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South Korea: Chinchilla with your chai?

South Korean cafes are adapting odd twists – such as a side of chinchilla, chow-chow, or flesh-eating fish – to set themselves apart.

By Tony AziosContributor / February 1, 2010

Patrons at Caffe Pascucci, a Seoul coffee shop, stand in front of an eye-catching wall mural.

Han Jae-Ho/Reuters

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Seoul, South Korea

In South Korea, cafe culture is all the rage. These days, virtually no city block in Seoul is without a coffee shop or two. Koreans, however, are known for putting their own odd twist on any outside custom they adopt. Here, bistros offer décor and amenities unlike anything found in Paris, Rome, or New York.

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Take, for instance, the cafe/pet store Jurassic Park, in the Doonchondong neighborhood of Seoul. Customers relax with a cup of joe in a jungle setting dense with plants and furry critters for sale. Why not shop for your next chinchilla while sipping chai?

Then there’s the cleverly named BAU House in Seoul’s hip Hongdae district, where thirsty patrons with commitment issues can snuggle with a chow for an hour, but forgo pooper-scoopers, vets, and other endless duties of full-time dog owners.

A favorite of Koreans and expatriates alike are the so-called Dr. Fish Cafes found throughout town, where patrons can pamper themselves with pedicures while swilling a freshly brewed mug and munching on a plate of free cookies.

The pedicurists? Tanks of small fish that nibble at your feet, aptly removing calluses and dead skin cells in a ticklish flurry.

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