It's time to dress down, cool down, and turn up the air conditioning because summer has definitely arrived in Manila! Things might start to get uncomfortably warm over the next couple of weeks, but fortunately, there are tons of sweet ways to beat the heat. Indulge in some of the metro's shaved ice desserts to help you keep cool this summer!
Nathaniel Bakeshop's Halo-Halo
This bakeshop may be known for their famous buko pandan – which is also an amazing icy treat you should be binging on this summer – but you shouldn't miss out on their Halo-Halo (P100) either! Their take on the classic Pinoy treat comes in a generous serving, loaded with your favorite toppings: beans, gulaman, cornflakes, leche flan, and ube ice cream to go with the smooth and milky ice. If you like your halo-halo loaded with toppings, Nathaniel's really hits the spot.
Corazon's Minatamis na Saging
This restaurant serving Spanish-Filipino cuisine will surely hit close to home when you try timeless dishes like salpicao, lechon kawali, pancit, and more. Corazon's serves a variety of classic Filipino desserts made for the summer, like halo-halo, ginumis, and even their own homemade sorbetes. Be sure to try their Minatamis na Saging (P135), which is a bestseller. This refreshing combination of shaved ice, milk, saba, and sago will add a sweet kick to your day!
Cafe Seolhwa's Coffee Caramel Bingsu
It's no surprise that with the craze of all things Korean, Filipinos have lovingly coined this dessert as the "Korean halo-halo." This dessert usually combines soft, milky ice with fresh fruit, and other common toppings include cheesecake bits, nuts, and cream. The popularity of bingsu continues to grow, with cafes specializing in this creamy, icy dessert popping up here and there. Cafe Seolhwa stands out with its unique flavor combinations, like the Coffee Caramel Bingsu (P270), topped with coffee crunches, nuts, and caramel. It's great for those who are looking for a richer flavor or a caffeine kick.
If you like your bingsu as refreshing and fruity as possible, you'll definitely want to try the mango and cheese combination that is ubiquitous to Korean cafes. At Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe, the Mango Cheese Bingsu (P260/regular, P360/large) comes with cubes of mango, chunks of creamy cheesecake, sliced almonds, and vanilla ice cream on top. Even harder to resist, now that summer is here and mangoes are in season. It's easy to see why this is Hobing's most popular flavor!
Ikigai Kakigori's Kuromitsu Kakigori
Fans of Japanese food might be more familiar with kakigori, a shaved ice dessert similar to the Korean bingsu. The ice has the same soft, fluffy texture, but with kakigori you can expect flavors that are more associated with Japanese sweets. Ikigai Kakigori in Tomas Morato specializes in this dessert, where everything they serve is made from scratch. The Kuromitsu Kakigori (P200/solo, P260/sharing) is the most reminiscent of traditional Japanese flavors, topped with houjicha ice cream, adzuki beans, and glutinous shiratama (rice balls). The combination of flavors in textures in this kakigori makes it the perfect palate cleanser to a delicious meal.
Tsujiri's Shaved Ice
Matcha is another iconic Japanese flavor, with its distinct rich and earthy flavor that is an acquired taste to many. Whether in dishes, drinks, or desserts, there are many ways that people all over the world have incorporated this ingredient. Tsujiri, originating from Uji Kyoto, sells authentic green tea drinks and matcha-infused desserts. Green tea lovers rejoiced when this brand of over 150 years opened in the Philippines last 2017, finally getting their hands on this premium matcha. Among the dessert selection, the Tsujiri Shaved Ice (P285-P305) is a popular choice no matter the season – the green tea shaved ice is loaded with azuki, mochi, chestnut, and matcha soft serve.
Rita's Italian Ice Gelati
Coming from the United States, Rita's Italian Ice is the first Italian Ice and Frozen Custard concept in the Philippines. Their flavored ice is somewhat like a sorbet and comes in several flavors, from fruity ones like Mango, Strawberry-Banana, and Watermelon, to sweeter flavors like Cookies n' Cream and Cotton Candy. While there are several ways you can enjoy Italian ice, customer's favorite thing to order is the Gelati (P170/regular, P190/large). With the Gelati, you can choose ice to pair with a frozen custard (which comes in a couple of flavors, too), and the possibilities are endless. You'll find yourself coming back to try out new combinations in no time.
Lugang Cafe's Peanut Smoothy
You might be surprised to find out that some of the most delicious shaved ice desserts are found in the elegant Lugang Cafe. After feasting on their Chinese dishes like xiao long bao, noodles, and roast duck, order one of their Smoothies to end the meal. The Peanut Smoothie (P220) has a sweet, peanut butter flavor, almost as if it's made with our favorite Chocnut and transformed into a frozen treat. You'll be surprised how generous the serving is, too, and you'll probably need a friend or two to share it with. Lugang's Peanut Smoothie is a dessert loved by kids and adults alike, and should definitely be on your list of things to try this summer!
The Dessert Kitchen's Purple In Love
This dessert parlor in Rockwell is the place to go for Asian-inspired desserts: they have it all, from egg waffles to puddings, to sago and mochi. The Dessert Kitchen's award-winning creation is called Purple In Love (P258), and it's one of the most unique shaved ice dishes you'll ever try. The grape-flavored shaved ice is topped with rice balls, grapes, taro mochi ice cream, and some interesting Kyoho grape seaweed balls that resemble sago and pop in your mouth. It's no wonder the dish is named Purple In Love – it's got everyone falling hard.
Vampire Penguin's Strawberry Cheesecake
This spot originated in California and makes shaved ice desserts that are inspired by different cultures Instead of serving in a bowl like most other places, Vampire Penguin serves their desserts in a mound on top of a plate, making their presentation creatively different from what you're used to. Their popular Strawberry Cheesecake (P280) uses strawberry and vanilla shaved snow, crushed graham crackers, strawberries, white chocolate sauce, and condensed milk to make a decadent yet refreshing dessert. Vampire Penguin doesn't skimp on toppings either, so you'll be sure to have the best bite every time.