It may be the middle of winter, but that isn’t stopping people from getting their fix of traditional Korean shaved ice at Sulbing. Every branch of this cafe chain is always packed, and with two locations in Changwon, you’ve got to see (and taste) what all the hype is about.
“Sulbing” means “snow ice” in Korean (hanja: 雪冰). It’s a chain of dessert cafes that began in nearby Busan. A bowl of sulbing looks very similar to the familiar bingsoo, but instead of shaved ice, the white crystal flakes in your bowl are frozen milk, making your dessert sweeter and creamier. The consistency is like powdery snow — delicious, magical snow.
For toppings, you can choose a flavor from the menu. All of them will have injeolmi (인절미), a soft rice cake generously coated in sweet bean powder, and most come with a small tumbler of condensed milk. (Hot tip: you can ask for an extra if you’ve got a sweet tooth! “하나 점 도 줏에요~!”) Other flavors include yogurt and berries (요거트), cheesecake (치즈), coffee (커피), and black sesame (흑임).
My favorite is the milk and azuki red bean (밀크팥): a layer of snow, a layer of bean powder, another layer of snow, and then injeolmi, a scoop of sweet red bean paste, and dried jujubes. It’s subtler and more authentic than the other flavors I’ve tried. According to my friend, you are not supposed to mix and mash up the sulbing as you would normally do with bingsoo; instead, take small scoops of it at a time and enjoy the different flavors.
Other menu items
Besides sulbing, the cafe’s other specialty is injeolmi toast (인절미토스트): several pieces of white bread toasted with sticky rice cakes in between, topped with extremely sweet or savory additions such as honey and ice cream, garlic cheese, and citron. To drink, a variety of coffees, smoothies, and traditional and organic teas are offered. New on the menu for the winter season are two steaming warm dessert porridges: azuki red bean and sweet pumpkin, both offered with, of course, injeolmi.
Although the menu is entirely in Korean, the desserts offered are on display as photos or models, so you can simply point to whatever looks most appetizing to you. Prices range from 4,500-9,000KRW for desserts, 3,500-5,8000KRW for drinks.
My Korean friend informs me that locals come to Sulbing for evening dessert or mid-afternoon snack. If they’re on the thirstier side, two people will share a toast and get drinks; if on the hungrier side, it’s toast and sulbing. Complimentary warm or chilled green tea is offered at every Sulbing at a table near the cashier.
The original Sulbing is located in Nampo-dong in Busan,but there are several locations closer to home. In Changwon, find Sulbing in Sangnam-dong on the second floor of the Motel Grand building across the street from the large fountain, or in Yongho-dong, across the street from the large bowling alley on the second floor. Also, a new branch just opened in Palyong-dong, on the second floor of the Dream Pia (드림피아) building.
Busan original store (본점): 부산광역시 중구 광복로 54-2
Sangnam-dong: 창원시 성산구 상남동 21-12 (그랜드빌딩 201/202호)
Yongho-dong: 창원시 의창구 용호동 73-24번지 2층
Palyong-dong: 창원시 의창구 팔용동 100드림피아상가 201호
Sulbing is always busy, often crowded. If you’re planning to visit on a holiday, book a table in advance. Then when you arrive, enjoy the bustling and cozy atmosphere, the clean bathrooms, and free wi-fi. Savor every bite of your frozen Korean dessert while ignoring the freezing temperatures outside.