Who can resist a good soft serve swirl? In Manila, the craze for soft-serve ice cream likely began with fast-food chains and convenience stores, each one with their own special flavors and offerings (if you haven't tried your ice cream balancing act at a swirl-all-you-can stall, you're missing out). Now, we're seeing a spike in stores and cafes that offer their own soft-serve creations! And even though the –Ber months have begun, the love for this cold, comforting treat just never goes away. Here are some spots around the Metro where you can get a delicious and unique swirl!
Cow Cow Ice is ice cream brand by the well known Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory, made with the finest Hokkaido milk. Their soft serve comes in two flavors: Milk (P150) that uses milk and mascarpone, and Cheese (P170), which has the addition of cream cheese and Gouda. Try a mix of both if you can't decide on a flavor! Sometimes, you'll find limited-edition flavors like Strawberry or Valrhona Chocolate on the menu, too, but the Milk and Cheese remain staples to the brand. You can top off your ice cream with a piece of their famous cheese cookie (P60/piece), and even a slice of cheesecake (P120) for extra indulgence.
This local ice cream joint catches the eye for a couple of reasons: 1) Their colorful, decorative space, 2) The unique way they plate their ice cream cups and cones, 3) The crazy toppings each dish comes with. These reasons and more are why The Lost Bread has become one of the most easily recognizable soft serve spots in the metro. Expect to find choco-caramel popcorn, mini syringes filled with sauce, and even liquid nitrogen on their menu. Their most recent (and limited edition) flavor is a take on a Filipino candy: Hawhaw! And according to customers, it tastes just like the milky candy they know from childhood.
Another local ice cream shop that's created buzz is Black Scoop Café. They started out as a small shop in Maginhawa, but has now opened branches all over Metro Manila — that's how popular they've become! What really put them on the radar is their Milk Tea Swirl (starting at P120), which you can get with your favorite sinkers: pearls, pudding, brown sugar jelly, and more. Milk tea in soft serve form? Yes, please! Other flavors you can get at Black Scoop include their signature Black Mascarpone, White Rabbit, Yakult, Ghirardelli Chocolate, and more.
Kiss the Tiramisu is a luxury Korean ice cream shop and cafe with two branches in Manila: Salcedo Village and Trinoma. As the name suggests, this chic cafe's specialty is the Tiramisu Ice Cream (P265): milky vanilla soft serve, creamy mascarpone, coffee sauce, and chocolate shavings. Basically, everything you love about a classic tiramisu, made into an ice cream sundae! Did we mention it comes it the classiest plastic goblet that you can take home? Aside from the classic tiramisu flavor, you can also get Matcha Tiramisu (P265), the Korean dessert Injeolmi (P265), and if you're feeling extra fancy, treat yourself to the Midas Touch Ice Cream (P295) with edible 24K gold.
Just this year, this premium artisan soft serve ice cream shop from Sydney opened its first Manila branch. Aqua S pride itself in unique flavors and toppings; their signature swirl is the Sea Salt flavor, which has a cute pastel blue hue. Try it in a cup (P95 to P160) or a cone (P160), on its own or swirled with another flavor. You'll have to hurry if you want a taste of their other special soft-serve flavors because they change the menu every two weeks! Some flavors they've offered in the past include Ube Cheesecake, Thai Tea, Milo, and Honey Calamansi just to name a few. Keep an eye out on their social media pages to see what flavor you can get! You can also get your ice cream with fun toppings like popping candy, fairy floss (aka cotton candy in Australian lingo), and grilled marshmallows.
Calling all avocado lovers, this next spot is perfect for you! Local dessert stall Avocadoria turns this Pinoy favorite fruit into a super creamy soft serve. The Avocado Lover (P110/8 oz, P125/12oz) is topped with avocado slices, chia seeds, crushed graham, nuts, and pearls. And if the existence of avocado soft serve wasn't enough, another great thing about Avocadoria is their mission to stand by Filipino farmers by giving them opportunities to uplift their livelihoods and showcase their freshly harvested avocados. Supporting local means everything, props to you, Avocadoria!
% Arabica is a third-wave coffee shop from Kyoto, Japan, that quickly gained a following among Filipino coffee lovers when they first came to Manila. Their newly-opened branch at Podium offers an exclusive treat: the % Soft Serve! Arabica's % Soft Serve (P135) is a coffee-flavored soft serve served in an espresso-sized cup, and according to satisfied customers, it packs a punch. You can expect the same great coffee quality you get in their drinks, with the right balance of milkiness and sweetness. If you fancy having your daily cup of coffee in ice cream form, you know where to go!
Vegans and lactose-intolerant readers, you don't have to miss out on all the greatness of soft-serve ice cream! You'll be happy to know that there's a place for you: Shoobie Sorbet is the country's first vegan soft serve sorbet, made with real fruits and no artificial flavors. Try their berry-based swirls on its own (P89/small, P139/medium, P179/large), or try their Shoobie Bowl (P189) loaded with sliced bananas, walnut oat crumble, and chia pudding. We're sure even ice cream lovers will be BERRY happy with this alternative!