I am on Instagram a lot these days, and the photos of gourmet donuts have been killing me. Of course, Korea has Dunkin’ and Krispy Kreme, but Seoul really hasn’t had the same movement toward more creative independent donut shops that other big cities have seen.
Finally, a couple of months ago, I decided to check out the Korean language donut tag and see what I could find. Other than some really adorable donuts made by somebody’s dad in his home kitchen in Daegu, the only thing that popped up was Ferry Roasters.
With flavors like Earl Grey and coconut, I was already sold on making the hike up to Gyeongridan eventually, but then I spotted the coconut cream Vienna coffee and grabbed my bag.
Ferry Roasters is also known for their donut-in-of-a-cup-of-coffee coffee, but I personally am baffled by this recent trend of putting food on top of/in drinks instead of on a plate (it would seem I’m not alone there). I mean, technically you could have a donut in your coffee cup at any place that sells both donuts and coffee.
But the donut flavors sounded intriguing and the coconut cream Vienna was the first of its kind I’d ever seen. So I slowly schlepped the 30 minutes uphill to get to the shop. I wasn’t disappointed.
The pricing on the box of “seasonal” (so named because the flavors change from time to time — when I went, the flavors were berry, coconut and Earl Grey) mini donuts is a little whacky, at 10,000 won for 9 bite-sized (two-bite?) donuts, but when you consider that you’d pay about the same amount for two or three pastries at Paris Baguette, it doesn’t feel too bad.
And they are really good — the same cake donut base for every flavor, but with enough well-set icing to make them stand well apart from each other. I was kind of surprised, to be honest, that they managed to pack so much flavor into their icings, because icing tends to just taste like lots of sugar + a hint of whatever. The berry had a nice balance of tartness, the coconut was perhaps a bit too much coconut when combined with the coconut cream coffee (which I reckon means they’d be just right with a latte), and the Earl Grey proved once again that Earl Grey really belongs in baked goods, not teacups (hate the tea itself — love it in a cake or scone).
I was pleased as punch to find they’d used an appropriately bitter coffee blend to go with the overly sweet coconut cream. The girl behind the counter instructed me not to stir the coffee (I guess the spoon was just for looks) but to drink it as it was, and she was right. If I had stirred it, I think the extra bitter coffee and super sweet cream would have just cancelled each other out, but sipping a little of each at a time created a pleasant contrast.
Peeking at their Instagram just now, I can see they still have the same flavors of donuts in the seasonal box. I’ve also spotted green tea, Oreo mint, buttermilk and Nutella donuts on their Instagram, so hopefully they’ll change it up soon.
Ferry Roasters also offers cinnamon sugar and basil parmesan cake donuts, which you can buy separately or in a mixed box for 6,200-7,500 won. Their cafe options are great, too, although I can’t vouch for anything other than the Vienna: flat white, flat pink, flat honey, balsamic ginger honey ade and a salted caramel latte, among others. I’d go back, even discounting the donuts, just to try a few of those. Although maybe not until monsoon season is over….
서울시 용산구 이태원동 225-22
225-22 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-10pm; Closed Mondays