In which your blogger attempts, at great inconvenience, to sample every commercially-available dessert in the Greater Glasgow area so you don’t have to.
Yes, it’s been that long since I’ve written one of these posts that I had to go back and look up my traditional introduction. But, here’s the thing: I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired when it comes to locally-sourced baked goods recently. In a dessert desert, if you will.
But now, two innovative new establishments in Glasgow’s West End are seeking to change that.
Bubble waffles are a Hong Kong street dessert given a Scottish twist at Bing Soul, a new Asian fusion coffee and dessert cafe on Dumbarton Road, right at the top of Byres Road. What was once served plain from street carts in the territory has in recent years been given an Instagram-friendly makeover, with the distinctive bubblewrap shaped waffles used as a cone to make a (relatively) portable ice cream sundae.
The Chinese owners of Bing Soul don’t claim 100% authenticity with their waffled, which in Hong Kong are apparently crispier and sweeter – but if you’re going to load it up with luxury Yee Kwon ice cream there’s only so sweet you can go. There’s no denying that the loaded desserts look absolutely jaw-dropping – but how do they taste?
I ordered the Berry Nutty (waffle cone, coconut ice cream, coconut flakes, fruity pebbles, strawberry sauce) while the long-suffering Jehane opted for a bananaless take on the salted caramel ice cream-featuring Banana Split. The first thing that struck me about the dessert was just how easy it was to eat – despite the bundles of napkins we were offered “just in case”, and all comedy photo opportunities above aside. Each of the light, fluffy waffle bubbles almost peels away as you eat, so as long as you’re keeping an eye on the ice cream centre you’re golden.
The waffles are priced between £5.99 and £6.49 depending on the combination ordered: a price which, although it didn’t strike me as particularly expensive for the West End, covers the cost of the premium ingredients. As the cafe owner explained to us while we tucked in to our treats, you could buy two tubs of most decent ice cream brands for the price of a single tub of Yee Kwan ice cream – and the difference definitely came across in the creamy coconut variety. The ice cream manufacturer, who won funding from Deborah Meaden on Dragon’s Den back in 2015, is of Chinese descent herself, so it’s a good fit for Bing Soul.
Bubble waffles may be the showstopper at Bing Soul, but they’re not the only dessert in town: you can also try Bing Su, a Korean dessert made from shaved ice and sweet toppings, as well as an ever-changing selection of homemade, individual cheesecakes. Among the varieties on offer on the night we visited were After Eight, banoffee, Ferrero Rocher and raspberry and snowball – the last of which, if it wasn’t for the fact that we were there to try something new, could have tempted me.
The cafe also offers a selection of bottled drinks imported from Asia (Jehane was very excited to see the shelf of Ramune) as well as teas, coffees and “snow ice” drinks made with Glasgow’s own Dear Green coffee. I was overwhelmed by the fact my snow ice latte looked just as it sounded, having never seen anything like that before, while Jehane was impressed by her matcha and red bean frozen drink, which neatly avoided the bitterness you sometimes find with matcha-based drinks.
The clean, minimalist decor, calling to mind
the pictures I’ve seen of Japanese tea houses, only adds to the ambiance of what is a really novel, and absolutely delightful, addition to Glasgow’s late night dessert scene (the cafe is open until 10pm nightly). Bing Soul, to quote my bestie, “hits my ‘everything Asian’ button and your ‘dessert’ button” – and I suspect that we’ll be frequent visitors.
Head down Byres Road to Great Western Road and turn left and you’ll find Loop and Scoop – the “UK’s first” ice cream and churros bar. Pretty branding, innovative flavours and chocolate and white chocolate taps at the counter mean this place looks full of promise – even if last week’s stowed-out press launch wasn’t the best place to get a realistic impression of the service or the quality of the products.
The special here is, surprise surprise, the “loop and scoop” – a giant churro loop served with a scoop of premium gelato, all hand-made by the team. As a taster of what to expect we dug into a sample platter of mini loops, filled churros and vanilla ice cream, served with little pots of the chocolate dips they have on tap.
While the sugar-coated churros were as decently more-ish as you would expect churros to be, the stand-outs for me were the filled ones. These generally come in Nutella, peanut butter and caramel varieties, although in the rush on the night I have a feeling that we got a bit of a mixture – not something I’m complaining about, mind, as I’m a fan of all three flavours and the mixtures were light enough to work perfectly.
The chocolate and white chocolate dipping sauces were a total dream, and while the vanilla ice cream wasn’t anything to write home about there were plenty of show-stopping treats on the counter: I ended up with a take-out tub of a Poison Apple Hallowe’en special on the bus back to down despite the rain, while the Loop and Scoop Facebook page is showcasing a similarly spooky Cadbury Screme Egg variety right now…
If dessert was a competition then Bing Soul would probably edge it on this occasion, but I’m pretty excited about both these new places – and glad that there’s a decent walk between the two, if you fancy hitting them both up on the same trip! Which one takes your fancy?
I was a guest of both restaurants, but all views are my own and unbiased.