Review by Stephen Speers, ETA ’15-’16
Restaurant Name: Venzamas
Foods Served: Coffee, Bingsu, Cheesecake
Restaurant Address: 경상북도 경주시 동천동 160
The establishment is in Gyeongju, on the opposite side of the river from downtown. To find the location, it is best to look it up on Naver (벤자마스). The easiest way to access the cafe is to take the taxi, which will take approximately 4-5 minutes from the train station and around 4,000 won (add 1-2 minutes from bus terminal). Or, you may take bus 70 to cross the bridge then walk around 5-10 minutes (best to keep your Naver app open to bus 70 if you choose this option).
Cost: Venzmas’ prices are a good deal considering how high end the establishment feels. Coffees and desserts are priced slightly more than chain cafes, ranging around 4,500-7,000 won for a coffee. Their cheesecake is only around 5,000 won!
Atmosphere / Decor
Ever want to feel like you own an expensive mansion in Beverly Hills, where you can sit inside or outside drinking a perfect cup of coffee? Perhaps the Fulbright budget doesn’t cut it for your Hollywood dreams but Venzamas is a close alternative. The cafe is very modern and contemporary (Okay, so I don’t understand the difference— but once you’re there, it won’t really matter. You’ll be too busy taking photos and selfies). The cafe is designed by a famous Korean architect. As you walk in, you first feel like you’re walking into a fine mansion. You’ll find the counter on the first floor with a display case filled with various styles of cheesecake. The main building has two floors, including a private room. There is also a very nice outside patio with what appears to be an empty little swimming pool filled with glass beads. Another small glass building is in Venzamas’ backyard, and it is the perfect spot for a small group to conquer. Due to the success of the establishment, there are also three cafes to the side of Venzamas imagined by the same brilliant designer. Whether or not you dine at these locations, you should definitely stroll by and see their unique designs.
While Venzamas is always busy, it is also QUITE large. If the main establishment is full, then there are three accompanying cafes designed by the same architect and their menus are similar. In my history, I’ve never waited longer than five minutes for my coffee and dessert (bingsu may take slightly longer).
The service is excellent. The menu is in both English and Korean (typical cafe konglish-ish). It’s very easy to order at the counter. They’ll give you a buzzer as per usual.
Venzamas is famous for its melon bingsu. That being said, I have not actually tried it! I can never pass up the opportunity for coffee and cheesecake. But, you should totally try it and I’ll include a photo of it so you can plot its demise (*I did not take this specific photo). You cannot go wrong with any of their coffees. There’s something for all coffeeholics— hot, iced, frozen. They have one coffee that’s loaded with marshmallows and my sweet tooth loves it. I strongly recommend the raspberry drizzled New York styled cheesecake to accompany your coffee. High class. You won’t regret it.
Why I always come back
This is the most famous cafe in Gyeongju and many tourists mark it as a stop after their visits to Cheomseongdae. I have surprised friends by taking them to this cool spot and they’re always quite impressed. I often go with teachers too— so even locals cannot pass this place up!