The market is undeniably different in the smaller city: peak and off-peak hours play no part in determining traffic times nor periods of high (customer) volume. Specialty food stores tend to only operate in the late afternoon and evening hours, but do not extend their services into late-night; restaurants are only fully functional past noon, and never prepared to open past 10 PM.
We began our trek from Superstore around 4:45 PM, unaware that a lineup had already begun to form outside the green-hued establishment.
As we marched across the final stretch of shops, a small vehicle pulled into and promptly stopped at the entranceway. The passenger door was flung open, revealing a thin-framed, short-shorts-wearing girl with a messy bun. She took one glance at the steadily growing lineup, grimaced, and absentmindedly took a step forward.
Bolting across the parking lot, I managed to snap into the queue just before the thin non-commuter and another middle-aged lady joined the lineup. Approximately several minutes after 5:00 PM, the doors opened and customers slowly filled the dessert parlour.
The Melon Bingsoo was the single item on my mind: a towering pyramid of fluffy ice decorated with small, spherical melonballs enough to feed five. The cashier at the Robson outpost had informed me that the twenty-dollar creation was an item exclusively limited to the months of June to August, and ensured that it was available at both locations.
Contrary to his words, I was devastated when we were told the opposite. To make matters worse, only specific flavours of bingsoo could be ordered in a large size - quantity control was executed to prevent particular items from selling out too rapidly.
I longed for a mix of Blueberry and Cheesecake, seeing as Melon was no longer an option. Unfortunately, only fruit flavours could be compiled in a half-and-half format.
Taiyaki, or bungeoppang in Korean, was given a unique twist with the addition of a layer of flaky pastry that I hadn't witnessed being done anywhere else (at least, not in the GTA anyway). Priced at $10 for three pieces, the crisp, rectangular pieces of carby goodness were quite economical in my opinion.
Contained within the first metal bowl was a mountain of soft, milky ice flakes topped with cheesecake crumbs, slice almonds, cubed pieces of crust-less cheesecake, and a generous squirt of airy whipped cream. As one would have assumed, the texture was almost identical to that of the Green Tea Bingsoo I had tasted at the Robson location. The sole difference was that its downtown counterpart seemed to possess an even fluffier, more flavourful base.
Contrary to its appearance, the cheesecake itself was light and largely refreshing. Instead of adopting the rich creaminess of New York-Style Cheesecake, Snowy Village had founded a recipe that was equal parts satisfying and silky smooth. Digging deeper, it was discovered that extremely fine graham crumbs had been spooned in alternate layers within the chilly dessert.
Where the Blueberry Bingsoo filled the void for fresh fruit, the Cheesecake Bingsoo catered to our cravings for something substantial. Both were devoured in earnest, casually escorting bitter feelings for the absence of Melon Bingsoo out the door.
Throughout our munching, it wasn't uncommon to see customers leech into the shop and trudge back out to their vehicle(s) with insulated takeout bags of shaved ice. Given that the waiting list was constantly growing, it was almost as if the shop owners themselves preferred customers opt for to-go items instead.
Seating is comfortable and Wi-Fi is stable. Most importantly, the washroom is clean, easy to locate, and visually appealing - the brick wall applique is especially noteworthy. Service was friendly for the most part, but lacking in enthusiasm when compared to the shy smiles down on Robson.