.

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  6. Blue Wonder Coffee & Bean Roastery

    Location: Bagong Ilog, Pasig; Cartimar, Pasay City
    With an award-winning barista at its helm and a state-of-the-art coffee laboratory associated with it, Blue Wonder Coffee & Bean Roastery is one of those places you wish you learned about earlier. Founder and expat Soo Yee Chang opened Blue Wonder as an extension of her culinary and barista academy to offer customers a selection of single origin beans sourced the world over. Put bluntly, you won’t get a mediocre cup of coffee here. Plus, if you’re truly passionate about coffee—and we mean passionate enough to make it a profession—Cooko Academy next to the Pasig location offers courses to help you become a barista or a café entrepreneur. While you’re at it, you can even source all the materials and equipment you need at this establishment, since it offers those, too!

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  7. Noriter

    Location: Taft Avenue, Manila
    If it’s a charming, whimsical coffeehouse you’re after, then Noriter, with its tagline of “Coffee and dream,” has you covered. The café’s warm brown walls make you feel like you’re in a log house in the middle of nowhere, while its low tables and floor cushions invite you to sit back and get cozy. Paper buntings, fairy lights, and random knickknacks decorate the space and complete the dreamy feel. Noriter’s location means it has a primarily young student clientele, but it’s also a firm favorite for K-pop fans of all ages to gather and hold events revolving around their favorite idols.

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  8. Jang Dabang

    Location: Escriva Drive, Pasig
    Jang Ga Nae in Ortigas is one of the older, more authentic Korean restaurants in Manila, serving up endless rounds of barbecue and banchan to the students and office workers that frequent the area. Jang Dabang is its lesser-known sibling—a tiny and discreet whitewashed café offering heaping bowls of refreshing and delicious bingsu. Word on the street is that its Matcha Bingsu may be the best there is, but the various Korean drinks on the menu are worthy trying, too. There’s sparkling Green Grape Ade for when the heat becomes unbearable, comforting Sweet Potato Latte for that irresistible autumnal feeling, and cups of Honey Citron Tea when you’re in need of a boost.

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  9. Ilahui Cafe

    Location: Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City
    If your idea of a perfect Sunday consists of getting some shopping done while recharging in between with a jolt of caffeine, look no further. Nestled inside Korean-inspired lifestyle store Ilahui, Ilahui Cafe is the perfect place to rest your feet after endless hours of scouring aisles for the perfect gift. If you’re brazen enough to do so, you could even browse while you wait for your order—or peruse the shelves while sipping on your Creamy Milk Tea or Peach Fruit Tea. Baked goodies are also up for grabs if you’re so inclined, and really, who doesn’t like snacking while shopping? *wink*

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  10. Zoo Coffee

    Locations: SM Megamall, Mandaluyong; Vertis North, Quezon City; Makati Avenue, Makati; McKinley Hill, Taguig; Newport, Pasay City
    Hanging out with giraffes and tigers is a common occurrence at the local outposts of this Korean chain, though you do have to settle for the stuffed toy variety. Aside from the animals scattered around the stores, Zoo Coffee’s interiors feature wood and wicker furniture and lush green trees to bring Mother Nature in. Browsing the menu? You can’t get any more authentic than drinks under the “I’m Korean” category, with the primary ingredient being ginseng. For something closer to home, there are all sorts of hot and cold drinks—lattes, smoothies, and the like—to choose from. Sweet tooth still not satisfied? The waffles, honey breads, and bingsus ought to do the trick.

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