In Koreatown’s modern culture, there isn’t a more beloved or frequented after-dinner dessert than patbingsoo. The sweet shaved ice dish almost always starts with a dose of red azuki beans atop a mound of snow-like ice. Modern variants have added things like fruit and even flavored ice, which gives the dessert a newfound Instagram appeal. In this episode of K-Town, host Matthew Kang travels to New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood to visit a new patbingsoo player called Sweet Moment.
Eater intern James Park, a bona-fide YouTube sensation, joins Kang at the casual hangout spot, and the duo proceed to taste through three types of shaved ice. Park explains to Kang the three different waves of Korean shaved ice, from the most basic and straightforward to the most outlandish, topped with watermelon balls and a pig-shaped ice cream scoop. And the end of the day, both Kang and Park are traditionalists: “The traditional Korean bingsoo is moving away from beans more and more,” Park says. “It’s kind of losing its own character.”