It’s the simple things that are the hardest to get right—but Dongbinggo’s smooth and uniform ice texture, red bean consistency, bean to ice ratio and chewy ddeok hit all right notes. Unfortunately, everyone else in Seoul seems to think so too, but maybe waiting in line in the hot summer sun makes your bingsu taste all thebetter (tip: order take out and sit at the nearby park).
The best bingsu of summer
Whatever your tastes, there’s a bingsu for you. Here’s a round-up of our favorites
O’Sulloc brings quality Korean tea to the masses, and unlike most other purveyors of green tea sweets, uses drinking-grade sejak green tea in their desserts. Some nice touches that won us over: The ice is shaved frozen milk, the red bean is blended with chestnut and the ice cream is made with the same high-quality green tea powder. Green tea desserts can be hit or miss, but the flavors here are fragrant without turning grassy.
This bingsu is loaded with all kinds of traditional Korean treats, like chestnuts and misutgaru, all locally sourced. In keeping with Korean medicinal beliefs, the dried jujubes were added to counteract the cold ice and warm the body. Damkkot is known for their tasty and stylish ddeok, made fresh every morning, and the injeolmi ddeok on their bingsu is plush and chewy all at once.
If it’s sweet, you’ll find a bingsu of it. Maman Gateau is the undisputed master of the caramel bingsu, a towering concoction of shaved ice, toasted almonds and pecans and a scoop of homemade caramel ice cream with a piece of almond caramel brittle, all drizzled in the owner’s signature caramel sauce. The flavors are nutty, toasty and almost savory, but it comes with a side of extra caramel sauce if you like yours extra sweet.
The name of this bingsu in Korean is a play on words combining “persimmon” with “how dare you”—and oh, we dare. It’s chock full of frozen and dried persimmon layered with shaved ice and milk, topped with chocolate and fresh mint. Persimmon is a fall fruit, but eating frozen persimmons is a summer tradition and the flavors are both comforting and refreshing.
Every so often, you’ll come across a bingsu that defies categories. The creamy orange bingsu at Café Imi is one such bingsu—they pour a homemade pulpy orange juice over shaved ice and add a layer of mild, fluffy cream on top. It tastes like the orange creamsicles of your childhood, and just might be the one bingsu you’d want to eat for breakfast (we won’t judge).