[english.visitkora.or.kr] Bingsu (shaved ice with toppings) is a popular snack food found almost everywhere in Korea during the summer months. As it becomes a heavily dominant menu eaten across the nation by many Koreans and travellers seeking for unique eats, lots of dessert businesses are coming up with more creative concoctions to delight their customers. To beat the sweltering heat this summer, let’s indulge in some of these tasty treats known to be the best of the best! Read on to find a variety of places where you can explore endless diversity of bingsu and flavors.
Believed to date back all the way to the Joseon Dynasty, the original bingsu was simple, served as finely broken ice chips topped with sweetened red bean porridge. The beans sit aloft a mound of thinly shaved ice chips flavored with a mixture of milk or condensed milk. Finishing with a garnish of choice, such as nuts and seeds, which are added on top, giving the bingsu texture as well as nutritional supplements. Most popular toppings found are bingsus with misutgaru (roasted rice and grain powder) or served with generous pieces of chewy rice cake completing a flavorful taste sensation.
The Classic – Patbingsu
☞ Recommended Bingsu Places: Dongbinggo, Okrumong, Meal Top
- Dongbinggo: 319, Ichon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (Get off at Ichon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and Exit 4. Takes about 17-minutes on foot or 5-minutes by taxi.)
- Okrumong (Sinchon Branch): 519, Seongsan-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (Get off at Sinchon Station (Gyeongui-Jungang Line) and Exit 2. Walk for about 8-minutes.)
- Meal Top (Apgujeong Main Branch): 165, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Get off at Apgujeong Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 6. Meal Top is located on the 5th floor of the Hyundai Department Store.)
Today, many bingsus shy away from the predominantly red bean taste and some even omit the red beans altogether. This modification is especially welcomed by those who cannot eat red beans (also known as pat in Korean), or prefer a less sweet version of bingsu. The fruit toppings go so well with shaved ice, whether it is freshly diced or added with honey and syrup, they make a perfect combination that will make you crave for more. Some bingsus are specialized in a single flavor such as mango or strawberry, but if you like to taste a little of all, mix choices are also available.
Refreshing ‘Fruit-full’ Bingsu
☞ Recommended Bingsu Places: Gami, Passion 5
- Gami (Strawberry Bingsu): 2, Ewhayeodae 8-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (Get off at Ewha Womans Univ. Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) and Exit 3. Walk for about 5-minutes.)
- Passion 5 (Mango Bingsu): 272, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (Get off at Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6) and Exit 3. Walk for about 5-minutes.)
For the health-conscious, choosing which dessert to take might be a bit of a struggle. But have no fear as some bingsus are prepared with comparatively mild flavors, topped with generous chunks of sweet pumpkin, jujube or almond, filling enough to be consumed as a light meal. These delicacies are even served in a beautiful brass or porcelain bowl, adding a tinge of traditional charm, favored equally by both young and older generations. While the sweet pumpkin bingsu does contain red beans, it is also topped with aplenty portion of gugija (barbary wolfberry fruit), yulmu (job’s tear), odi (mulberry fruit) and more, making for a mild taste that it particularly popular among the older clienteles. The dish can be eaten after pouring soy milk over the shaved ice, doubling-up the nutty flavors of the toppings.
Healthier Rendition with Nutritious Condiments
☞ Recommended Bingsu Places: Suyeonsanbang, Tea Therapy
- Suyeonsanbang (Sweet Pumpkin Bingsu): 8, Seongbuk-ro 26-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (Get off from Hansung Univ. Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and Exit 6. Takes about 21-minutes on foot or 5-minutes by taxi.)
- Tea Therapy (Hangrang branch) (Hangbang (oriental medicine in Korean) Patbingsu): 74, Yunposun-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Get off at Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) and Exit 1. Walk for about 6-minutes.)
From the traditional red beans to complex mixes of ice cream and fruits, bingsus can easily be found in almost any coffee shop or bakery in Korea. However, there are even more unique bingsus that are only found in some, such as ‘cacao bingsu’, ‘snow flake milk bingsu’, ‘cherry blossom bingsu’, or ‘pop corn bingsu’. These uniquely named bingsus are attracting a lot of attention from the young generations, as they are not only visually appealing but taste heavenly too!
Unique Bingsu Emcompassing Traditional Flavors
☞ Recommended Bingsu Places: Danggojip, Cacaobom, Bukae Bingsu
- Danggojip (Cherry Blossom Bingsu): 5, Eoulmadang-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (Get off at Sangsu Station (Seoul Subway Line 6) and Exit 4. Walk for about 4-minutes.)
- Cacaobom (Cacao Bingsu): 6, Wausan-ro 27-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (Get off at Hongik Univ. Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) and Exit 8. Walk for about 10-minutes.)
- Bukae Bingsu (Snowflake-like Milk Bingsu): 28, Dasan-ro 47-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (Get off at Sindang Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) and Exit 1. Walk for about 10-minutes.)