Taste Test: Korean Ice Bars

To get through the long, hot days of summer ahead, you’ll need some cool treats. And some of the tastiest ones just happen to be sitting in the freezer section of your neighborhood Korean market.

But which package should you choose?

We’re here to help. A group of KoreAm staffers and friends took on the task of taste-testing 11 Korean ice bars. Our inner 7-year-olds rejoiced. (Our stomachs, however, did not.)

Here’s the verdict.


Assi Brand Coconut Bar
Ruth Kim, intern: I like it. It’s not too overwhelming. There’s a good balance of creaminess and coconut flavor.
Audrey Ryu, intern: You feel like you should be on a beach.
Julie Ha, editor-in-chief: Yeah, it tastes like a piña colada!

Assi Brand Red Bean Bar
Steve Han, staff writer: This is old people ice cream.
Michelle Woo, online editor: Good description.
Ruth: This is like authentic red bean. And there’s a good amount of it. It’s both icy and bean-y. [Laughs]

Haitai Nougat Vanilla Ice Cream Bar
Steve: Reeeeally chocolatey.
James Kim, staff writer: Like a poor man’s Dairy Queen dipped cone.
Michelle: It’s so creamy. I really like it. Hey, can I have the rest of that?

Binggrae BB-Big Red Bean Ice Bar
Ruth: It’s more artificial tasting than the Assi Red Bean Bar.
James: I like this one more. It has a good texture.

Haitai Fresh Melon Ice Bar
James: Very sweet. I really like it.
Ruth: It reminds me of childhood! So much nostalgia!
Michelle: You can’t not like this one.


Crunch bar

Lotte Samkang Crispy Crunch & Sweet Strawberry ”Dwaeji Bar” (pig bar) [Note: Check out this hilarious World Cup-themed TV commercial for the ice cream treat.]
Esther Kim, office manager: It tastes like strawberry shortcake … sort of.
Audrey: The proportion is disappointing. There’s not enough filling and the outside tastes soggy.
James: Yeah, not very crunchy at all.


Screw bar

Lotte Strawberry Screw Bar
Audrey: Very refreshing. Not too sweet.
James: It tastes like lemonade mix.
Michelle: Is it weird that I like to bite off the outer layer first?
Esther: ME, TOO!


Yogurt and Cider

Lotte Samkang Cider and Yogurt Flavored Ice Bar
Julie: Mmmm, it’s like there are frozen Nerds that pop in your mouth!
Esther: I love the crunch!
Ethel Navales, Audrey Magazine online editor: The description is completely misleading.



Haitai Babambar
James: The bread overpowers it.
Audrey: The flavors are very separate from each other.
Julie: There’s a slight mocha taste. It’s more like a very cold cake than an ice cream bar.



Samanco Binggrae
Audrey: The outer part takes like plastic, but the red bean complements the ice cream well.
Ethel: It’s fine for someone who’s not really adventurous. It’s very vanilla. But it’s really cute. I saw pictures of it on Tumblr—that’s the reason I wanted to try it.
James: There’s a perfect ratio between the outer cover, red bean and ice cream.
Julie (to James): You’ve had many of these?
James: Very many.
Julie: The outer shell tastes like an ice cream cone. There’s a good amount of vanilla ice cream inside and a thin layer of sweet red bean. I think it’s super yummy.



Lotte Jaws
Audrey: It’s refreshing. The colors are misleading because you expect blueberry, but it’s strawberry and orange.
Ruth: I like the crunchy exterior with a kind of softer interior, filling. It’s good. It has these little sharp teeth.
James: It leaves an artificial aftertaste. Tastes like frozen Crystal Light.