I Tried Trazy’s Bingsu Recommendations So You Don’t Have To (Part 1)

Before I went plant-based last year, I was an absolute bingsu fiend; I was eating it two or three times a week, scarfing down portions meant for several by myself, dedicating an entire Facebook photo album to my favorites, and even dreaming about hilly landscapes of bingsu in every color, flavor, and size.

[Bingsu] is a national dessert made of shaved ice, milk and condensed milk and often topped with sweetened red beans or fruit. It is a dish beloved across generations, chilling tastebuds and slaking thirst in the thick of summer.  (via The Korea Herald)

Trazy’s article about bingsu [here] was one of the earliest sources I used to hunt down the best bingsu around Seoul. Between 2015 and 2017 I tried almost all of their recommendations, and some of them were great, others not so much… And so, in honor of National Ice Cream month and as a service to my lovely readers who still consume dairy ice cream, I’ve decided to release revamped and/or previously unpublished reviews of Seoul’s best bingsu (according to Trazy).

I don’t eat cow milk-based bingsu anymore, but it would be a disservice to keep this treasure trove of info to myself. I do hope you’ll forgive the low quality of some of these pictures; most of them were taken a long time ago!

  1. Homilbat 호밀밭
    Address: 서울특별시 서대문구 신촌역로 43
    43 Sinchonnyeok-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
    Nearest Station: Sinchon Station, Exit 3
    Hours: Everyday except Tuesday 12:30 pm -10:00pm
    Price: 6,000 ~ 9,000 won ($)

    Trazy made a good call when they put 호밀밭 on their list. This small specialty shop in Sinchon has the finest shaved milk ice in Seoul; the fruit on their mixed fruit bingsu and watermelon bingsu is sweet, abundant, and fresh. Homilbat prides itself on its sweet red beans, which are made from dry domestic beans as opposed to coming from a can. They’re served on the side so you can control the amount of red bean in your dessert; this is great if you’re easing your taste buds into the red bean flavor. The bingsu is just the right size too–small enough for you to eat by yourself without feeling judged, but large enough to share. Read my full review of their fruit bingsu here.

    Final Verdict: WORTH IT

  2. Okrumong 경성팥집옥루몽
    Address: Multiple locations
    See a list of locations here
    Hours: Everyday 11:00am – 11:00pm
    Price: 8,000 ~10,000 won ($-$$)okrumong green tea bingsuNext up on their list is Okrumong. The location in Dongdaemun Design Plaza is a small, unassuming open cafe with a dark interior and minimalist decor. This simple minimalist taste extends to the bingsu as well. Their menu features a traditional patbingsu, a green tea bingsu, chestnut bingsu, black sesame bingsu, soy sauce bingsu, and a seasonal hallabong and kiwi bingsu. When I tried the green tea one, at first I thought the pale green shade was an indication of lack of artificial food coloring, but upon tasting it, I realized it was due to the lack of green tea powder. The flavor is too faint to be bitter or sweet. The red beans do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to adding sweetness and texture to this powdery soft dessert.  If you’re trying to wow someone with Korea’s bingsu, Okrumong may not be the best place. Read my full review of the bingsu at their DDP location here.
    Website: http://okrumong.umade.kr/

    Final verdict: NAH FAM
  3. Pop Container 팝컨테이너
    Address: 서울특별시 서대문구 명물길 70
    5-11 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
    Nearest Station: Sinchon Station, Exit 3
    Hours: Everyday 10:00am – 11:00pm
    Price: 13,000 won ($$)

    The cafe interior is styled after a dorm room, complete with white walls, string lights, bean bag chairs, and other broke-chic seating. But the decor isn’t why it made Trazy’s list; it’s the sky-high oreo bingsu on the menu. While it is an impressive looking tower of ice and oreo, the flavor is watery, like stale oreo cereal gone soggy in skim milk. Plus, its height and the fact that it’s served in a Pyrex measuring cup makes it difficult to eat, especially as it starts to melt; you might need three people to gobble it down in a decent time. There are higher quality oreo bingsu desserts around, so don’t waste your time here unless you want to relive the glory (or trauma) of your college years or experience their one-of-a-kind Tim Tam bingsu, which looks so much better than the Oreo one.
    Final verdict: NAH FAM but…that Tim Tam bingsu looks fabulous

  4. Sobok 소복카페
    Address: Multiple locations
    See a list of locations here
    Hours: Everyday 1:00pm – 11:00pm
    Price: 8,500 won ($)sobok bingsuThe bingsu from Sobok is made from a combination of milk ice and brown rice giving this fluffy white cloud of bingsu an deep, roasted, down-to-earth quality that keeps it from being one dimensional. Inside you’ll find pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried persimmon, sweet pumpkin, and brown rice syrup. Despite not being the most exciting bingsu on the block, I have to give it good marks for ingenuity and for it’s simply natural aesthetic. You also can’t go wrong by trying out their ice cream selection either. It’s better than the bingsu! But if nuts or grains or subtly flavored ice creams don’t jive with you, you’d best steer clear, ya dig? Read my full review of their menu here.
    Final verdict
    : WORTH IT
    Website: http://sobokorea.com
  5. Dangojip 당고집
    Address: 서울특별시 마포구 어울마당로3길 5
    356-9 Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
    Nearest Station: Sangsu Station, Exit 6
    Hours: Mon-Fri 11:00am – 9:00pm; Sat & Sun 12:00 – 9:00pm
    Price: 8,500 won ($)11891040_929426533763111_2287518624550058473_n-01There’s a reason this cafe is known for it’s Japanese style dango, not its bingsu. I suspect it’s on Trazy’s list as more of a novelty because I’ve never encountered another cherry blossom bingsu in Seoul. There are two layers of white bean cherry blossom paste and edible flowers on top. It’s hard to describe the cherry blossom flavor to someone who’s never had it, but it’s kind of like a combination of rose and strawberry. This bingsu is light, delicate, and thought provoking. I kept pausing several times throughout trying to place its flavor. I do enjoy cherry blossom as a flavor but this tasted faint and a little off to me. Still, it is cute. Read my full review of this bingsu here and more about their full menu on this website.

    Final verdict
    : NAH FAM unless…
    you are obsessed with cherry blossom flavored things
  6. Mealtop 밀탑빙수
    Address: located in various Hyundai department stores
    See a list of locations here
    Hours: Everyday, 10:30am – 10:00pm
    Price: 8,000 won ($)
    Steeped in tradition, the style of bingsu at Mealtop is unremarkable compared to the ice cream innovations happening elsewhere in the city. Yet there is a certain traditional charm to it that continues to draw a loyal older clientele. Those who value dining on the top floor of a ritzy department store among well-dressed grandmas and grandpas will find Mealtop appealing to all senses. You can enjoy a sweet, classic patbingsu at a timeless establishment while getting judged for your summer sweat stains. For me, a posh setting isn’t enough to get it on my favorites list, but as an introduction to bingsu, you could certainly do worse.
    Website: http://www.mealtop.com
    Final verdict: WORTH IT
  7. Sulbing 설빙
    Address: Various, it’s a chain!
    See a list of locations here
    Hours: Everyday, 10:00am – 11:00pm
    Price: 9,000 – 14,000 won ($$)25086521_10156926819722166_2051125381_oThere’s a reason you can’t talk about bingsu without mentioning Sulbing. It’s everywhere. Their base menu is supplemented with rotating seasonal specials to show off the freshest flavors, so there’s something for everyone. Want something traditional like injeolmi or matcha? It’s there. Want something fruity? Got that too.  Occasionally there’s a wacky innovation thrown in like red velvet bingsu or carnival bingsu (pictured) to feed the sugar-hyper kid in you. Locals love it; tourists love it. It’s the complete opposite of Mealtop; Sulbing is fun, colorful, and constantly reinventing itself to fit the latest trends.Website: https://sulbing.com
    Final verdict
    : WORTH IT


Trazy’s list so far has been good but not great. Out of the seven listed here, the three an average visitor could skip are Okrumong, Pop Container, and Dangojip, unless you were on a mission to taste all the cherry blossom flavored things in Asia or were suffering from Tim Tam withdrawals. For me, Mealtop is classic but not particularly memorable after having a near-transcendent experience at Homilbat. (The fineness of the shaved ice is unparalleled there, let me tell you.) I liked Sobok because it puts a different spin on traditional Korean flavors, and Sulbing is a no brainer.

My main complaint with Trazy’s list is the number of fantastic bingsu cafes that left out, so later this month, I’ll be sharing what I consider to be the best and worst (dairy) bingsu in Seoul. Stay with me dairy-free friends, there’s something for us too. Two posts on vegan options is coming up shortly thereafter! Follow the blog so you don’t miss this ice cream train.

Have you tried any of Trazy’s bingsu recommendations? What did you think? Which ones do you want to try yourself?

 

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7 thoughts on “I Tried Trazy’s Bingsu Recommendations So You Don’t Have To (Part 1)”

  1. My school has bought us injeolmi Sulbing twice this summer. It’s not something I’d have gotten on my own but I’m actually quite fond of it. I’m looking forward to the rest of your bingsu adventures. Kinda makes me want to go to Sulbing and grab some patbingsu on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

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