The Great Bingsu Review [Fall 2017]

If you’re new to the Carmen Sutra, you may not know that I love bingsu, which (according to Wikipedia) is a “popular Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings that may include chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and red beans.” According to me, bingsu is a bowl of heavenly goodness. Even since coming to Korea for the first time in 2015, it has been my goal to try as many varieties of bingsu as possible. Two years ago I reviewed around 20 or 25 of them (Check the “bingsu review” folder in the sidebar) and now, I’m happy to announce that the bingsu reviews are coming back! I haven’t been eating as much bingsu this time around, but here are the ones I have enjoyed since coming to Korea in late August.

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Let’s kick it off with this Melon (cream) cheese Bingsu from the Sulbing in Myeongdong. 2 years ago, this bingsu came out right as I was leaving Korea, and I was super sad that I couldn’t try it. It’s only fitting that it should be the first one I review this time.

As you can see, it comes in a melon, ya’ll. They carved out a melon and filled it with that standard but nonetheless lovely Sulbing milk ice, hid a few small rich delicious pieces of cheesecake deep within (No seriously, I had to dig for them…and it might just be sweet cream cheese, not cheese cake, but anyway…) and topped the whole mountain of snow with juicy, refreshing melon. This particular melon wasn’t very sweet, so I had to cut the melon into chunks and eat it with the cheesecake pieces and condensed milk to really experience the full flavor of this bingsu. And since the melon chunks were so huge, this bingsu hardly had any mixability. So I have to dock points for that. But overall, I think this whole melon bingsu concept has a lot of merit. It’s aesthetically appealing and the perfect pick-me-up for those humid summer days in Korea.

7.5/10

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This is the Melon Strawberry (Cream) Cheese Bingsu from Sulbing. If that name sounds like a lot, it’s because this bingsu is A LOT. Like the previously posted melon (cream) cheese bingsu, this one also comes in a melon, and inside, you get the standard Sulbing shaved milk ice and bite-sized chunks of cream cheese. Halfway through this bingsu, though, there’s a layer of (previously frozen) strawberries and syrup. Strawberry isn’t the first fruit I would think to pair with this kind of melon, but it’s not terrible. Plus, the melon was sweet this time; that just makes the whole experience better. My main complaint with this bingsu is the mixability—the sheer amount of things made it a challenge to eat. It’s nearly impossible to get strawberries, melon, cream cheese and shaved milk ice all together all in one bite unless you spend some time cutting up the melon into teeny-tiny pieces. (Ain’t nobody got time for that.) Or bring a big ass spoon (Wait….that’s not a bad idea.) My suggestion would be to tackle the stuff in the middle (strawberries and cream cheese? um, yum.) and eat the melon last, or, do what I did and try to eat most of the melon first before digging into the stuff in the middle. Because I almost HAVE to eat the strawberries and melon seperately, it’s hard to say how I feel about these two fruity flavors together. Eating this is really more like having two seperate bingsu in one. I think this might just be the nature of a melon bingsu like this; it’s difficult to marry melon with any other chunky fruit when the bingsu is INSIDE the melon. It’s fine if you like your desserts a little two-faced, but for me it was a little off-putting. However, melons and strawberries do work together well in another way–they are both intensely refreshing. My friend and I went into Sulbing overheated and absolutely parched. After finishing this bingsu, we were cool, happy, and our thirst was absolutely quenched. Well, the thirst for water at least…the thirst for bingsu shall never be satisfied…!

8/10

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This is the 흑심빙수 (black heart bingsu) from Sulbing. Unfortunately this bingsu doesn’t live up to its kickass name; there’s just a whisper of black sesame powder, and the flavor was so weak that it would be impossible to guess it during a blind taste test. It just has a slight nutty flavor. Halfway through, there’s another irritatingly thin layer of sesame powder accompanied by slivered almonds. The almonds did at least give this powdery soft bingsu some texture. While this bingsu has maximum mixability, I regret to inform you that there ain’t no flavors to mix y’all. This bingsu is so one dimensional. Even the black sesame rice cakes on top couldn’t help. They’re tough and the flavor is just as weak as the sad sesame powder they’re sitting on. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with more traditional flavors when it comes to bingsu, but this one was a flop. If you’re gonna make sesame make it SESAME.

5/10

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This pastel confusion (캔디코튼구슬설빙, Cotton Candy Bead Bingsu) is what happens when Dippin’ Dots (mini-melts) meets bingsu. Cotton candy flavored ice cream bits form a ball pit on the top, but if you keep digging, you’ll find a glob of artificially flavored strawberry ice cream and cheesecake bits covered in strawberry glaze in the middle. While the mixability of this bingsu is nice, once it starts to melt, it becomes a pool of sickly sweet regret–the shaved ice gets completely lost in goop and cream, the flavors become less distinct, the world as we know it ends, etc. If this creamsoo, if you will, is attempting to be a fusion of creamy ice cream and bingsu, it’s not quite succeeding. It will, however, succeed at rotting your teeth out. Or, make you flashback to that time you ate too many sweets at a carnival or birthday party and ended up regurgitating everything in your little 7 year old stomach.

6/10

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This 프리미엄 생딸기설빙 (premium fresh strawberry bingsu) is like the poster child of Sulbing. It’s sweet, agreeable, and bright in color. A people pleaser that can do no wrong. If Blossom of the Powerpuff girls was a bingsu she’d be this one. It comes with strawberries in glaze around the perimeter, fresh strawberry halves, whipped cream, and a hunk of cheese(cake?!) Overall, this bingsu is pretty stellar. I’m never going to say no to strawberries and whipped cream, even if the whipped cream isn’t perfect. The strawberries in glaze are just sweet enough that you could pass on the condensed milk if you so desired. This bingsu is also fantastically mixable. The only thorn in this bingsu’s side is that block of cheesecake sticking out of it. As picturesque as it is, it’s really quite flavorless. Kind of like, if a college student to make cheesecake in the microwave with just sugar and cream cheese. Not to mention it was so frozen when we got it that we couldn’t eat it until the very end and that…wasn’t the best ending note for such a nearly perfect bingsu. But other than that, this is solid. Looking forward to trying the rest of the strawberry series!

9.5/10

 

 

Want more bingsu reviews?? Don’t want to wait until the end of the next season to read about bingsu? No worries! I created an Instagram just for bingsu (omg what has my life come to….) Insta: the_carmensutra

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