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Summer treats with an Asian twist

Cafes put soy, mangoes and sticky rice cakes into cool desserts


Hot weather brings out the summer treats at cafes and dessert shops across the nation. While that generally signifies bingsu (Korean shaved ice dessert), ice cream and gelato, a growing number of establishments are taking their cue from Asian ingredients. Fueled by the “well-being” movement and a well-traveled palate, three spots dish out eclectic riffs off the cool dessert genre.
  
Mango Six

The name is a dead giveaway for the Apgujeong-based flagship store of this dessert cafe franchise. Clearly, mangoes play a leading role at Mango Six.

“We bring them in fresh,” said PR team head Kang Hyun-wook, 35, stressing the quality of their mangoes.

The tropical fruit is worked into a wide range of drinks and pudding-style confections that have been inspired by Hong Kong sweets. 

Mango Six offers a Hong Kong-inspired Asian summer dessert with their refreshing “mango (coconut) ice and rice ball” treat. Rich coconut yogurt ice cream and nubs of sticky rice cake adorn a bowl full of slushed-up pureed mango. (Mango Six)
Mango Six offers a Hong Kong-inspired Asian summer dessert with their refreshing “mango (coconut) ice and rice ball” treat. Rich coconut yogurt ice cream and nubs of sticky rice cake adorn a bowl full of slushed-up pureed mango. (Mango Six)

Fans of fro-yo can even enjoy self-serve yogurt ice cream replete with a selection of 10 toppings.

One can clearly see Asian influences in items like Mango Six’s “mango spoon and tapioca” drink, which conjures up those beloved bubble teas.

Pureed mango and coconut milk, in lieu of milk tea or purple taro root, are layered over fat black orbs of the chewy starch to make for a considerably more smoothie-like creation.

Rich yet tangy coconut yogurt ice cream tops a mound of slushed-up pureed mango littered with soft nubs of sticky rice cake in their “mango (coconut) ice and rice ball” dessert, while mango yogurt ice cream adorns a bowl full of tapioca, coconut milk and pureed mango in their “mango ice and tapioca” dish.

In a nod to the “well-being” movement, the menu also provides the total calorie count for each dessert.

The flagship store in Apgujeong is open 24 hours, daily. Mango desserts and drinks cost 5,700 won to 6,800 won. Additional tapioca costs 500 won. Yogurt ice cream (four flavors) with toppings (10 varieties) costs 25 won per gram.

To get there go to Apgujeong Subway Station Line 3, Exit 2. Walk to Galleria Department Store, turn right and walk several blocks to the Hakdong Intersection. Turn right and walk to the now-defunct Cinecity Theater. Turn right and walk a couple of blocks. Mango Six will be on the left.

For more information call (02) 518-7266 or visit www.mangosix.co.kr.


Coffee Chu

Churros may be the main feature of this hip Hannam-dong cafe, but it is Coffee Chu’s quartet of healthy smoothies that jumps out at you, primarily because it is rare for a joint that specializes in fried doughnut-like pastries to pair them with beverages made from soy, tofu and mountain yam.

“We went for ‘well-being’ drinks that weren’t too sugary to counterbalance our sweet churros,” manager Lee Ji-eun, 26, explained.

Coffee Chu blends silken tofu, soy milk and specially ripened bananas to create their mild and frosty Tofu smoothie (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
Coffee Chu blends silken tofu, soy milk and specially ripened bananas to create their mild and frosty Tofu smoothie (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

Served up in adorable jam jar-like jugs, Chu’s Tofu, Soy Nut, Farmer’s and White Horse smoothies are most definitely a guilt-free indulgence.

The Tofu, Soy Nut and Farmer’s all work from a common base of soy milk.

Soft, silken tofu and specially ripened bananas are added to the Tofu version, resulting in a mild, creamy affair.

Walnuts and red beans give the Soy Nut its sweet, dessert-like allure, while a blend of five grains including barley and Job’s tears gives the aptly-christened Farmer’s drink its meal-like heft.

Mountain yam and milk are imbued with acacia honey in the White Horse.

Opening hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Tofu, Soy Nut, Farmer’s, White Horse smoothies cost 7,000 won, or can be ordered as a set with a fritters churro for 9,500 won.

To get there go to Hangangjin Subway Station Line 6, Exit 3 and walk straight past Passion 5. Turn left after passing Kyotofu. Coffee Chu is on the left. For more information call (02) 790-6821 or visit www.coffeechu.co.kr.

Cafe Nothing

Travels through Japan inspired Cafe Nothing owner Jang Jin-gi, 35, to put red bean-free kakigori (Japanese shaved ice dessert) and a moffle (short for mochi waffle) on the menu of his Hongdae cafe.

His rainbow kakigori pleases the child in all of us with its bright stripes of strawberry, melon and peach syrups. Condensed milk and a sprig of mint decorate the simple and sweet summer dessert. 
Cafe Nothing tickles the senses with their vibrantly colored rainbow kakigori — a Japanese shaved ice treat decorated with stripes of strawberry, peach and melon syrup, ribbons of condensed milk and a sprig of mint. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
Cafe Nothing tickles the senses with their vibrantly colored rainbow kakigori — a Japanese shaved ice treat decorated with stripes of strawberry, peach and melon syrup, ribbons of condensed milk and a sprig of mint. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

Jang also concocts a mochi (Japanese rice cake) waffle using a special machine he got from Japan.

“We make our own batter with sticky rice and a little bit of sticky rice cake,” he said.

The dainty square (crisp and waffle-like on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside) is painstakingly coated with a blueberry jelly-like sauce, chunks of banana, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Opening hours are from 1 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. Cafe Nothing is closed every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Kakigori comes in five flavors, costs 2,500 won and needs to be ordered with another item on the menu or a second order of kakigori. The moffle costs 6,000 won.

To get there go to Hongdae Subway Station Line 2, Exit 8. Turn right and then turn left at FamilyMart. Walk two blocks and turn right into the street with a FamilyMart on its left. Walk several blocks uphill and turn left at the next FamilyMart. Cafe Nothing is on the left. For more information call (02) 323-0916 or visit blog.naver.com/oscarjjang.

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)
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