Authentic patbingsu is a rare find
|Shaved ice with red beans at Wallpaper. By Ser Myo-ja|
Red bean desserts in Korea are like the little black dress for women: They never go out of fashion.
Every summer when the heat begins to seep into our skin, we put on our shorts and head to a bakery to indulge in a lavish bowl of patbingsu, or shaved ice with red beans.
By this time of the season, with the heat and humidity this bad, it’s not about what we think anymore. In a way, we’ve been programed to crave certain food in certain seasons, and shaved ice is definitely on the list.
Summers in Korea start and end with patbingsu, and like burgers and hotdogs, it’s sold everywhere.
The really good stuff is a rare find, though.
Bakeries and dessert chains have come up with exotic toppings like green tea powder, fresh fruit and even red wine.
But few stick to tradition, or so I had thought. I had a revealing experience recently when I sampled the most authentic patbingsu I’ve eaten in years.
It was at Wallpaper, a Pan-European bistro, bar and cafe in Samcheong-dong, northern Seoul.
The place is better known as a “waffle factory” among food bloggers.
It’s built in the style of a brick warehouse with “Coffee and Waffle” written on the outside wall.
Since the place opened earlier this year, the combination of a waffle set, house-made pastries and vintage decor have come to define the place’s tasteful selection. The seasonal addition of patbingsu is certainly a reassuring sign.
Wallpaper’s bowl of patbingsu (pat means red bean and bingsu means shaved ice in Korean) is honest and, quite simply, very good.
It’s got no lavish ice cream toppings or canned fruit as ornaments. Instead, it keeps the minimal ingredients needed in good shape.
A wholesome scoop of pureed red beans is served over a bed of shaved ice, and a light sprinkling of condensed milk helps smooth out the coarse texture of the beans.
The rice cakes are superb. Often bakeries and dessert shops make the culinary faux-pas of using special rice cakes for patbingsu that come in frozen packets.
Here, the rice cake is fresh and moist as if it had just come out of a steamer. But most importantly, the ice is ground to perfection. The particles are smooth with a slight milky flavor, and the bowl gets emptied so quickly, the ice hasn’t even melted.
Wallpaper is located near Samcheong Park. For more information call (02) 737-7187.
By Park Soo-mee Staff Reporter [email@example.com]