It’s already mid-September, and writing about the ubiquitous ultimate Korean coping method against the perennial summer heat, i.e. patbingsu aka shaved ice with stuffs on top (which I had written a lot about) seems like a proper act of trolling. Well, I’m all for trolling, so here we go again.
Let’s chat for a bit. If you are a moderately long time resident in this fine city, you would notice that sometimes a food/drink chain would pop outta nowhere. All of a sudden, all over the city, you see that same chain store. Summer is the particular season for that kind of culinary outbreak. I could name a few names here, but let’s just stick to patbingsu. Last year we had 옥루몽–that traditional-looking chain resto with wooden decor serving traditional-styled patbingsu with humble red beans and tteok. 옥루몽 was seriously everywhere last summer. Everyone seemed to eat at 옥루몽. I mean, a touch of tradition amid all those fancy twisted patbingsu with strawberries and tiramisu seemed like a recipe for success at the time. Too bad, this summer, 옥루몽 is so last year (and it actually is). The new buzz of da city is the bigger, sleeker 설빙 (sulbing) http://sulbing.com
Okay so patbingsu is basically shaved ice, but the ice here at 설빙 is not really shaved ice. Rather, it is the ice similar to that at 옥루몽 and 호밀밭 (see reviews of them both here). 호밀밭 was the first place in Seoul imho that came up with the idea of fine-like-snow-ice. This kind of exquisite ice, I believe, is more like shaved milk mixed with sweet condensed milk. Anyway, whatever, it tastes great on its own with that mild sweetness and melt-in-your-mouth quality. So, you get the point, the ice at 설빙 is good, on the same par with those two excellent predecessors.
What 설빙 does better, though, is its toppings, ranging from the traditional stuff which is ubiquitous and tastes just okay (7000 KRW)
to the fancier version of black sesame, which leaves your teeth dotted with those fine black substance. Eat at your own risk (8000 KRW, I think)
to the pricier stuff of (frozen) berry patbingsu (9000 KRW)
The menu is basically very, very extensive as they serve not only patbingsu but also porridge, toasts, Korean tea and coffee. For full menu you can check here.
All in all, what I have tried at 설빙 so far are nice and it is one of the places I have no problem coming back. The red bean is finely minced and had the right amount of sweetness. The tteok (my least favorite part of patbingsu) actually is quite addictive with that chewy texture. They also give you a tiny pot of sweet milk to pour over the bingsu. My only gripe is that the patbingsu here are pricier than elsewhere. The size, though, makes up for the price. Two people can share a bowl of bingsu and leave the place full. Personally I think that 3 people sharing the same portion is perfectly fine.
I have been to the 설빙 in Edae and Sinchon. The ice at the Edae branch is a bit watery, while the Sinchon stuff is perfect everytime. Plus, Sinchon brand is located inside a multi story building and 설빙 takes up 3 floors. The decor is nice and relaxing, and the view is quite nice. Recommended.
And of course Korean English always delights me:
설빙 is seriously everywhere in Seoul. I always see a store somewhere. If you hang out at Hongdae, Edae, Sinchon, Myeongdong, Anam, Dongdaemun, Jonggak, Chungmuro, Apgujeong etc. (meaning all the places with a sufficient amount of people) you should see 설빙.