Korea: To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Visit Tartine in Seoul’s Itaewon

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Destinations, Featured, Food, Korea, Travel Photo Thursday | 41 comments

Welcome to week 233 (06/18/2015) of Travel Photo Thursday. This week we are enjoying over-the-top delicious pies from Seoul’s Tartine Bakery & Pie. Before I share the luscious photos, let me tell you a little story.

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Arriving in Korea in early 2001, I quickly realized that baked goods of any kind were difficult to come by, and what was available was not great. Eating out one day, the Korean waiter proudly asked me, in English, if I would like dessert. I perked up really fast, and with a smile that could have lit up six city blocks, I asked…”What do you have”? “Coke, orange, or copi, he answers.” Imagine my disappointment. My smile was like a balloon that had been pricked with a pin…totally deflated. BTW…copi is how many Koreans pronounce coffee. Not wanting to disappoint the poor waiter I chose the coffee, but what a let down. I was expecting cake and pie, not coke, fanta, or coffee!

Fast forward to 2008, and I’m in Itaewan (the section of Seoul that caters to the foreign crowd) having lunch with friends. They’re raving about a new pie cafe (the first in Korea) tucked away in a small alley two minutes away that we definitely had to try. I was game, although a bit apprehensive. I’d been disappointed with Korean baked goods on more than one occasion. Not so this time. The pies were amazing, and I don’t think I have ever eaten a piece of pie so fast!

Tartine quickly became popular with both foreigners and Koreans. In November 2012 they sold there ONE MILLIONTH retail pie, and that amazing number was doubled August 2014. Who would have thought that Koreans would ever have such a love affair with pie! With roots in Oregon and Korea you can read all about the owners on their website. 

Last weekend I was in Seoul, and decided to pick up some pie to take to a friends place. Making pie choices is not an easy decision, but someone has to step up!


How could I walk by???


Tartine, Seoul, Korea

Tartine Pie Cafe, Seoul, Korea

I oooed and ahhhed over these beauties for a minute, and they were strong contenders!


Lemon Meringue, Tartine Pie Cafe, Seoul, Korea

Lemon Meringue, Tartine Pie Cafe, Seoul, Korea


Then I spotted the pecan pie, and all was lost. I once traveled back from Laurentians in Quebec carrying not one but two full size pecan pies onto a crowded plane! My second choice was also in the case, but didn’t get picked up in this photo. I love cranberry, and when I saw the cranberry cheesecake pies I almost cried!


Pies in the Case, Tartine, Seoul, Korea

Pies in the Case, Tartine, Seoul, Korea


My choices, just before the lovely staff boxed them up to take away. The staff here are awesome! They didn’t mind me oooing and ahhing in front of the case for 10 minutes 🙂


My Pie Choices, Tartine, Seoul, Korea

My Pie Choices, Tartine, Seoul, Korea


The great thing about sharing is we each took half…win win…


Pecan and Cranberry ready to eat

Pecan and Cranberry ready to eat


And…with the first bite I was launched into heaven!

Travelers Tip

If you find yourself craving some western dessert while you’re in Seoul, I highly recommend that you hop on the subway…line 6. Give off at Itaewan Station, head out Exit 1. You’ll find Tartine in the second alley on the right. You can choose either the cafe pictured here, or directly across you can enjoy brunch, and of course the same awesome pies.

The hours listed on their website are Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. However, I was there on a Saturday afternoon around 1pm, and they were definitely open.

You can always phone: 02-462-9001

I love sampling traditional desserts when I travel, but when the options are limited I won’t turn down a good western style pie or cake. How about you?

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  1. My mouth was watering looking at those yummy deserts – you would think you were in Paris instead of Seoul with those delicacies.

    • Hi Sally…They are gorgeous to look at, and they taste great too!

  2. For some reason, I assumed that Koreans also have a sweet tooth and like all different types of dessert. Glad you have a really good one to go to for a quick pick me [email protected]

    • Hi Noel. Traditionally, there were not a lot of sweets available. There are some associated with specific holidays. Also, they have a lot of rice cookies, which are almost like puff wheat.

  3. They look delicious! I’m giving my daughter the directions – I know she’s been craving dessert ( and ranch dressing!)

    • Hi Jill…she will thank you! 🙂

  4. We’ve been so good back in the States – no crabs, no sweets. . .yadda hadda. . .yadda. I can’t tell you how many sweets we’ve eaten in Greece and how many wonderful bakeries we’ve visited to bring those sweets home by the bag or boxful. Things will change next week when we head back to Kirkland (or nothing will fit any longer)! Great post – love the pie photos, Nancie!

    • Hi Jackie…Yes, vacation can do that to you. Although, I find I usually walk it off. Since I won’t be traveling much (if at all) this summer, I am worried about putting on weight here in Korea. I’ve started walking 1.5 hours every morning. Hopefully, that will do the trick!

  5. Wow! I have never tried cranberry pie. As a matter of fact, that is new to me. I would like to try it (or that lemon meringue pie). Question. Here in Los Angeles, Korean bakeries are some of the best. What type of pastries are served in traditional Korean bakeries (if such a concept exists)?

    • Hi Ruth,

      Wow, I’m surprised that you have good Korean bakeries in LA. Traditionally Korean deserts are not sweet. Usually make from rice. Although there are exceptions. I’ll have to do a post on Korean traditional deserts.

  6. Oh my…I have a sweet tooth and these all look delicious! I will be having some sweet dreams tonight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Korean bakery around here either. Glad to know there’s one near you to satisfy the sweet cravings. That pecan pie has me drooling 🙂

    • Hi Mary. It’s great that a westerner has come in and opened such a great desert cafe! 🙂

  7. Lemon Meringue pie is a favourite with all our family. In fact I’ve made one because they are coming over for dinner tonight. But I never buy them when I am out – somehow they don’t ever measure up to the homemade variety.
    Happy travels and have a great weekenmd

    • Hi Jill. I hear you with the lemon meringue. I think a lot of people have their own special recipes and nothing else is quite the same.

  8. Nancie, From my time in Seoul, I know that Itaewon is the best place to get a western food fix…but pie?! They never had pie when I was there.

    • Hi Corinne. You need to come back, and we’ll eat pie together!

  9. You had me at lemon meringue! But the pecan tarts look delectable as well. Hope you have a lovely weekend Nancie.

    • Hi Kathy. The pecan was delicious, and is one that I can never pass on!

    • Hi Kathy. I can never pass up pecan!

  10. You had me hooked as soon as you mentioned Lemon Meringue. Could I walk by? That would be no… and I\’d make my second choice the Strawberry Rhubarb. OMG I\’m drooling.

    • Hi Lyn. Anyone who can walk by a pie shop must be a little crazy! 🙂

  11. A great find, Nancie. Hopefully, it’s part of a new trend, as it’s hard to escape global influences these days.

    I miss pecan pie from back in Australia, and I think I’ll have to learn to make one after viewing this post. There’s a good variety of cakes, etc, on offer here in Chile, but not these.

    • Hi Andrew. Making one could be lots of fun. Take some photos. 🙂

  12. Yum, I hear you when you say it is hard to come across sweets and cakes in some Asian countries. Lemon meringue for sure

    • Hi Paula. It is getting better, but often a disappointment. Thankfully, that is not the case with Tartine’s pies.

  13. Oh man, I so know the feeling. Sometimes you just want something that tastes like home, no matter how good the food is where you are. I understand the “I almost cried” too well! These pies look fabulous and it’s no wonder they’ve sold a million. My only problem would be choosing which kind. Maybe lemon meringue, it’s been ages. 🙂

    • Hi Betsy…I know the lemon meringue would be over the top delicious. I may have to try it the next time.

  14. Great article. Yes, certain cultures do not always provide sweets North Americans are accustom to. I know how good it can feel when you find something you have been really missing and like.

    • Hi Tom. Yes, that’s how I feel. I enjoy Korean food, but the meal never seems to be finished without the sweet.

  15. Those desserts look simply mouth-watering. I think I’m falling in love with Korean food!

    • Hi Irene. Your getting a good look at the Korean kind of western food here 🙂

  16. Yummmmmy! It does make me giggle a little to see pie in Korea. However… we love Korean food so why not? They look so tasty, but they are so photogenic too!

    • Hi Suzanne. I love Korean food, too. Living here, I eat it almost everyday. The one thing that’s always missing is the sweet!

  17. I know what you mean about sometimes feeling disappointed with what’s on offer. Just when you hope for something sweet and sinful, and you know it’s not going to be! However, it looks as if Seoul is taking on Continental flair when it comes to puds – they look mouthwateringly delicious … Yum!

    • Hi Jo. Seoul definitely has a lot to offer when it comes to international cuisine, and it’s getting better all the time.

  18. I love pie, and your photos look so yummy! My daughter just moved back to Seoul and is living/teaching in Itaewon so I’ll let her know about Tartine. (and check it out myself when I go to visit!)

    • Hi Shelley…These pies are fab. I’m sure your daughter will love them. Let me know when you’re in Seoul. We can grab a coffee and some pie!

  19. If Tartine had popped up in Malaysia while I was there, I would have been all over it. BTW, Malaysians also call coffee “kopi.” These pies look so delicious. Did you think that they were sweet enough? Coming from America, I felt like most of Asia definitely preferred their desserts not-so-sweet in the European style. One pie shoppe opened in Penang, and I was so excited to visit it. Alas, it was all savory meat pies, not a sweet one among them. Thank goodness I’m a fantastic baker or else I doubt I would have survived.

  20. Oh you got me at cranberry!

  21. All that stuff looks so, so, so good and made me want to go the bakery right now!

    • I know! I quite often go through Itaewon Subway Station on my way home, and as soon as I see Tartine’s ad I want to run up the alley and grab some pie!


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