There are many reasons to visit Seoul, South Korea. There are historical sights to see, the food is good and the shopping is wonderful (especially skin care products for the ladies). But there is one thing we have to do when in Seoul – savour the desserts. Today, we would like to share with you two such places which really stood out during a recent trip.
The first is the Osulloc Tea House in Insadong. Osulloc is a well known brand for Korean tea. There are many stores in Seoul and you can also find their products in department stores. We visited their tea house in the shopping and cultural area, Insadong. The main attraction of this shop is of course the numerous types of teas and related products which are sold in the retail space on the ground floor. The second and third floors house the cafe area. The second floor in particular was most interesting as there are tables that are placed along the long windows giving you a superb view of the hustle and bustle of Insadong below. Many types of desserts were offered in the cafe. We tried a few which were all good but the one that took our breath away was the green tea ice-cream. This ice cream had the most complex and concentrated aroma of green tea that we ever experienced. And that was before you pour the small glass of concentrated tea (sort of like a shot of tea expresso) over the ice cream. The bouquet and flavour of green tea was exquisite.
Address: 170 Gwanhun-dong Jongro-gu, Seoul. It is located opposite the Ssamzegil mall in Insadong.
The other place for Korean dessert we would like to recommend to you is Dalsuda which specialises in the Korean shaved ice dessert known as patbingsu (팥빙수).
What distinguishes this place from the many other places serving this Korean dessert is the quality of the ingredients and the fineness of the shaved ice. The ice they produce is many times finer than the ice kachang type that we get here. The texture is like powdery snow. There were many varieties of this Korean dessert to choose from and we picked the one that seemed the most popular with the locals. It was shaved ice covered with peanut powder with sliced almonds, red beans and some blobs of chewy substance. We cannot recall the name of this but there are pictures on the menu and you can point to it.
The tastes of the ingredients combined very well with the airy lightness of the ice to give a very unusual and pleasant mouth feel. We saw patrons having this at many tables. It was quite a large dish (almost like a mini wok) and one order was enough to refresh two tired ordinary patrons who just finished exploring the nearby Bukchon historical neighbourhood. The Dalsuda Korean Dessert Cafe is located at the southern end of this district, at the bottom end of the long straight road that runs north to south through Bukchon.
In case you feel like trying some bingsu after reading this blog, you may be glad to know that you can find it in Singapore. We know of two such places and you can read about them here and here. The real thing in Seoul is still better, especially the fineness of the shaved ice but those we tried in Singapore are not too bad either.