"In the beginning, it really was just a garage," says Kim. "I just meant to put in one coffee machine, and then it suddenly became something bigger."
In the traditional area of Bukchon, Garage 107 is a standard cafe by day, but it's one of the area's only lounges open till late (1 a.m.). It's become a place for locals to head out at night without having to trek to Gangnam or Hongdae.
The garage is decked out with disco balls, trophies and a good sound system.
Garage 107's open terrace is a draw -- on sunny days, movies or concert films are projected onto a large white wall.
Food is American-style diner food with dishes from ?5,000 ($4.50) to ?12,000 ($11).
Garage 107, 30-2 Jong-no-gu Gahoe-dong; +82 2 763 0015; 9:30 a.m.-1 a.m.
A new gastropub that brings a classic American touch to Korea, Hopscotch derives its name from "hops," an essential ingredient in beer and scotch.
"Everybody that comes in here says three things," says owner Bryan Do. "'Wow, I don't feel like I'm in Korea,' 'This has a really comfy feel' and 'It's kind of a hideout.'"
A collaboration between Californians Do and chef David Cho, Hopscotch has an impressively detailed menu, featuring American items such as duck frites (fries double-fried in duck fat, brisket bite (barbecue brisket in ciabatta), jambalaya and specialty salads.
Most of the ingredients come directly from Do's farm outside of Seoul.
But the staple of Hopscotch is beer.
The gastropub features brews on tap as well as a long list of bottled beer.
"I really wanted to promote craft beers in Korea, so we have seven on tap and we specifically make sure that four of those are Korean microbrewery beers," says Do.
While all of the beers can easily be found north of the river, Hopscotch features one of the most diverse selections in Gangnam.
Hopscotch, B/1 113-20 Nonhyeon-dong Gangnam-gu; +82 2 511 0145; Monday-Saturday; 5 p.m.-1 a.m., closed Sundays
Already famous among expats for its home brews, Magpie Brewing Co. opened its first brew shop a year ago and expanded with Magpie Basement, just across the alley, in April.
Though the Basement menu features fewer than 10 items, two beers and five variations on pizza, Magpie Basement has a steady stream of customers seeking an improvement on the watered-down, mass-produced beer of Korea.
"We started and still are very much focused on the beer," says co-owner Tiffany Needham. "We are not interior designers, we are not restaurateurs. We want to focus on our beer, the pale ale, the porter."
Of the only two beers on offer, the pale ale is the best (Magpie intends to add more beers soon).
Magpie Basement, 691 Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-dong; Tuesday-Sunday, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
In a nondescript alley just off Itaewon, Vault +82 is attracting an upscale clientele who appreciate the bar's minimal efforts at promotion (even its lack of exterior signage) since opening six months ago.
The surprisingly expansive two-story bar is modeled after an old American cinema and stocks an impressive collection of whiskey, including the Glenfarclas Family Cask (bottles start at ?1.7 million/$1,530), which is sold in only six other locations worldwide.