Last week I was having dinner with some friends in Itaewon (foreign district in Seoul, most people speak English there and they have every/any type of restaurant you could ever want) at a Thai place when one of them commented on a cookie they had before we had met up that night. Doesn't sound very exciting, right? But they kept talking about this cookie and raving about this place where they bought said cookie. If you know me, you know I like to eat, and I really really like to eat things that are created with more than one cup of sugar or butter or preferably both. So after dinner we all decide to find this cookie place and figure out if it's really worth the rave review, or if our friend is just being a dramatic cookie lover.
Turns out it was well worth the five minute explanation of a double chocolate chunk cookie. This place, Ben's Cookies, could be easily missed if you weren't really looking around for it. It's a tiny little bright red storefront less than half a mile from the subway station on the main road in Itaewon. Let me preface the rest of this post by saying two things. First, dessert here in Korea leaves a lot to be desired as far as I've experienced. They put sugar in things that don't really beg sugar (loaves of bread, milk, etc.) and they leave sugar out of things that absolutely require it (hot chocolate mix, cakes, cookies). So dessert here is weird, it's either red bean flavored (which I actually don't mind) or some sort of floury texture with the consistency of a ball of chewy paste. Delicious. And second, I didn't know that Ben's Cookies was a chain until I looked it up online. I'm still blogging about it because it's delicious and every foreigner in Korea who loves sugar and dessert should know about it, but the fact that it's a chain just makes it seem less special. Okay, moving on.
To find Ben's Cookies you want to come out of Itaewon Station from exit #2. This is what the exit looks like from the outside.
Immediately after exiting the station there will be a big Holly's Coffee on the left (not pictured) and this will be your view directly ahead. You'll walk straight for maybe 5 minutes, cross one street with a crosswalk but mostly it's just walking along this side of the main street in Itaewon.
And if you aren't paying attention you'll easily walk right past it. The storefront is super small, but it's bright red, so it stands out a bit during the day. There's only room for about 3-4 people inside the store where you can order and pay, but you can see all of the cookies from outside in their display case.
They put fresh cookies in this display case every 10 minutes or so, it seems. We stood around for a while and I noticed one girl inside was just constantly replacing and adding fresh cookies. When you get them they're warm and buttery and delicious. Immediately after finishing one (or three, if you're anything like me) you feel this extreme sense of guilt and promise yourself you'll do extra time on the treadmill come Monday. But who are we kidding. The cookie choices are awesome, too. I tried a few different ones (yes, I've been there twice, and in those two trips have eaten a combined five cookies - I'm sick, I know) and I think I've found my favorite. The coconut cookie is fa-mazing. It's like a big macaroon (no, not the French macaron type). Other options are double chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, milk chocolate, some orange/chocolate one... the rest are not important. Seriously, if you go, just get the coconut cookie.
They wrap all of your cookies separately (which is embarrassing when you buy four). They sell them by weight, usually around 3,000 won ($3.00 or less) per cookie. They also set boxes of cookies, 7 for 20,000 won and another option I don't remember. Yeah they're a bit steep, but so worth it. I have a funny feeling my slightly intoxicated Itaewon self will be frequenting this cookie stand whenever I'm out in the area. Also not helpful that my friend Matt just moved about a fifteen minute walk from the place. At least I joined a gym.
Ben's Cookies originated in London in the 80's, but has since spread to strange Asian and Middle Eastern places. They have storefronts in the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Korea, Kuwait, and Singapore.