Recently I visited a small hookah…facility (? not sure what to call a hookah place) in Hongdae. The facility must get most of its business from word of mouth because the location was pretty hidden. It was located in a nondescript building in an unpopular alley in Hongdae. After you find the building there is a closed door that is painted in all kinds of colors that leads you to believe the facility is closed, but after opening the door and going down the stairs to the basement you find yourself at the entrance of 나비도 꽃이었다 꽃을 떠나기 전에는…which translates to “the butterfly was a flower until it went away.” Not sure on the origin of the name, but I’m sure there’s an interesting story in there somewhere.
Anyways once you get inside you are in a darkly lit room with a shallow pool in the center. Around the pool are small sitting areas where groups ranging from 2 to 10 people gather to smoke hookah, eat and drink wine and cocktails. About half of the seating is on the ground level where you can sit on cushions. The other half is on these makeshift stairs…which creates different levels that section off different sitting areas.
I have to say that this place was pretty polarizing …when I went with a group of four half of the group really loved the dark smokey atmosphere, the other half almost fell asleep. Josh is 6 feet tall and he was uncomfortable sitting on the floor in the small area. Personally I have no problem sitting on the floor and found the atmosphere so strange and relaxing. Depending on the crowd when you visit the ambiance can range from quite conversations to drums and perhaps even dancing and guitar playing.
Hookah pricing was average for Korea standards (₩10,000/$10). Usually there is a small charge for new coals but we were given them for free. While sitting back and enjoying the hookah I was surprised to see that they offered quite a variety of food options. There was Korean food (dukk bokki), nachos and even Indian curry. Already full from a prior dinner, we didn’t order any food so I cannot speak for the tastiness of the food served here.
I would be happy to come back to “the butterfly was a flower until it went away” and I would be curious to try the food options along with the hookah. If you enjoy hookah I think this would be worthwhile to visit…if not then I would avoid this place!