Ice Princess, the best Patbingsu in Seoul (Bogwang-dong)

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Written by Rae

Photos by Ben

After our barbecue last night, we decided to eat patbingsu.  For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a shaved ice treat with sweetened milk and red bean.  It can come with a variety of fruit toppings, rice cakes, cereal or chocolate.  It’s your choice.  It is a popular dessert during the summer months and is usually served in over-sized bowls with several layers of shaved ice and toppings.  Normally one is enough for two people, after all Korea is a couples country!

As a Westerner, it’s hard to describe what sweetened red bean tastes like.  I would describe it as sweet and earthy.  Here at Ice Princess they specialize in making red bean.  No more of the industrial, and overpriced patbingsu you can find at Paris Baguette or other chains.  During the summer they sell patbingsu, and during the winter months they sell red-bean 죽 (porridge).  It opened up a little over a year ago and has been a huge success in the neighborhood.  The patbingsu is what I would describe as old-school.  It’s simple and delicious.  It isn’t over decorated with sweet syrups, and even over proportioned (which I think is part of the allure of chain coffee shops to lure you into buying their patbingsu).  This patbingsu goes back to the basics and it is so damn good.

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Tonight we got the 미숫가루 밭빙수 (mi-sut-garu patbingsu).  In fact, normally that’s what we get and it’s also what I’d recommend.  Although the green tea bingsu is also good.  It’s has ground up cereal (grain) powder, red bean, and ddeok (rice cakes) sweetened in a simple syrup.  It tastes kind of like a dessert cereal, but doesn’t look like a Western bowl of sweetened cereal.  It’s a simple, honest and rustic dessert.  It’s lighter than icecream, but just as tasty in it’s own right.  It’s sweet without being sickly sweet or heavy, which is why after barbecue we opted to take the trek down the road to eat patbingsu instead of up the road to Baskin Robbins.

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To get there:  Take the bus (421, 400, 405) across from the Taco Bell in Itaewon going towards Bogwang-dong.  Get off one stop after Polytech College, which stops in front of a Pizza School.  Walk down the hill for a minute and it’s on the right, across from the Lucky Mart.

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