The Bingsu brings refreshing Korean desserts to Uptown Waterloo

The Bingsu is one of Uptown Waterloo’s newest additions to its restaurant roster, offering classic hot and cold Korean desserts and bubble tea. It is Waterloo’s first Korean Bingsu speciality dessert cafe, and is family owned and operated. General and social media manager Hanna found the first few months of their opening enjoyable, despite many hardships along the way. 

“We opened up just at the end of October last year. There was a lot of rain, snow and, of course, the COVID-19 restrictions,” Hanna said. 

However, the Bingsu has made a successful debut on the food scene despite the many challenges. 

Bingsu is a Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings that sometimes include chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup and red beans. Historically, natural ice was used as the dessert base, but later artificial ice was produced and high-quality sweeteners became more commonplace.

“We draw from our Korean background, the bingsu itself is a very popular Korean dessert. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of shops in Waterloo that [make] them,” Hanna said. 

The Bingsu boasts a variety of bingsus, herbal teas, and bubble teas on their menu. The six different varieties offered at the restaurant stray from the traditional flavour of patbingsu, a rendition of the dessert adorned with red beans and condensed milk.

“My favourite one is the injeolmi bingsu. It has a roasted soybean powder, and it has red bean paste on top of it, and it has little pieces of rice cake, and ice cream. It’s my go-to bingsu for when I’m away,” Hanna said.

The family’s goal at The Bingsu is to share their Korean heritage and cuisine with as many folks in Waterloo as possible. Since the first cafe in Korea started serving bingsus in 1946, the dessert has slowly gained popularity in the West. 

The popular Korean street dessert called a “croffle,” so named because it is a cross between a croissant and a waffle, has started to gain traction at The Bingsu as well. The restaurant’s goal is to introduce traditional Korean flavours like red beans, tteok [or rice cakes], and ground nut powders to the region. Dessert conceptualization also takes cues from their diverse staff, who make menu suggestions based on dishes from their cultures as well. 

“We are seeing a lot of school clubs wanting to collaborate with us, and so we want to be more engaged with the community, finding better ways to let people know about our store,” Hanna said.