Although you may be more familiar with Innisfree’s BB creams than its lattes, the Korean cosmetics chain has opened a surprisingly tasty spinoff, the Innisfree Green Cafe, on Nanjing Dong Lu Pedestrian Street. It's the biggest location yet and caters to its very devoted Chinese following, serving specialty Jeju-inspired drinks and desserts alongside cosmetics.
The building is spread over three floors, the cafe on the upper two levels. We stepped into the Innisfree Green Cafe and were greeted by an abundance of greenery, a palette of soothing earth tones, water features, and accents of wood and volcanic rock.
Our favorite dessert by far was their best-selling Mango Jeju Cloud Snow-Shaved Ice (RMB50), which struck the perfect chord with the milkiness of the shaved ice and the sweet tang of the mango. The layer of Yuzu sorbet on the bottom rounded out the flavor with a fresh and slightly bitter touch of citrus. As pretty as it is delicious, the mango shaved ice arrives topped with a cloud-like puff of cotton candy that deflates when you pour the mango syrup (served on the side) over the top. Truth be told, this is one of our favorite frozen treats in the city.
Equally Instagram-worthy but slightly less flavorful, the Pure Green Tea Jeju Hallasan Snow-Shaved Ice (RMB54) was arrived at our table billowing smoke, thanks to a piece of dry ice inside the volcano-shaped dish. With shaved milk-ice, green tea jelly, pistachios, and a drizzle of green tea syrup, the green tea shaved ice was enjoyable but wasn't as strong a dessert compared to its mango counterpart.
The Green Tea My Jeju Hallasan Cake (RMB40) fell flat. It came with two piping tubes of Milk Custard and Green Tea icing for DIY cake decorating, and while we love the idea, the flavor (and our motor skills) were lacking. On a similar note, the Green Tea Cranberry Jeju Olle Cake (RMB12), a cake pop, was rather dry and short on flavor.
As for drinks, we highly recommend the Jeju Honey Sparkling Green Grape and Jeju Honey Sparkling Mango (both RMB34). The ultra-refreshing drinks are served in a beaker-like tumbler and are comprised of a light, clear soda with a layer of fruit concentrate at the bottom.
A richer but equally delightful option is the Iced Cloud Chocolate Jeju Green Tea Latte (RMB34). The drink had a layer of ganache-like chocolate coating the bottom of the cup, topped up with milk and "garnished" with a snowball of cotton candy. Served separately is a carafe of concentrated green tea syrup that, when poured over top of the cotton candy, infuses the latte with its signature green tea flavor. Innisfree sources its green tea from its own tea fields in Jeju Island, so the tea itself is high-quality and packs a wonderful, full-bodied flavor. While we enjoyed the novelty of the Cloud Chocolate latte, we'd opt for the classic Jeju Green Tea Latte (RMB32) for unadulterated green tea latte goodness.
Overall, we highly recommend the Innisfree Green Cafe for the drinks and the mango shaved ice but will steer clear of the cakes the next time we go. This cafe is perfect for a relaxing afternoon catching up with friends to enjoy the uniquely relaxing atmosphere. Also, customers receive a free DIY cardboard phone speaker with each order. As gimmicky as it was, the closet DIY-er in us loved it.
What: Innisfree Green Cafe
Where: 2-3/F, Hongyi Plaza, 299 Nanjing Dong Lu (near Tianjin Lu)
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