Although I love Korean food, I had only ever eaten patbingsu, a popular shaved ice dessert in South Korea, twice in my life. And one of those times was in South Korea. The other time was in New York City at Koryodang in Koreatown, but if there was any justice in this world, fast food chains around 32nd Street would be serving this simple dessert like they do in South Korea.
But at least we have Koryodang, who so far make the best shaved ice I've had in the city (I'll have to get ice queen Kathy YL Chan's opinion on that). My group of five shared two kinds of patbingsu: fruit and red bean. Both bowls contained red bean and different kinds of chopped fruit, but the fruit bowl also had fruit syrup where he red bean bowl had condensed milk, and the fruit bowl used strawberry ice cream instead of the red bean bowl's vanilla. Both bowls were also topped with mochi (glutinous rice) balls and roasted soybean powder.
The best part about these bowls of shaved ice was that the ice was, for the first time in my life, uniformly finely shaved to be soft and fluffy, not irritatingly crunchy and icy like most others I've had. SCORE! Aside from that, the other ingredients mashed together alright. It all depends on whether or not you like the fruits they put in, have an aversion to red bean (I hope not!), or are lactose intolerant. The fruit bowl's overly sweet syrup was a bit of a turn off, so most of us gravited towards the red bean. My favorite toppings were the mochi and the roasted soybean powder that gives everything a slightly nutty flavor.
Is there any way we can stop the frozen yogurt craze and start a patbingsu one instead? Hell, all you'd really have to do is replace the froze yogurt machines with shaved ice machines.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.