Best Bingsu Places in Seoul
You can’t say you’re a true Seoulite if you don’t have a favorite summer go-to bingsu (shaved ice) spot. But, of course, everyone has their own preferences – from those who enjoy the classic bingsu with just red beans to trend seekers who are eager to try out the latest toppings. Regardless of what type of toppings you choose, your summer wouldn’t be complete without having tried at least one bingsu – which is why so many locals line up in front of famous bingsu joints in the sweltering summer heat. Among the seemingly never-ending spectrum of bingsu, we’ve handpicked some of the best bingsu places in Seoul that you definitely ought to try – after all, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve tried these icy summer desserts.
Mealtop at Hyundai Department Store
Best Bingsu Places in Seoul
Classic Milk Bingsu Institution
Mealtop’s milk bingsu is the epitome of simplicity. It’s amazing how they managed to create such a delightful taste with just finely shaved ice, red beans, condensed milk and two petite rice cakes. One spoonful of this icy heap will leave you in awe! The secret behind this perfect concoction is the red bean topping. They boil fresh red beans every single morning and even have an in-house chef, a grandmother in her 70s, who has mastered the art (of boiling red beans) for the past 20 years. What about their shaved ice? Infused with the perfect ratio of milk and condensed milk, this stunner features just the right amount of sweetness.
Located in the Hyundai Department Store, Mealtop has been dishing out classic and delicious bingsu since 1985. If you plan on stopping by during the summer, be prepared to wait in line – we go to the department store for this bowl of heaven instead of shopping on summer days. Mealtop is located not only at the Apgujeong Branch but at just about every Hyundai Department Store in the city.
The Library at the Shilla Hotel
Something Luxurious to Wash Away the Summer Heat
Taking all the traditional bingsu aside, the most sensational bingsu topping is the mango and the Shilla Hotel undoubtedly has the best one. With a generous topping of sweet mangoes, the layer of milk flavored shaved ice is nowhere to be seen. Unsurprisingly, the mango bingsu at the Shilla has become an annual summer ritual for some, despite its expensive price tag.
Okay, before we move on, let’s just talk about this one little detail. You might think that splurging 50,000 won on a bowl of bingsu is a bit insane. But in our defense, the Shilla Hotel proudly serves the highest quality apple mangoes from Jeju Island and aren’t stingy with them. The red beans that they use are top quality as well. What’s more? Their service is top notch and you can even enjoy your bingsu in style while listening to a live music performance. Surely you don’t need any more convincing.
Bring a friend or two to share this big bowl of sweet snowy ice! And just keep in mind that the lines get long on the weekends. The mango bingsu is seasonal and only available from June till the end of August. Go on, treat yourself.
Snow-like Shaved Ice with a Creative Flavorful Twist
Situated in a secluded neighborhood in Mangwon-dong is a cute little bingsu café called Tokyo Bingsu. Their specialties are unique toppings rather than the typical red bean kind. A fan-favorite is the tomato bingsu, a combination of snow-like shaved ice and handmade tomato puree. The presentation is a mixture of red, white and green – with the tomato puree slowly trickling down the heap of shaved ice and a basil leaf acting like a flag on top. They even add a pinch of pepper to give it a spicy kick! We admit, tomato puree may sound a bit weird and isn’t something you’d find on a dessert but trust us when we say it’s surprisingly good. The tomato puree doesn’t taste anything like ketchup but is a refreshing mixture of tomato and sugar! Enjoy it one spoonful at a time instead of mixing it altogether.
Tokyo Bingsu also has Matcha and Oreo flavored ones – plus, they offer other seasonal fruit options. Once you step inside, a self-service kiosk will greet you at the entrance and you can order by looking at the pictures on the screen. After opening its first store in Mangwon-dong in 2016, Tokyo Bingsu has opened up nearly 30 more stores across the nation.
If the Traditional Bingsu is Your Cup of Tea
Set in the residential area of Ichon-dong, Dongbinggo is definitely a local favorite. They serve up traditional bingsu with only the bare necessities– shaved ice along with the classic toppings of sweet red beans and chewy rice cakes. And their red beans aren’t just the average ones we’re used to eating – they give the bingsu that textural kick. If you’ve mixed all the ingredients together, you’re enjoying it the right way.
With less than ten tables, Dongbinggo is small. However, locals keep coming for this frozen dessert on a hot summer day. Instead of rushing through your bingsu and hurriedly clearing the table for those waiting outside, you can order it to go and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home. Don’t worry about your bingsu melting because they package it perfectly.
Delicious, One of a Kind Bingsu
We’ve probably all seen the dome shaped bingsu time and time again, now it’s time to dig into something new. Tiravento serves their bingsu on a clean-cut square dish with paper-thin shreds of ice. Right next to its elegantly piled ice, there’s a scoop of ice cream on a spread of red beans. And to be honest, if we didn’t tell you it was bingsu, we bet you would have thought it was a layer of cake. Because guess what? You have to use a fork and a knife to eat it. They have 13 assorted flavors such as green tea, purple sweet potato, milk tea, and other selected ingredients. You also get to choose from 6 different flavors of ice cream. The green tea bingsu is popular but be sure to try to the purple sweet potato bingsu paired with the lovely chocolate ice cream.
Tiravento is located on Itaewon’s Antique Furniture Street, so take a look around after cooling down with a bingsu of your choice. Who knows? You might fall in love with a piece of furniture to take back home with you.