Feet-eating fish?

3 Oct

One of the most peculiar, yet enjoyable things we have done here in Seoul so far is visit Book & Spa Cafe (also known as Gallery & Book Cafe, also known as Rest with Book and Coffee) near Gangnam Station. We aren’t sure what the actual name is of the cafe and we aren’t sure the owner knows either. We can verify, however, that it is a cafe with books, a spa, and coffee.


Now this isn’t your typical cafe. First, you will notice the ever so popular “Self bar.”  With your purchase of a drink, you get a plate, a side of butter and  jam, and endless trips to the “self bar”.  Located at the self bar you will find a few toasters, a selection of different breads, and some hot tea and coffee you can just help yourself to while there.

the “Self Bar”

Now don’t be confused, the drinks aren’t extremely cheap (range from about 4,000-7,000 won) and the bread isn’t King Hawaiian or anything, but its a nice addition to a coffee shop from what I have experience in the States. Second, you can try a green yogurt drink or a sweet potato latte along with many other items. If you know me, you know I am a big fan of sweet potatoes, so this place just kept getting better!

By the way, Tyson and I would definitely recommend either drink for future visitors based on our experience.

Third, free wireless and a variety of music that is sure to soothe the soul. From Outkast to Norah Jones to Usher then the Beatles, what more can you ask for?

Last but not least, for a measly 2,000 won more, you can experience Dr. Fish!

What is Dr. Fish you might ask? Well, let me explain.

First, you start by walking over to the side of the cafe on a platform, taking off your shoes and having someone rinse your feet down in a little hole to get them nice and clean. Next, you can select either small fish (about 1 inch long) or medium size fish (3-5 inches long). Since it was our first time, the girl “recommended” we start with the small fish then move over to the larger fish (by recommended, I mean she pointed to the small tank first then pointed to the large one next, so we assume this was what she meant). One thing I am sure of: Tyson and I really need to work on our Hangul.

small fish tub

When you first put your feet in with the small fish, it tickles a little and feels like little air bubbles are popping up all around your feet. One thing I noticed is that they were going for my ankles instead of my feet….I guess I have more dead skin there? The small fish weren’t too intimidating and after a few minutes, you kind of forget what you are doing. If you want to have a more memorable experience, we recommend going to the other tub with larger fish.

and the bigger fish

Before even putting your feet in the tub, the fish are swarming all over, opening and closing their mouths, just waiting for a dead-skin dinner. Yum. If you have ever played the game “Gone Fishing,” imagine how that game works and then just substitute those fish for real ones and multiply the amount by 3 or 4. Thats pretty much what the fish look like as they swim around waiting for your feet. The moment your feet land, they are all over you. Seriously! I went in first and could hardly stand it. First it tickles a lot, then it feels like….well it feels like fish eating your feet! There isn’t really any other feeling to compare it to, at least that either of us have experienced before….

Tyson’s first dip

Tyson for dinner

gotta love this pedicure!

As we later found out, Doctor Fish is the name given to a certain type of fish that feed on dead skin and leave healthy skin to grow. These types of fish are found in spas all over the world, but they originally come from river basins primarily in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Apparently, if you want to save money on pedicures, you can buy some of these fish and toss them in an aquarium at your own house! Who would have known?

As a note to future visitors: let me say that the most difficult part about coming to this cafe was finding it! We had heard that this was a great place, but after a mix of directions from other people, we walked back and forth through Gangnam Station with no real idea of where to go. After a few questions and some buildings to look for, we finally saw the cafe from across the street. As many people here know, everything is in relation to buildings so if you are looking for some pretty good building directions, here they are:

1) Take any subway route from your place to Gangnam Station.

2) Once you get there, go through the underground mall to  exit #10, walk up the stairs and look up. You will see the big Pagoda building in front of you a few blocks down. Head towards that building.

Pagoda building (big red letters)

3) Once you get to the Pagoda building, look up again and you will see the big CGV building on the other side of the road. Dr. Fish is on your side of the road, directly across from the CGV building, so keep walking. The CGV building is just for reference, so don’t cross to that side of the street.

4) You will pass a Krispy Kreme and then the next building is Dr. Fish. However, on the outside of the building on the doorway, it says “rest with book and coffee”, but don’t let that confuse you. You are in the right spot.
If you get to “Teenie Weenie”….you have gone too far!

doorway to Dr. Fish

5) Walk down the hallway a second, find the elevator or stairs and go up to the 2nd floor. Exit, turn to the left and walk down the hallway again. You will see a sign that says “Gallery & Book Cafe.” Enter and find yourself a table!

Once you are ready to order, go up to the counter, figure out which drink you want and ask to add the Dr. Fish for an extra 2,000 won. If it is busy, you might have to wait for awhile. When we went, we were able to take care of some work, enjoy our coffee and free bread and then we walked right up to the tubs.

By the way, if you want more jam, you just bring your container back and they will refill it for you 🙂

* Alternate routes: If you come from the Sinnonhyeon Station, you can take exit #6 and walk down a few minutes and once you pass Teenie Weenie (a clothing store with a big bear out front), it will be your next building. If you come from Gangnam Station and take exit #12, you can walk straight towards the CGV building and there is a crosswalk that leads almost directly over to the building where Dr. Fish is located.  The front of the building looks like this from the other side of the street:

On this sign, it says “Book and Spa Cafe”

If you are in visiting Seoul or live in the area, I would definitely recommend a trip to this multi-name cafe. Dr. Fish was cheap, the drinks were tasty and you can’t beat free bread and butter. Tyson and I had a good time and we hope you can enjoy this feet-eating frenzy sometime, too!


10 Responses to “Feet-eating fish?”

  1. Barbara Jones October 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Staci, I think I’ll stick to my pedicure/reflexology with Ezy, but thanks for the info!!

    • stacigrayj October 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

      haha, I would take Ezy in addition to the fish, if I had the option! My feet still need a pedicure, but for less than $2….you can’t really complain.

  2. Lindsey October 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Yessss!!!! This is what I was telling you that Boston had done in the Philippines. Glad y’all found a place over there. Let’s add that to the list of places to go when I visit b/c as a Jones woman, no trip is complete w/o fishing. Or something like that.

    • stacigrayj October 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Lindsey, you will have to give me Boston’s info. We are thinking about going to the Philippines for Christmas….. 🙂 I totally forgot he was there for awhile.

      • Lindsey October 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

        And when you said y’all were thinking about that for Christmas I spaced that he lived there too. For a while, yes…like 3 years. haha. I’ll send you his info, he’ll be a great source of info

  3. Erin October 7, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    That picture of Tyson’s First dip is so funny! Exactly what I think I would do!

    • thanrahan October 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

      I think it is worth the flight over here just to make sure you’d have the same reaction! 🙂

  4. Caroline October 19, 2012 at 11:49 pm #

    I just heard a piece on the news about how those fish can carry an antibiotic resistant strand of bacteria!!! Who knew you were living life on the edge??!


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