You know Summer is in Seoul when the humidity becomes stifling and your make up starts to melt off. Enter Patbingsoo, a Korean dessert made of shaved ice, condensed milk, sweet red beans and rice cakes, the perfect little treat for when the weather gets overly muggy. Patbingsoo places are a dime a dozen in Seoul but there are places that just do it right and as someone who takes her bingsoo very seriously, I’ve decided to dedicate a whole post to it.
The first photograph is an example of patbingsoo done the wrong way. Yes, the gigantic scoop of ice cream makes it look appetizing but that is definitely not the case. Patbingsoo ice should be shaved to the consistency of snowball snow – the type that packs really well but as you can see the ice in this particular bingsoo looks exactly like… well… ice. When the ice and ice cream melt, it turns into this watery milk soup that doesn’t play well on the palette. When I was in college we used to stone-paper-scissors and would make the loser drink it as punishment. Ewwwww right?
W8500 at Cafe Nescafe. Enough for four people but I wasn’t a huge fan.
(Especially of the oddly fluffy ice cream they insisted was Haagen Dazs)
Most bingsoo connoisseurs will tell you that Mealtop is the best of the best. Located on the top floor of most Hyundai Department Stores – the main branch in Apgujeong being their flagship, there is a perpetual line in the summer with people waiting to get a table there. The ice is shaved to fluffy snow like perfection and there is enough red bean for each icy bite. Sometimes simple really is the best and the two little rice cakes on top complement the sweetness perfectly with their pleasantly textured chewiness. A little pricey at W7000 for a small bowl because this is definitely not enough for two people but if you’re on a diet maybe you can share. You can also try the green tea, coffee or strawberry flavours. I like the original milk.
5th Floor, Hyungdai Department Store (Main Branch)
165, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu
Directions: Apgujeong Station (Line 3), Exit 6.
Eskimo Hawaii was a surprising random find for me and has become my go to place for bingsoo in Seoul. Located in the Express Bus Terminal underground mall aka GoTo Mall, the store is at the end of the East wing. What makes this place so amazeballs is that the ice is actually shaved milk and is super smooth and creamy. The toppings are pumpkin and mugwort rice cakes and they are actually suit the bingsoo really well. If you love bingsoo you will thank me for introducing you to this place. Also, it’s a real steal at W5500 for a bowl – perfect for two, and if you like their Facebook page and show them, they’ll give you an Americano for free.
Underground GOTO Mall
Shop GO23, Express Bus Terminal Station