The first Bing Box opened in the East Village in New York City in 2016. It made a splash with soft-serve that comes out in technicolor swirls and colored cones, or the Korean shaved ice bingsu that tumbles out of specially designed machines, to be showered with Fruity Pebbles. Since then, owners Scott Lin and Matt Liong have been contacted an incalculable number of times by would-be franchisees hailing from all over the country, clamoring to own an off-shoot of the social media-perfect, imminently Instagrammable variations on the now wildly popular Korean shaved ice dessert bingsu.
So it was with Korban Su and Christine Wu. Theirs was the usual story: they had seen something that had gone viral on social media. “What they saw was a Youtuber,” Lin says. “[The Youtuber] had come to our store to do a segment… there were 5 million views on that.”
This is how we landed the first franchise, which opened last month in Trinity Groves.
Before they opened their first Bing Box in the East Village, Lin and Liong both worked for a Korean food manufacturer. On a business trip to Los Angeles, they tried Korean shaved ice. “A lightbulb just clicked,” Lin says. “We loved the texture and the flavor and the lightness and the fluffiness of it.”
They traveled to Korea to pitch their idea for a machine that would accomplish what they had in mind. They collaborated with their manufacturer to determine whether flavors would come as a syrup, jam, or powder. Their notion: rather than drizzling ice with syrup, to infuse the flavor into the ice itself. The flavored liquid is poured into the machine in front of you, freezes instantly, and descends in a cascade of flavored snow that fills a square, plastic container. Each order, the flavors change; you watch your dessert being built.
The decisions are intense. Three digital menu boards take up more space than the East Village shop could ever possibly hold. They offer soft serve in flavors like honeydew and Thai tea. They offer smoothies, and milkshakes, and waffle cones whose hues belie flavors like red velvet cake, matcha, and coconut.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with the mango bingsu I tried. Shaved ice comes in pre-set box options (with toppings determined for you), should you encounter brain freeze in facing the menu boards.
It’s supposed to be ethereal. I did not find it to be. The flavor was intensely sweet, the ice quickly turned soupy, and the mango spooned over the top was unripe and tart. I’ve had far better bingsu at some of the other places that offer it in Dallas. Better were the soft serve flavors, which change seasonally. The honeydew was cool, fruity, and lightly floral. The Thai tea was excellent. Each cone is hefty, smooth, and lovely. I’d go back for those anytime.
As for the cartoon, amped-up version of bingsu, we have a number of excellent bingsu spots in Dallas. None so social media-friendly, of course. And none, till now, in Trinity Groves.