Not the state. Well, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been.
Le Alaska is a small bakery in downtown Seoul. A friend of mine from work recommended the place, raving about their croissants. Even though Korea has a ton of big brand “bakeries” that produce a serious amount of bread and pastries every day (one of them is called Paris Croissant, ha ha), they are neither fresh nor tasty in my opinion. All I taste is flat starch and sugar, nothing else. I had been craving some good bread and had to check out this place.
To get there, I had to walk past blocks and blocks of high-end boutiques and cafes with marble walls and gold plated tea cups — which didn’t necessarily paint the right picture for this supposedly cozy place. But once I turned around the corner into a small alleyway, there was the bright yellow spot on the first floor of a red brick building, and all of sudden I was transferred to somewhere completely different, off of the busy, high-fashion grid of the city.
Their logo is a crown (or a guy?) decorated with loaves of bread. They apparently make everything from a baguette to a sandwich.
The entrance was being guarded by a fuzzy sea lion. Cute.
The interior was soft-lit with lots of sunlight and I could see everything going on in their completely open kitchen. A guy was kneading some dough, and next to him a couple of ladies were busy whipping something. Right besides the kitchen, there were rows of yummy looking goodies.
I wanted to taste everything but obviously had to limit myself to a reasonable amount. It was really hard to decide, but after some deliberation, I left the place with a full bag of my final selections. And of course, couldn’t wait to get home and had to stop at a cafe to taste some of them.
The croissant was unbelievably flaky and light, perfectly buttery at every single layer. The glazed twisty brioche was super soft, almost like cotton candy, with bites of tangy cranberry pieces complimenting the sweet glaze. And overall, they both tasted incredibly fresh. There was this additional sweetness to the added sugar that made it stand out, almost like the difference between distilled water and chlorinated tap water.
Bread eating continued back at home throughout the afternoon.
Two favorites from the bag: The brioche with the nuts was the best one. I don’t know how the heck they do it, but the nuts were toasted to perfection, with the incredibly deep nutty flavor getting richer as I chewed on. (Reminded me of Wanka’s bubble gum with the ever lasting flavor) God, I can still taste the hazelnut in my mouth.
The two owners each graduated from Ecole De Pâtisserie De Tokio and Le Cordon Bleu’s Pâtisserie and Baking Program. After my first visit, I’ve gone back five times and sometimes they run out of bread by late afternoon. They also sell espresso drinks and fresh fruit juices. Prices run anywhere from 50 cents to three dollars — 700 to 3500 won in the local currency. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m, closed on Sundays. The exact address is Shinsa-dong 653-9, Kangnam-gu, Seoul, and the phone number is +82 2 516-5871.
And all gone before dinner. (My family helped.)