Soft-serve Seoul: Milky Bee
The pulsating hub of Myeongdong requires some careful navigation, but as I made my way past the throngs of people, I encountered an ice cream parlor that vaguely resembles a Carvel cake I once ate. Milky Bee’s pastel exterior is adorably equipped to handle curious tourists — lines formed quite quickly, and it wasn’t long before the two young employees had their hands full.
The cute imagery isn’t surprising when you consider that Milky Bee’s parent company, Schneeballen Korea (those cookie balls you crack to eat), is a powerhouse in the local confectionery business and enjoys quite a consistent following. According to a representative, “Milky Bee was established in order to change the dessert trend and to show its unique taste with high quality” and uses “premium quality organic milk for (its) products.”
Milky Bee caters to three types of customers: those looking for typical ice cream options, those who want a health-conscious alternative to regular ice cream and the many others who want to walk away with something pretty to pose with in a selfie. Their menu caters to all of the above. While each dessert still comes with a standard vanilla base, topping options such as caramel brownie and mint cookie fulfill a dessert enthusiast’s need for comfort-food flavors. Health-conscious customers, by contrast, might prefer cereal and berries for their ice cream, but those in need of a nice selfie companion will bee-line for the banana and strawberry toppings — they’re the belles of the selfie ball, so to speak.
We went with banana and mint cookie, and to call each one sweet would be an understatement. The potency of the flavors almost overwhelmed the ice cream itself, but that soft, milky texture stayed true and intact. And, who are we kidding? These really did make for a snazzy photo prop.
Though Milky Bee might be aiming for a pure and organic image, the experience felt more like visiting a candy boutique, perhaps in the 1960s New York era: sophisticated, yet whimsical.