Who Seek: A Dessert Cafe Worth the Drive
It’s easy to get complacent about dessert.
After a great meal, on a lazy summer afternoon, or anytime, really, we often settle for the classics: the ice creams, cakes, and pies of the sweet-tooth universe.
So why not shake the dessert game up a bit?
We found the place to do just that.
Who Seek, located in Chantilly and opened in April 2018, is a Korean-style dessert and coffee shop that offers a new and exciting approach to the world of creative, tantalizing desserts, specialized coffee and tea drinks.
Anchored between a popular Korean BBQ joint and a bustling Dim Sum shop, Who Seek appears, at least at first glance, to be a small take-out shop. As you enter, you’re enveloped in an all-black, ultra-modern lobby that exudes an uber-cool hipster vibe. Guided by velvet ropes (the night club-feel is unmistakable), you find yourself in front of gorgeous back-lit signs that offer a stunning visual presentation of drinks and desserts.
It makes ordering practically painless.
But if you do have questions, and you likely will (especially if it’s your first visit). No problem: the staff’s eager to help. Like the shop’s overall aesthetic, the ordering process is calm and low-key. Curiosity is welcome, even encouraged, with no pressure to hurry orders.
The desserts are focused on traditional Korean offerings (though an assortment of Belgian waffle desserts are also available). The first, Snowflake, features shaved, sweetened ice milk as a base. Produced by a specialized machine made exclusively in Korea, a generous heap is scooped into a dessert bowl then covered with a variety of unique flavor options, including matcha, red bean, soybean, strawberry, chocolate, or tiramisu. Each dish has its own focused additions as well, including outrageously tasty macarons.
Who Seek also serves the Korean classic dessert, Honey Butter Cube, which is similar to a light pound cake cut into chunks then drizzled with honey butter and topped with ice cream and available in a variety of options, including matcha, soybean, Nutella, honey, coffee, and strawberry.
The combination of unique textures and flavors, with the snow-white foundation of shaved milk (like shaved ice only finer and sweetened), results in a delectable taste bomb that’s difficult to describe but utterly unique and delicious. It’s unlike any dessert you’ve ever tasted.
Who Seek also offers up a wide variety of custom-made drinks, including coffees, bubble teas, smoothies, and Ade, a fruit-sweetened carbonated beverage popular in Korea.
Once ordering, you can take-out or choose to sit in a small row of padded seats along a side hallway (popular with romantics). Or, you can walk to the end of the hallway where a large, seemingly immovable print screen magically slides open to reveal a large, comparatively bright room artfully appointed with couches, club chairs, and coffee tables. There’s also a convenient kitchen window where orders can be picked up once finished.
The room, a delightful contrast to the nightclub-like lobby, has a more traditional feel of an open, well-lit coffee shop. It’s often filled with groups of friends chatting, folks diligently working away on computers, individuals leisurely reading or scrolling phones, and families eagerly diving into their desserts, which are generous and easily shareable.
Jenny Lee, a Korean-American who owns the dessert shop along with her brother, Wan, says the response has been enthusiastic, with business dramatically increasing since opening, especially as word has gotten out via social media. She says they’ll continue to tweak dessert and drink concepts and hours of operation—they just lengthened their weekend late-night hours because of demand—all based on customer feedback.
And if you are still craving the more classic dessert? Good news: a slice of cake can also be had.
Who Seek is located at 13910 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy, Chantilly, VA 20151