Bing Soul


OH, they’ve had these in China for about ten years, says the smiley lady when I start asking about a contraption behind the counter that looks as if Wallace and Gromit mated a cellophane dispenser with a machine gun.

Five minutes later we’re still chatting except now I’m also slowly being hypnotised by the rubbery backwards and forwards motion of a mechanical arm thingy that is languidly shaking together the ingredients of my cup of passion fruit tea at cha-cha pace. Or at least passion fruit tea is what it will say it is on the bill.

Anyway, I know by now that if it wasn’t for the rubber arm thingy then the staff would have very painful human arms from shaking shakes and teas and drinks all day. “Many hours, very sore,” is how it was put to me. Indeed.

And I will also know what the cellophane machine gun does because I’m sitting at one of those booths at the side and the lady has come out to the table to demonstrate how to pierce the Bing Soul logoed and branded cellophane lid that’s as snug and as tight as a snare drum – thanks to the cellophane machine gun – with a big fat straw shaped like a spear tip at one end. Pointy bit down first are the clear instructions, I receive. Hmmm, I suspect I may not be coming across as super-intelligent here tonight.

What I’m still not sure about is the splendidly named No3 Coffee BingSu. This I randomly ordered from a long list on the wall with only the cowardly proviso that I avoid red beans, yellow bean powder, cream cheese and rice cake which seem to feature in quite a few of the Bing Su. It now sits before me like a dark and forbidding island. I don’t know what it is. Sweet, sour, savoury? All of the above? It looks innocuously like a giant cartoon bowl of breakfast cereal, but one that glistens darkly in parts, looks crunchy and nutty, gives occasional glimpses of something very cold and very white beneath its clumpy domed surface and comes with a bowl of condensed milk of all things on the side, and a jug of hot coffee.

I’m more comfortable with the No 1 Fruity Tootie Waffle that sits on its own stand like a giant pock-marked and tan trumpet that’s been silenced by stuffing its interior with ice cream and fruit and that’s incidentally setting a little internal eat-this-quick clock ticking in me as I see it is all sliding and melting majestically downwards as the hot waffle does its work. Wire in is clearly the answer to this.

It’s 9.30pm incidentally. This dessert restaurant, as it is billed, is by no means completely full, but it's surprisingly busy with booths and tables of what I’m taking to be students. Bing Soul, I think, is Korean, on the outward edge of that stretch of spontaneous Chinatown that’s spreading along Glasgow’s Dumbarton Road and is being created almost entirely by the huge influx of students to the uni up the hill. They do a big thing here in their own ice-creams and teas, cakes and milk shakes, smoothies and snow ices – whatever the latter are. But looking at other tables the Bing Su are where the action is at, and looking at the internet, as I am, then Patbingsu (shaved ice and red bean) and Bingsu (not so strict on the red bean) are an evolving dish.

What does it taste like? At first, like a bowl of sweet, crunchy, nut cereal; hard, crispy and for a whole scary moment savoury…then into ice-cream and sweetness. I pour over the coffee and spoon on condensed milk and it all mixes and melts and becomes a strangely pleasant experience.

The tea with the straw? I may have mis-ordered. I don’t think it's tea, I do think it’s chilled chunks of fresh fruit, their own juice, refreshingly light.

Bing Soul then? Kinda strange. But in a good way.

Bing Soul

90 Dumbarton Road,


0141 339 2338

Menu: Extraordinary Korean desserts laced with many strange (to me anyway) ingredients. Waffles, smoothies, cheesecakes too. 5/5

Service: Order at counter where a friendly and helpful lady explained what some of it was all about. 4/5

Price: Not quite buttons but a waffle the size of a trumpet and a Bingsu on the scale of a medium-sized Christmas pudding were £6 each. 5/5

Atmosphere: Relaxed cafe with a few booths and a steady stream of customers popping in for dessert well into the night. 3/5

Food: If you’ve not tried a Bing Su then I suggest you do, they could very easily be the next big things and are something fresh for the jaded Western palate. 6/10