Fell + Cole: A little scoop of San Francisco in Seoul

Fell + Cole: A little scoop of San Francisco in Seoul

Jesus Juice or Hokey Porky, there's an ice cream just for you at this innovative new parlor
Fell+Cole, located in Hongdae, is named after Fell and Cole streets in San Francisco.

It's ice cream -- but not as you know it.

"I can have my little San Francisco here,” says Ho-June “Tristan” Choi, the owner of Fell + Cole, a small ice cream shop on a quiet road away from Hongdae’s familiar club crawl. 

Fell + Cole opened this past July and claims to be the first in Seoul to offer artisanal ice cream made in small batches using local and organic ingredients, free from stabilizers or additives.

The business of dessert 

Fell+coleFell + Cole owner Ho-June “Tristan” Choi is the Willy Wonka of ice cream.
A Seoul native and a businessman by trade, Choi received his Bachelor’s in hotel management at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and followed that with an MBA at the University of San Francisco.

While studying for his business degree, Choi lived at the intersection of Fell and Cole, in the Northern Panhandle near the eastern end of Golden Gate Park. It was there that Choi made small batches of ice cream for his friends and hatched a plan to open his own shop. 

I left my heart in ...

Choi's love for San Francisco  infuses the entire store: Florence + the Machine or Mumford & Sons plays from the speakers while Michael Schwab’s iconic graphic prints of the Presidio, Alcatraz, Muir Woods, and other Bay Area landmarks hang on the walls.

Most importantly, you can taste San Francisco in every bite of ice cream. 

The store draws from the popularity of gourmet ice cream shops like Bi-Rite and Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco's Mission district. 

Like Humphry Slocombe, Fell + Cole offers many of the same flavors including Jesus Juice -- a sorbet made from Coca-Cola and red wine -- Strawberry Szechuan sorbet and Vietnamese coffee ice cream.

The store also captures the whimsy of the Bay area with flavors like Hokey Porky, a candied bacon ice cream with hints of cinnamon ,and the CaVaSu, named after its three main components: caramel, vanilla and broken bits of sugar cone.

Organic and honest

Choi tries to maintain the organic and local tradition that has come to typify much of San Francisco cooking to Korea. However, he says he has run into difficulties making his ice cream 100 percent organic.

“It’s impossible to find organic cream in Korea -- I just didn’t feel right saying it was organic,” says Choi. “Some people say that’s too honest when I tell them that we are as organic as possible.” 

Accordingly, the menu changes according to whatever is in season or wherever Choi draws inspiration. As a way of keeping his customers in the loop with the changing menu, Choi regularly Tweets and updates his Fell + Cole Facebook page about the day’s menu and upcoming flavors. 

Fell+coleFell+Cole's strawberry and balsamic vinegar ice cream, made from fresh strawberries.

The menu

On a recent visit, the menu featured a strawberry balsamic ice cream that was at turns sweet and almost savory, and the Fuzzy Summer, made with fresh summer peaches from Daegu.

The most delightful and surprising example of transforming local flavors into ice cream, however, was the Perilla, made from the green, heart-shaped leaves (깻잎) patrons are undoubtedly more accustomed to wrapping around pieces of grilled pork belly. 

“My favorite is the burnt salted caramel,” said a customer from Portland. Another patron, a Korean woman in her 20s, chose the Honey Lavender.

But because Choi only makes six-liter batches, it’s unclear when a flavor, once it’s sold out, will be making a second appearance.

Some flavors, like the iApple sorbet made from the Korean green apple known as aoli, may not be available again until next seasons harvest, so be sure to take home a pint of your favorite flavors.  

One scoop –- or dip –- of ice cream costs 3,900, two 7,400, and three 9,200. A pint costs 11,000. 

408-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울시 마포구 서교동 408-1 );+82 70 4411 1434; Sunday-Thursday noon -10 p.m., Friday-Saturday noon-midnight; blog.naver.com/fellncole

More on CNNGo: 5 best cupcake shops in Seoul 

Alex Jung is a food and travel writer currently living in Seoul. A graduate of Columbia University and a 2011 Fulbright Scholar, he has written for Salon, Budget Travel, Prestige and Yonhap, among other publications.

His love for food is only limited by the capacity of his stomach.

Read more about Alex Jung