Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Best Patbingsu in Korea

옛날팥빙수 from 외할머니솜씨 in 전주한옥마을
According to Kelly, the best place to get 팥빙수 (patbingsu, a wonderful Korean dessert) in Jeonju is at "Grandmother's Best" (외할머니 솜씨). I'd wager that it's the best place to get 팥빙수 in all of Korea, period.

Weh-halmeoni Som-shi roughly translates to "Grandmother's Skills". 외할머니 is your mother's mother, and 솜씨 is a tough-to-translate word that refers to the manual skills required to cook and craft things well. It's like dexterity, but mostly for food and art.

In any case, Grandma works in a tiny shop wedged in between many traditional buildings of the same ancient architectural style in Jeonju's traditional Hanok Village -- 전주한옥마을, a popular spot for tourists and local Korean families alike. The many Hanok Villages scattered throughout Korea are known for being neighborhoods absent of the breakneck busyness for which Korea is increasingly becoming known but, on the other hand, full of cultural treasures in the realms of food, art, and history.

Jeonju's Hanok Village in particular has some excellent food, and this 옛날팥빙수 is a prime example: a medium-sized bowl filled with condensed milk and shaved ice, topped with some of the sweetest red bean paste I've ever had, delicious, chewy homemade rice cakes, and black sesame powder was enough for three, but I tell you I could have finished it all on my own, it was that good. The dessert really satisfied the sweet tooth I've had for the past few days. All of it is homemade, too -- Grandma doesn't use nothin' from a can.

What a great treat for an extremely hot day! Kelly and Katelyn also enjoyed it, as you can probably tell from the photo below. The former is not even ashamed to admit that she once came here alone just to have a bowl all by herself. It's summer; this is a reasonable thing.
Kelly and Katelyn with our 옛날팥빙수 (traditional patbingsu).
"Grandma's Best" (외할머니솜씨/Weh-halmeoni Som-shi) is located in the Jeonju Hanok Village. The address is: 113-4 Gyo-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju City. A bowl of the best patbingsu ever is just ₩6,000. If the lines are as long as they are in the photo below, you can also get take-out!
Super-long lines outside of the shop after we left. We beat the rush!

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