Shinsegae’s Sweet Park emerges as magnet for dessert lovers

People visit Sweet Park on the basement floor of  Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam branch in southern Seoul, March 13. Korea Times photo by Park Jin-hai

Before the doors of Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam branch even swing open, a dedicated crowd forms a line outside Sweet Park, the department store’s recently launched dessert haven.Their eyes are on Beton bakery’s heavenly salted butter rolls. These irresistible pastries, warm, buttery and with just the right touch of salt, have captivated the taste buds of Seoul’s food enthusiasts.Beton, originating from Seoul’s trendy Seongsu-dong neighborhood, has gained popularity for its salted butter rolls, particularly among Korea’s Generation MZ, encompassing both Millennials and Gen Z. This acclaim has led the bakery to be part of Sweet Park, the city’s latest foodie hotspot.A bakery employee make their way to the end of the line, gently informing those waiting at the back that there’s a chance they might not get their hands on their preferred variety of the sought-after rolls, due to high demand and a limit of four per person. One of them is Park Hye-seon, 41, near the end of an ever-growing line after noticing the crowd waiting for the bakery’s bread.“I really like trying something new and I don’t mind the long line. I’ve already heard about failed attempts to secure this bread, so I came prepared,” she says.The queues, sometimes stretching over 100 meters, are evidence of the soaring popularity of Sweet Park, Shinsegae Department Store’s expansive dessert hub. Since opening its doors on Feb. 15, Sweet Park has become a magnet for dessert aficionados, drawing over 1.3 million visitors in just under a month. This surge in interest has seen the department store’s dessert sales skyrocket by 202 percent compared to the same timeframe last year, highlighting Sweet Park’s status as the premier destination for sweet treats in the country.

Nestled on the basement floor of Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam branch, adjacent to Seoul Express Bus Terminal, Sweet Park sprawls over 5,300 square meters, housing some 43 delicacy brands.Under the motto of a “Dessert theme park never seen before,” the dessert oasis features the first Korean outlets for international names such as Pierre Marcolini, Mille & Un and Gariguette. Belgium’s luxury chocolatier Pierre Marcolini, celebrated as the world’s best pastry chef, opens his first Seoul outpost here, bringing his bean-to-bar philosophy and artisanal chocolates directly to Korean customers.As an advocate of the “bean-to-bar” movement, Marcolini personally handpicks the finest cacao beans from farms around the world and gets directly involved in the whole process of chocolate-making, from roasting the cacao beans to molding them to solid bars.Kim Ji-hoon, a manager for Pierre Marcolini Seoul, said he didn’t expect such rave reactions from Korean customers.“In neighboring Japan, Marcolini is already a star and has many followers, but we didn’t expect the same, because he is relatively lesser-known here. However, when the store opened here, it was a whole different story,” he said. “On the first day of business, the most popular six-piece chocolate set sold out really fast and within three days, all our best-selling selections ran out. So we had to quickly restock by air.” Gariguette, a viral dessert from Japan, has made its Seoul debut to much fanfare in Sweet Park as well.Its signature Napoleon is a mille-presse, a round take on the classic mille-feuille, encasing strawberries and custard cream in layers of delicate pastry. Customers have the option to mix and match two flavors, such as Earl Grey cream with apricots or pistachio cream with raspberries.

As customers wait for their order number to be called, the store’s open kitchen offers a transparent view of the dessert’s preparation, allowing everyone to witness the meticulous crafting process.Soi Park, 34, alongside her older sister Jeong-ha, arrived 20 minutes before the department store’s opening to secure Beton’s sought-after salted butter rolls before heading to Gariguette.”Seeing the crowd queued up for Beton, I joined without even knowing what the line was for. Then I discovering it was for the famous bread. It’s interesting how the sight of a long queue attracts more people, extending the line even further,” Jeong-ha said. “Having all these sweets in one spot is truly a blessing… Its proximity to the terminal makes it convenient for travelers to grab and go with their desserts.”Echoing her sister, Soi added, “I came here because I wanted to try the trending ones. People tend to eat with their eyes first nowadays, so I’m thrilled to try Gariguette’s strawberry mille-presse,” as she took photos 카지노사이트킹 of the Japanese delicacy.

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