Yes, the Philippines’ purple yam, or our mighty ube, is slowly taking over the world. From the insanely expensive gold flake-covered ube mousse-filled Golden Cristal Ube Donut in Williamsburg’s Manila Social Club, to the Fried Chicken with Ube Waffles at Platito in Toronto, our earthy, pretty purple ingredient is getting a modern makeover and grabbing people’s attention.
There’s even a three-week wait period for Manila Social Club’s gold-free Ube Bae Donuts.
In different parts of the world, restaurants and bakeries are serving ube cheesecakes, ice cream sandwiches, ensaymada, Rice Krispie treats, leche flan, frozen custard, bread pudding, cannoli, cookie shots, cupcakes, truffles, madeleines, macarons and even milkshakes. Ube has appeared on food trend lists released by Zagat, Thrillist, Yahoo, Yelp and GrubHub.
It’s “invading the dessert world,” GQ declares. Zagat says it’s “one part of the popularization of Filipino cuisine.” Yahoo wrote, “These purple sweets are about to begin a meteoric rise in the American food landscape.” Thrillist calls it “an international dessert sensation.”
Thrillist also tweeted: “If you haven’t tried #ube, be careful. It may become your new favorite ingredient.”
In the Philippines, ube is ube-quitous. But not all ube treats are created equally.
All the attention has inspired us to revisit our ube favorites and discover new ones.
Here’s a list of ube treats that should be on your radar—a delightful mix of old staples you should have already enjoyed, and new finds you should try.
Good Shepherd’s Ube Jam
If I ever come home from Baguio without jars of ube jam, I’ll be in serious trouble. My family has been big fans of the jam even before I was born, and so a trek to the Good Shepherd convent on Gibraltar Road is a must (though there are resellers in Manila now).
The lines are crazy sometimes and there can be a two-jar-per-person limit; but the rich, thick ube jam is always worth it. My grandma likes to scoop it out onto a pretty platter and drizzle it with melted butter. But my brother and I think it’s best eaten straight from the jar with fresh spoons. (No double-dipping!) Still my all-time favorite ube treat.
Max’s Corner Bakery’s Ube Roll Slice
Want a quick ube fix? Max’s Corner Bakery’s Ube Roll Slice is very affordable (just P29) and will hit the spot. We enjoy the soft, spongy cake and its pretty purple icing.
It has its share of fans, too. When we tried buying a slice at the Shaw Boulevard branch last week, we were told, “Pinakyaw po ng bata kanina.” We grabbed the last two slices at the Scout Tuazon branch on our way home.
Michelle’s Homemade Putong Ube
Whenever I fly to Los Angeles, this is the one thing my Tita Becky asks for as pasalubong: boxes of Michelle’s Homemade Putong Ube. Each box contains 25 delightful bites of putong ube (or putong ube with cheese). And if you want to grab boxes, go early. They sell out really fast.
Or you can try ordering online—they promise to deliver within 5 to 7 days.
For the complete list of branches and to order online, visit www.michellesputongube.com or call 0917-UBE-PUTO.
Carmen’s Best Ube Ice Cream
Inquirer Lifestyle’s Cheche Moral says, “I had it on a plane in a small cup. Bitin! I haven’t seen a pint size in the supermarket. Sooo good! Unlike other commercial ube-flavored treats, it didn’t taste synthetic. You can taste real ube and it had ube bits. If I recall correctly, it didn’t even have that fake purple color ube-flavored foods have.”
Sarsa’s Sizzling Budbud
“The Sizzling Budbud at JP Anglo’s Sarsa might look like one hot mess, but it’s delicious. It’s basically budbud kabug suman made fancy with ube butter and coco pandan coffee cream, and served on a hot plate. Best with coffee,” says Inquirer Lifestyle’s Raoul Chee Kee.
Sarsa is at Mall of Asia (2F South Veranda) and Bonifacio Global City (7th Ave corner 25th Street).
Eng Bee Tin’s Hopia Ube
Another pasalubong favorite, Eng Bee Tin’s Hopia Ube is not just popular; the family
behind the company gives it credit for saving its business in the 1980s. No wonder it named its restaurant Mr. Ube Rice and Noodle House.
Bulacan Sweets’ Ube Pastillas
Bulacan Sweets sells two kinds of ube pastillas—the softer ones in boxes, and the harder candy-like ones sold in bundles. They’re both good but our childhood favorite was the bundled ube pastillas candy.
And apparently, we’re not the only ones with this ube-session —the ube variants are often sold out. We recently found out with joy, though, that they accept reservations in their main NS Amoranto branch.
Call 7402171; visit www.bulacansweets.com.
Le Petit Soufflé’s Ube Madeleines and Scout’s Honor’s Ube and White Chocolate Cookies
Chefs Miko Aspiras and Kristine Lotilla have discovered a winning combination: ube and hot chocolate. Their Le Petit Soufflé (Century City Mall and, soon, Mega Fashion Hall) serves a comforting cup of Ube White Hot Chocolate with a side of Ube Madeleines.
And at Scouts’ Honor (Hole in the Wall, Century City Mall) they serve Ube and White Chocolate Cookies.
Indulgence by Irene’s Ube Cheesecake
This cheesecake is a rich and delightful treat. You might also want to try the Quezo de Bola-Ube Duo or the Halo-Halo Cheesecake.
Call 0922-8303900 or 0917-6225800.
Paper Moon’s Ultimate Ube Mille Crepe
Paper Moon’s Mango Mille Crepe has always been our favorite, but its newest offering, a special first-anniversary treat, might just steal our purple-loving hearts. Its Ultimate Ube Mille Crepe is layers upon layers of crepes, homemade ube, fresh cream topped with macapuno glaze and ube chiffon crumbs.
Available at Glorietta 3, TriNoma, SM Megamall Mega A, SM Aura, ATC Corporate Center, Uptown Mall BGC, SM Fairview and SM Mall of Asia.
Starbucks Purple Yam Cheesecake
Inquirer Lifestyle’s Irene Perez says, “The Starbucks Purple Yam Cheesecake is a light and silky ube cheesecake with creamy macapuno and red mung bean that gives the indulgent dessert a chewy bite. Initially a promotional item, this purple sweet will be back at Starbucks in September.”
Anghelica’s Desserts Ube-Leche Flan Cake
Featured in Vangie Baga-Reyes’ Inquirer Lifestyle “Best Desserts 2” book, Anghelica’s Desserts’ Ube-Leche Flan Cake continues to be a favorite. And why shouldn’t it be? This special treat brings together two classic Pinoy sweets in each heavenly slice.
13 Ubay by Cuistot’s Ube Piaya à la Mode
Chef Zaza Sarmiento uses her mother’s ube halaya recipe and wraps this delicious ube filling with homemade piaya crust before topping it with tres leches ice cream at her restaurant, 13 Ubay, which also serves an ube halaya cheesecake with a polvoron crust.
Order at 13 Ubay by Cuistot, 13 Ubay St., Banawe, Quezon City. Call 0926-8858046 or 5796484.
The Kitchen’s Best Home Patisserie’s Purple Yam Cake
Chef Roselyn Tiangco’s Purple Yam Cake isn’t just any ube cake; it’s ube sans rival cake. This crunchy layered ube halaya and meringue treat is so good it became part of Vangie Baga-Reyes’ first Inquirer Lifestyle “Best Desserts” book. And yes, we still find it irresistible.
Call 7299947, 4784870 and 0917-8966248
Diamond Hotel’s Ube Ensaymada
Inquirer Lifestyle’s Cathy Cañares Yamsuan says, “Diamond Hotel’s ube ensaymada has butter frosting sprinkled with grated cheese and ube bits at the bottom, so that every bite is wow!” TVJ