A great sandwich: We’re still lookingOne of the most elusive beasts stalking Seoul’s culinary landscape is the decent sandwich. Even so, more and more places are getting into the act.
Case in point? “A Twosome Place.” This large, youth-focused joint has a high-visibility location in the heart of Seoul’s student quarter, bang on Sinchon Rotary. (On road signs, this area is romanized as “Sinchon Rot” ― an abbreviation unlikely to please the city fathers, should it ever be translated back to them.)
Outside, “Twosome’s” brand-line reads: “For tasty treats and double delights.” Hmmm. “Double delights?” I think not. The layout of this joint hardly makes it a suitable location for Mr. Lee to express his smoldering love for Ms. Kim, and is even less suited if he wants to cop a long, slow smooch. Which could explain why most of the diners when I visited on Sunday afternoon were female.
What we have is a large, open-plan place, high-ceilinged and well-lit, with tall windows overlooking the bustling rotary. In the center stand large glass counters showcasing the grub, while elsewhere are dinky, two-person tables. In the corners are computers set up for free Web-surfing, and on one wall there is even a set of headphones offering music samples. Bright drapes hang on the faux brickwork walls. Overall, it is an attractive, airy place with a somewhat European ambience.
So what of those “tasty treats?” A glance at the menu suggests that “A Twosome Place” may be trying to do too much. What is offered includes a full range of designer coffees ― there are eight espresso variations alone ― sandwiches, bakery products, freshly squeezed juices and even a small deli counter offering European cheeses, oils and mustards. Self-service is the order of the day, and the drill is efficient: You choose from the menu, order at the counter, and, after a short wait, your receipt number is displayed on the electronic scoreboard. Staff are smiley and friendly.
We order four sandwiches and a couple of juices. The cream mustard chicken, at 6,500 won ($5.65), is hot, served in a fresh, whole-grain bun. Chunks of chicken are mixed into a creamy grain mustard sauce, along with onions and a touch of red pepper. This proves a very tasty concoction, with the tangy sauce going well beyond what most Seoul sandwiches offer, flavor-wise. Beef and mozarella panini (5,500 won) offers thin slices of beef, seasoned with a dash of horseradish, as well as mozarella, olives and lettuce. Not bad, but might have been better hot. Herb sausage (3,800 won) is also served cold, in a white bun. The sausage is cut lengthways with a splash of bland mustard added; slices of lettuce, green pepper and sweet pickle complete the thing. I find it very bland indeed, but my 4-year-old daughter enjoys it.
Worst of the bunch by far is the bacon and potato wrap (5,500 won, for some bizarre reason). This is bits of dry, powdery spud and soft, ham-like “bacon” in an anemic soft tortilla wrap; you have been warned. With the exception of the last, I should add that the breads are good and the ingredients fresh, but caution that while the prices here are reasonable for Seoul sandwiches, their sizes make them suitable for a snack only.
An orange and citrus frappe (4,800 won), a concoction of juice and crushed ice, is tasty and very refreshing, as is the coconut frappe (4,800 won). For those with stronger tastes, Hoegaarden Wit beer and Becks lager are available.
Verdict: Frankly, this is not somewhere I’d make a point of travelling to, but if you are in the area ― and who isn’t, at one time or another? ― and looking for a light snack, A Twosome Place should do the job. Oh, and they open for breakfast, which could be handy after an all-nighter in the hundreds of pubs and clubs that dominate this allegedly educational district.
A Twosome Place
English: Some spoken.
Location: On Sinchon Rotary, in Sinchon. You can’t miss it.
Subway: Sinchon Station, line No. 2, exit 2.
Telephone: (02) 3142-5995.
Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight daily.
by Andrew Salmon