CONTRIBUTED BY SIBO LUNGU
With a name like that includes the word “dessert”, noticing and wanting to try out this café wasn’t a hard sell. However, I have only come to really enjoy it in the last month. Enjoy to the point of addiction.
As much as I love to try new foods, when I first saw this place some of the menu items just seemed “undessert–like”. Each time I walked by the café, the sign outside had a picture of two slices of bread and powdery stuff heaped on top of it, all in a bowl. On top of that, everything on the menu except tea was completely unpronounceable to me.
Then, in late November or so, I noticed that the sign outside the café had changed. With November came strawberries! And thus, strawberry inspired desserts made an appearance. Still, the same curious volcano-shaped mound was displayed, but this time it had strawberries on top; a substance I could identify and pronounce! I was sold. And then in February, perhaps due to Valentine’s Day, chocolate made its appearance. Again, the same volcanic bowl was displayed, but this time dark chocolate covered the mound. I didn’t care if I wasn’t able to pronounce it, I would just point and grunt if it came to it!
So as soon as my tooth was healed (as if to torture me further, I had tooth trouble for a month), I headed to the café with some friends. We gobbled down enough dessert for six. There were three of us. These deserts, like much of Korean food, are meant to be shared. We shared alright, and in the process sampled half the menu items!
While it is a café that serves hot and cold teas, their specialty is Sulbing, or “snow ice” as it is directly translated. I just have to let the pictures do the talking on this one because it is DIVINE!
But if you are curious as to what sulbing is exactly, here goes: Ice flakes make the mound. Then whatever topping you choose and a dollop of whipped cream is placed on top. Lastly, they serve condensed milk on the side which you can pour over the dessert as if it wasn’t delicious enough already. Now you may be thinking that you’ve had bingsoo (ice flakes topped with fruit or beans) before, but oh no. These ice flakes are so powdery you can actually blow them off your spoon! This is no snow cone! I have no idea what machine makes ice turn to that consistency, but what it makes is a snowy, fluffy, airy dream in a bowl!
They have many toppings from which to choose. I can’t get over the chocolate. It is Godiva or Lindt-quality dark chocolate; at least 50% cacao. The topping on the snowy mound includes brownie pieces, chocolate shavings, cacao powder, and of course whipped cream. It is chocolate heaven. The strawberry and blueberry and cheesecake sulbing is also delicious. It includes cheesecake and real blueberries; not the syrupy canned berries, but natural freshly thawed berries in their plump glory.
The other dish they are known for is the toast. The best way I can describe this is to say it is like a grilled cheese sandwich, except the cheese is melted rice cake which when melted has the consistency of melted cheese. If you have ever had rice cake, you’ll know it is chewy, so that’s a bit different. But what makes it delicious are once again are the variety of toppings. My favorite in this case is actually the original version –Injeolmi toast, not the chocolate. It has the powder on top which turns out is just bean powder and doesn’t really have a strong flavor to me. The whole “sandwhich” thing is served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Yummy!
In one of my numerous trips there this month, I tried a new dish for which I still have to get the Korean name and find out what exactly what it’s made from. This is something I‘d recommend for those without much of a sweet tooth of looking for something a bit more savory. Basically, it is a tube of rice cake on a stick. But hold on; inside is cheese, and then on top is more cheese. And not just cheese, but a blend of cheeses that result in a delightful flavor that make your taste buds scream. I think it’s mostly mozzarella, but there are other herbs and cheeses like parmesan as well.
This dish is served in a small skillet. The ingredients at the bottom of the pan under the rice cakes are a mystery. My students say that it is sweet potato, my husband says it tastes like pumpkin, and to me, it looks like rice pudding face mask I use. Who knows. It looks like tapioca and it tastes slightly sweet, which sounds weird to eat with a savory cheesy rice cake, but not so. The cheese isn’t very salty, so it actually a balances out really well. I’d say it like that balance of sweet and salty many Korean snacks have.
The café is a chain, so you’ll see it all over Korea. Prices are reasonable for what you get. $10 gets you a large dessert for two. Wash it down with some tea, and that’s a great way to end a date night. They also do take out. I was very skeptical about these icy delights arriving home in one piece, but they pack it in thick insulated foil that I assure you will survive even the bumpiest Korean cab ride home. Yes, even the whipped cream.
The Korean Dessert café in Songtan is outside Osan main gate, down the main strip and on your right. There is another one near Songtan city hall area ( Seojong-dong), but it was closed a week ago when I wanted to grab something. I am one of those people who can eat dessert all year long, but with the weather heating up, I am sure many can enjoy the icy deliciousness of sulbing or “snow ice”.
Address: 310-38 Sinjang 1(il)-dong, Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do
GPS Coordinates: 37.0816367, 127.0509548