When we interviewed Magnum and Unilever RFM Ice Cream, Inc. brand manager Brian Chanyungco at the launch of Magnum Gold last February, we asked—no, begged—him to bring Magnum Honeycomb Crunch to the Philippines.
We had no idea that just a month later, we would get the chance to enjoy honeycomb and more with my very own Magnum creation.
“Is it your first time to try Make My Magnum?” asked Cat, our Pleasure Maker, one beautiful March day.
We nodded, a little overwhelmed by the choices that lay ahead. There were 18 toppings to choose from—pretzels, Speculoos cookies, yoghurt nibs, roasted almonds, chocolate pearls, freeze-dried raspberries, dried mangoes, gold nuggets, chili flakes, parmesan popcorn, queso de bola shavings and more.
We had to pick three.
“Honeycomb crunch, sea salt flakes and… should we get pistachios or potato chips?” we asked Cat.
“You already have something salty so you might want to try pistachios,” she said.
She put our toppings into a cocktail shaker, gave them a quick shake and asked, “Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?”
“Vanilla,” was our quick reply.
Did we want our ice cream to be dipped in milk, dark, gold or white chocolate? “Our chocolates are made from 100 percent pure Belgian chocolate,” Cat said, standing over vats of beautiful, glistening melted chocolate.
“Milk, please,” we said, resisting the urge to dunk our faces into one of the vats.
Cat dipped our Magnum in Belgian milk chocolate before pouring toppings over both sides.
“You might want to try our limited-edition Magnum Gold for your drizzle,” she said.
We nodded and she drizzled gold Belgian chocolate over the ice cream and added a little Belgian chocolate Magnum coin.
Soon, we were hearing that familiar crack, but this time it was the sound of us biting into our very own Magnum creation.
We loved it and wanted to do it again.
There are up to 250,000 possible combinations you can make at the Make My Magnum bar, and this experience will soon be available to the public when Magnum Manila opens its doors at SM Aura’s Sky Park on April 8.
On opening day, the first 500 visitors will get to make their Magnum for free.
“We are an ice cream company, we find ways to bring ice cream closer to people,” said Brian. “In Magnum, we’re a lot of fun, a little crazy and always different.”
The Magnum Manila store will be open only for a year. Twenty-one other stores are set to open in other parts of the world including Cannes, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro and Paris.
The Make My Magnum bar may be its centerpiece, but Magnum Manila has a lot more to offer. Don’t let the term “pop-up store” fool you. Magnum Manila is a fully functioning restaurant featuring the modern architecture of Ed Calma.
Its savory menu was developed by Him Uy de Baron, the owner of Nomama and the executive chef of Chef Cuisine catering. “We wanted something accessible that the whole family can enjoy. We wanted classics; we wanted something you would crave for. Comfort food but using really premium ingredients. What you will have here has been painstakingly thought about—what kind of bacon do we use, what beef are we using,” Him said.
We’re big fans of the Cajun Spiced Chicken Poppers with white bacon gravy and spice honey. We really enjoyed the Asian Steak Salad (grilled steak tossed with greens, wonton skin, candied nuts in sriracha and honey dressing), too.
We’ve also heard great things about the Cocoa Rubbed Roast Chicken, the Bacon Fries (“The fries are handcut potatoes and are fried in bacon fat with bacon bits and parmesan,” said Brian.), the Magnum Burger and the Sous Vide Chocolate Carbonara (sous vide egg, artisanal bacon, micro arugula and fresh shaved parmesan).
For the main course, our pick was the Seared Salmon. Brian agreed. “It’s filling so you don’t feel like you missed out, but leave enough space for dessert.”
At Magnum Manila, space for dessert is very important.
Miko Aspiras, an award-winning pastry chef who won five gold medals in different international competitions and who is also a hotel pastry chef, created an incredible Magnum-inspired dessert menu that would satisfy your sweet tooth.
“When I found out it was for Magnum, I got excited and I really researched. I wanted to prove that what we have here is better than what they are serving in other countries,” Miko said.
His creations are influenced heavily by his background in fine dining and his passion for joining pastry competitions. The desserts are all so good (and so beautifully plated) that we couldn’t pick a favorite.
Cookie lovers will love the Cookie Dough Skillet (warm chocolate chip cookie dough topped with two vanilla Magnum bars, dark chocolate and chopped pecans). Pink Friday (strawberry marbled cheesecake on a bed of Speculoos tea cookies and strawberry Nerds, topped with a pink chocolate dusted vanilla Magnum and strawberry coulis) is pure genius. Adding Nerds to the symphony of flavors is a brilliant idea.
“This is my outlet. I usually work on really serious stuff. but here I can have fun. I can play around with ingredients,” said Miko.
As early as now, Magnum Apple Pie (vanilla Magnum coated in caramel sauce, served with a slice of warm apple pie, chunky apple mash, pistachios and whipped cream) has hardcore fans including Brian. “That glaze on top is chef Miko’s homemade salted caramel fudge. When I tasted it, I was like, ‘where was this my entire life?’”
The Apple Pie is chef Miko’s favorite, too: “It has strong flavor combinations. It makes sense. I really like it.”
Others swear by Death By Chocolate (deep dark chocolate lava cake and chocolate truffle Magnum topped with brownie pieces and chocolate crispearls) and Red Velvet (moist red velvet cake and cream cheese paired with vanilla Magnum and dark chocolate sauce, crushed pistachios and red velvet crumbs).
Rainbow Dream (white chocolate-covered vanilla Magnum bar covered in dreamy rainbow cake crumble on a moist slice of cream cheese rainbow cake) got a thumbs-up as well.
The Fondue For Two looks fun. “Our fondue is really pretty. I thought of this tea-time theme because high tea is trendy now,” chef Miko said.
The servings are generous and the desserts are great for sharing.
Although chef Miko wants people to enjoy his plated desserts, he also encourages them to enjoy mixing their own flavors. “That’s the fun part about the bar—you can create whatever you like. We’re open to suggestions on toppings and the plated desserts you’d like to see.”
And if you want to try Make My Magnum but have a hard time choosing, there are signature combinations available. Try Gold Rush (chocolate ice cream, dark Belgian chocolate, parmesan popcorn, chocolate crunch balls, white chocolate drizzle) or Salty + Sweet (vanilla ice cream, white Belgian chocolate, parmesan popcorn, roasted almonds, queso de bola shavings, white chocolate drizzle), or Snack Attack (chocolate ice cream, Belgian milk chocolate, pop rocks, potato chips, chili flakes, white chocolate drizzle).
You can order these or make your own for just P100. Brian said, “We’re not in the business of setting up restaurants, but putting smiles on people’s faces. This is a brand that’s built on experience. We’re here not to earn money, but to bring the Magnum experience to people.”
“Magnum is now a venue,” said Andrea Huang, Magnum assistant brand manager. “It’s your place to escape from stress and spoil yourself and give yourself time to indulge every once in a while.”
Magnum Manila opens on April 8 at SM Aura’s Sky Park. Follow Magnum on Twitter and Instagram (@magnum_ph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/MagnumPH) to find out how you can be one of the first 500 to make your own Magnum for free.