When the afternoon heat gets too much to bear, nothing cools us like a glass of candied fruit, pulses and beans buried in an avalanche of evenly shaved ice with milk, and topped with a scoop of ice cream, a sliver or slab of leche flan (creme caramel) and a spoonful of ube haleya (purple yam).
Whether you prefer it simple and unadorned, or bursting with a dozen or more ingredients, you are definitely spoiled for choice. Here is Inquirer Lifestyle’s 2016 list of the best halo-halo in the city. Chef Jessie at Rockwell, P250
Chef Jessie Sincioco and her staff make their own minatamis. Banana, camote, jackfuit and coconut strips are cooked separately in a sugar syrup and carefully spooned one after the other into a wide-mouthed goblet. She said, however, that the secret is in the milk. Kanin Club, P165
When thoroughly mixed, the halo-halo at Kanin Club is a milky, purplish color because of the ube ice cream. We liked the generous amount of minatamis na saba, and the use of a footed bowl made this dessert look even more enticing. Via Mare, P112
with ice cream, add P50
The special halo-halo at Via Mare comes with a choice of ice cream: ube, vanilla or chocolate. We opted for vanilla and liked the toasted caramel slurry after mixing up everything.
Little Quiapo, P120
A long-time favorite of Quezon City residents, Little Quiapo on Malakas Street just behind the SSS Building is full most afternoons of elderly couples and families ordering pancit palabok and halo-halo. There are three halo-halo sizes to choose from: regular, special (with a scoop of ice cream) and fiesta (chocolate and strawberry syrups, toasted pinipig, barquillos, rainbow sprinkles and a cocktail umbrella).
Stick to the “special” and savor cubes of candied camote, monggo, ube haleya, leche flan and sweetened garbanzos. Chowking, P80
A commercial staple, Chow King’s halo-halo never fails to hit the spot when you want something cold and refreshing on the go.
The fast-food chain has perfected its version that is not too sweet, not bland, just right. In time for summer, it has reintroduced a “milky white” variant topped with leche flan, macapuno strips, vanilla ice cream and toasted pinipig. The Peninsula Manila, P720
Halo-Halo Harana can be a bit pricey but it’s the overall experience of relishing a huge glass of sweetened langka, macapuno, nata de coco, garbanzos, sweet beans, gelatin, ube and toasted pinipig crowned with shaved ice, ube royale ice cream and very dense cubed leche flan while being serenaded by a string ensemble at The Lobby.
Razon’s of Guagua, P105
The phenomenal minimalist halo-halo remains on our top list. This milky-sweet mixture is beyond satisfaction, with its basic ingredients and none of the foreign fruit elements—just sweetened saba cubes, macapuno, leche flan and milk, topped with superfine, feathery soft ice shaving. Fely J’s Kitchen, P130
We like it for its minimal ingredients, too: sweetened banana, langka, leche flan and milk. At the first dunk of the spoon into the tall beer mug, you instantly see how the finely shaved ice considerably plays a big role in making the cold concoction smooth and creamy —almost the consistency of melted ice cream.
The banana is not mushy at all. The sweet, sticky texture of langka also adds to the thick, compact mixture. Nathaniel’s Bakeshop, P100
The multitude of ingredients in one tall glass does wonders, in heaping order: sweetened beans, macapuno, ube halaya, langka, red and green gelatin, kaong, garbanzos, milk, freshly crushed ice, cornflakes, leche flan and ube ice cream.
The merry melange of sweets has just the right quantity of milk (served separately in a plastic cup) and ice to bind everything into a rich and creamy indulgence. Milky Way, P175
Still the best since the 1960s, Milky Way’s version retains the freshness and proper ratio of ingredients that account for the unique taste of its halo-halo. The sweetened beans are chewy, not soggy; the saging na saba and camote, firm and tasty. It’s very filling, as well. Guests usually have it split into two glasses.