Food & Eating in Seoul · Very Korean Experience

Korean desserts I: Bingsu

Last summer I went all crazy about Bingsu, a very typical Korean dessert to fight the heat of the summer. I have been wanting to write about Korean desserts for a long time, and today is finally the day I’m doing so!

This is Bingsu
This is Bingsu

Bingsu is basically a lot of ice, served with some toppings (most popular ones are red beans, mango, berries, or chocolate). The first time I saw it I coulnd’t believe people would pay around 10,000W to get a huge bowl of ice with maybe a 3,000W worth of toppings. However, after trying it, I suddenly understood. Ice is actually delicious when made right!

The shaved ice can either make a bingsu good, or ruin it, in my opinion. I like the ice very very thin, so that it basically melts to your tongue contact. The toppings are the other main part, obviously, and red beans can actually taste very different in 2 shops. You know you’ve been living in Korea long enough when you learn to distinguish red beans from each other. Haha~

My favorite bingsu is the patbingsu, which is probably the most Korean one. Pat means red bean, so this bingsu is covered with sweet red beans. It usually comes with mocchi, or glutinous sweet rice cake, and it will sometimes also include a ball of green tea ice cream, which is basically like a cherry on top of an already delicious dessert.

A great collection of the best patbingsu I've tried
A great collection of the best patbingsu I’ve tried: Cafe Breezin, Seolbing, Pasiya, and Angel in Us (not in order of preference)

My favorite place to get the patbingsu is probably the archi-famous bingsu chain: seolbing/sulbing 설빙. This chain has some 500 stores all around South Korea (and plans to open 150 in China, as I recently learnt), being one of the most popular places to enjoy a bingsu. I even have a friend whose family was thinking of opening one, since they seem to be cash cows (I always see all of them fully busy in Summer, although I’ve never visited in Winter time).

Fruits & Cereal (didn't like the cereal part), berries, fruits and ice cream (not good) and mango ice cream
Fruits & Cereal (didn’t like the cereal part), berries, fruits and ice cream (not good) and mango ice cream

Besides the patbingsu, I have also tried some other with chocolate or fruits. Not a big fan of chocolate bingsu, mostly because chocolate in Korea is not that great… Fruit bingsu are yummy and a bit healthier, I suppose. I’ve tried mango bingsu, berries bingsu, strawberry bingsu, and I have seen some places doing pineapple or melon bingsu inside the original fruit cages… will try some this summer for sure!

Having chocolate bingsu with some friends
Having chocolate bingsu with some friends

If you’re still hesitant about trying this dessert mainly composed by ice, don’t! Give it a try, preferably at Sulbing or some other renowned shop, since bad bingsu is really bad (big chunks of ice, and flavorless red beans… no thanks). it is perfect for those days when it is too hot you’d melt outside. In addition, sulbing has super aircon, so you will really be refreshed after eating bingsu!

These are on my
These are on my “to try” list!

What’s your prefered bingsu place? And what variety is your favorite? Let me know!


4 thoughts on “Korean desserts I: Bingsu

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