By now, I'm sure you have recognized a pattern. If I eat dessert, it's going to be bingsu. I also carefully select my bingsu places...you will rarely see me eating a bingsu at Cafe Bene. I'm also pretty sure I haven't had a bingsu at Paris Baguette, ummm, ever. When I choose my bingsu place, I make sure that they are really well known for it. Luckily for me, bingsu gained a ton of popularity and you now find a ton of stores that sell JUST bingsu all around the country.
Today, I want to introduce you to "Peony" cafe in Hongdae. It is well-known for it's homemade strawberry shortcake and it's strawberry bingsu. I was obviously there for the bingsu primarily, but, of course, I also had to try the strawberry shortcake.
It is very popular! We waited in line for about 40~45 minutes. The line snaked out into the road...you know the parking lot road that goes down the middle of Hongdae area. Then we finally got into the cafe!
The cafe is quite small, there are about 25 chairs (?). You order at the counter. Next to the counter is the bakery case featuring the baked goods. Some of the other items looked pretty nice (ie the tarts and cheesecake), but we were on a mission to eat the strawberry bingsu and the strawberry shortcake.
The bingsu is made with homemade condensed milk. When I saw that on the sign outside, I began to feel better about waiting so long. When they serve the bingsu, they serve the fresh strawberry sauce and fresh syrup on the side. Visually, it looked great!
The bingsu tasted great! Since the condensed milk was homemade, it was rich without being overly sweet and didn't taste artificial at all some of the packaged condensed milk tastes. The strawberry syrup was light and wasn't overly sweet either. The strawberries were also fresh. Strangely, the strawberry chunks in the syrup were not cut uniformly...which is a small thing, but it kind of made eating it with a spoon difficult since the whole strawberries were difficult to eat with some bingsu.
The strawberry shortcake looked equally great! Luckily for us, they had just brought out a new cake, so we got the second or third piece. There are three layers of shortcake. In between the two bottom layers, there is fresh cream and fresh strawberries. The top and side of the cake is covered with the same fresh cream and topped with a half of a strawberry per wedge.
Unfortunately, the cake was a major disappointment. It's what is called in Korean colloquial slang "visual" ... a term I became quite aware of this past summer in Korea. It was obviously made just for the visual impact. The cake was moist, though, so that was a plus. The part my friend and I disliked was the fact that the fresh cream had absolutely no flavor. It felt like you were just eating the fat off the top of whole milk...it was just fat coating your mouth. We were both surprised that they didn't use any sugar or vanilla in the cream. I'm sure the cake would have tasted great if they would just make some minor tweaks to the cream! In order for us to finish the cake with it's major lack of flavor, we dipped the cake in the strawberry syrup. It was lucky that we 1) ordered the bingsu 2) started eating the cake before we had finished the bingsu and the strawberries.
Strawberry Short Cake (1 slice): 4500KRW
Whole cake: varies depending on size
Hongdae Station (Exit 9) walk straight until you get to Bobo Hotel. Turn left. Follow that road and keep walking along it...you should walk past a Saemaul Shikdang (the Korean BBQ place). Then get to the long street that is kind of like a parking lot down the middle. There, turn right and cross the street. Keep walking straight along that street, you will cross one more road. Eventually, it will be on your right.
Alternatively, you can go from Sangsu Station (Line 6). From exit 1, walk straight until you get to the Standing Coffee. There, turn right. Walk straight until you get to a bigger road. Then, veer slightly right. You should walk past the Waffle Bant store. Keep walking straight and the store will be on your left.
Hongdae Peony - http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2013/12/hongdae-cafe-peony.html
Myungdong Battery Park - http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2013/12/seoul-myeongdong-restaurant-battery-park.html
Ewha Women's University Pop Container - http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2013/12/sinchonewha-university-cafe-pop.html
Hongdae/Garosugil Maman Gateau - http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2013/10/hongdae-cafeseoul-cafe-maman-gateau.html
Gangnam Paris Croissant - http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2014/10/seoul-gangnam-cafe-paris-croissant.html
Twosome Place - http://eatstretchexplore.blogspot.com/2014/10/korean-cafe-twosome-place-tiramisu-bingsu.html