[Yori!] Review of EXO’s Pop Up Store and Cafe “BWCW”

Yori! is Soompi’s special series on Korean culture and cuisine. Yori means “cooking” or “cuisine” in Korean, and the series will offer simple Korean recipes and honest reviews of the hottest Korean restaurants and cafes. Ever watched your favorite actor chow down on food and wondered if you could cook it up yourself? Or how about wanting to know not only what your Oppa’s new restaurant looks like, but also if the food actually tastes good? Yori! will be your portal to the Korean food scene.

The first cafe that Yori! will review is BWCW (Boy Who Cried Wolf), EXO‘s very own pop up store and cafe. This cafe review was requested by EXO fans who were curious about what BWCW had to offer. When I heard that the BWCW would only be open for a a limited time, I grabbed halves in unison (who happened to be in the area) and hurried over to Seoul’s trendiest street, Garosu Street in Sinsa-dong, to check it out. There we were able to taste their best dishes, take loads of pictures, and ask the manager a few questions.

BWCW Quick Facts:

  • Opened second week of August. Will close early October for a two month run.
  • An average of 500 customers come to the BWCW. On a good day or during the weekend, over 1000 people will come in.
  • 40% of the customers are foreign fans. During the opening most of them were from China, but now there are more Japanese fans on a daily basis.
  • This is SM Entertainment‘s second pop up store. The first was with Girls’ Generation earlier this year. 
  • BWCW sells exclusive merchandise that can’t be found anywhere else.
  • Following their “XOXO” first album, BWCW’s theme is “School.”

yoribwcw_front

BWCW is located off off Garosu Street, Seoul’s trendiest street. You can’t see it from the main street, so only those who are looking for it will be able to find it. On the outside it looks a little plain, nothing flashy. The BWCW signs are in multiple places but from a single glance you can’t tell that it’s a K-Pop store. When you get closer you can see EXO’s special font on the window. Also at the window is the resident kitten who might be an EXO fan, who gets his lunch from the occasional generous customer. According to the map there are four levels to the store, including the basement.

If SM does one thing right, it’s picking good looking people to represent them. The part timers at the store were not associated with SM but they sure were cute. We asked one tall and handsome (but slightly bored looking) assistant if he was a trainee and he said he was just a part-timer. 

yoribwcw_store

If I could describe the clothing that BWCW sells, I would best describe it as a “preppy Ed Hardy.” You have baseball caps and sweaters that look kind of sporty, but then right next to it you have a motorcycle jacket with a scary looking wolf on the back. They are really taking their “Wolf” and “School” concepts very seriously, although I’m not sure if the two actually goes together. 

yoribwcw_wall

The cool thing about BWCW is that the members, all twelve of them, actually came by the store before its opening and doodled all over the walls. Sometimes they leave endearing messages to their fans but mostly they just make fun of each other. It makes me happy to imagine the boys of EXO running around the store with their permanent markers, snickering to themselves as they write jokes about Kris’ (lack of) artistic skills or Suho’s (lack of) height. 

yoribwcw_classroom

The boys apparently had free reign over the store because nothing was free from their graffiti. It actually made the “classroom” section more realistic. Some of them are clearly better drawers than the other. Also, I have no idea why it’s D.O.’s picture next to Lay’s message. 

Next…so how much do the merchandise cost? 

yoribwcw_gym

BWCW even has a “gym” with basketballs and a punching bag. The mannequin reminds me of an EXO member, I just can’t put my finger on who…

yoribwcw_lockers

The main point of the gym room is the lockers. Each member has his own locker (I know, I cut out Kris. Check out my Twitter for his picture.) which he personalized himself. Fans can go upstairs and buy a card to write a message on. Later, winners will be randomly drawn from the lockers to win autographed merchandise. 

yoribwcw_dorm

The “Dorm Room” was my favorite, mostly because it looked so cozy. I liked the shirt with EXO’s faces as cartoons, though I’m not sure if I could wear it, and it looks like Tao put his autograph on it. If you look at the bottom right picture it has names of three EXO members and their marked height. Xiumin is at the bottom, then Chanyeol, and then Suho? This Suho member must be a giant………..

yoribwcw_stuff

Every level of the store had exclusive merchandise to sell, especially the basement called “The Library.” There you could find everything you needed for school, all with EXO’s name and faces on them. How much did everything cost? The cheapest hat was about $30, a backpack was around $250, and the shirts were somewhere in between. It looked pricey for someone who isn’t an EXO fans, but to Exotics I’m sure everything there was priceless. 

Next…this wouldn’t be a Yori! post if there wasn’t any food to review…

yoribwcw_menu

The cafe has a simple chalkboard menu. I used my limited EXO knowledge to figure out if there was a correlation with the food and the name of member, but I came up with nothing. Maybe an EXO fan will know why Sehun is the squash salad and Kris is a blueberry fruit latte. According to the manager, the EXO burger and the Luhan chicken sandwich were the more popular items. He also recommended the Xiumin carrot cake. I took his advice and ordered the burger and the carrot cake, plus a Chanyeol strawberry latte. 

yoribwcw_theorder

The menu isn’t cheap, but it isn’t as atrociously expensive as I suspected it would be. For the three items I ordered, it came out to be 20,000 KW or roughly $18 USD. I was getting hungry so I was looking forward to eating the burger. I knew better than to expect too much because, let’s face it, no one is coming to BWCW for the food. 

yoribwcw_food1

When the food arrived, the first thing I did was sip the strawberry latte because I was thirsty. I was immediately disappointed. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting lukewarm milk mixed with squishy strawberries. It was neither sweet nor refreshing. Not quite disheartened yet, I took a bite out of the burger and needed a few minutes to figure out how I felt about it. It wasn’t a bad burger, but it wasn’t great. The meat patty was alright, more or less what you can expect from Korea, and the vegetables were a little limp but not unsatisfying. Maybe it was the cheese or the lack of condiments but I came to the conclusion that I was not impressed with this burger, even if it had the neat BWCW stamp on the top bun. 

yoribwcw_food2

Xiumin’s carrot cake tasted the best out of the three, but I was disappointed with the packaging. I prefer it when my cafes at least pretend like they baked their desserts themselves.I told myself to keep my expectations low but I ended up being disappointed anyway. Maybe I should have kept my expectations even lower. 

Overall, if you’re an EXO fan in Korea, you must check out BWCW simply for the fact that it sells exclusive and limited EXO merchandise. If you’re not an EXO fan, then you have no reason to go to BWCW, especially not because of the food. 

Have questions about Noona’s BWCW experience? Leave a comment below! We’re also taking requests for Korean food recipes or restaurant/cafe reviews. Talk to Noona! Leave a comment, follow her on Twitter, or send your questions/feedback via email.