A recent jaunt to Makati with my sister led to part of the afternoon being spent over at Little Tokyo where we perused the aisles over at the Yamazaki Grocery and Choto Stop (where we found such rare treats as the Hello Kitty O-sakana Furikake and bottles of ramune - that old-school Japanese soda sold in equally old-fashioned Codd-neck bottles).
As the day was a regular scorcher, we made our way out back to Sango. While the shop’s revamped menu looked really tempting (there’s a curry-beef rice burger now!), we’d just had lunch and contemplated grabbing some desserts and a couple of coolers to stave off the brutal afternoon heat.
The refillable Calpis soda grabbed my sister’s attention straight away. Up until the end of this month, diners can avail of unlimited Calpis soda refills for just P 90.00. That means you get your fill of that tangy-sweet carbonated bev to your heart’s content. My sister was certainly not complaining about it and was happy with her choice.
I, on the other hand, opted for the iced milk tea. This was something of an eye-popper as I was expecting a thinner version of classic Royal Milk Tea. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived at the table looking more like an iced version of a proper London Fog – and it tasted wonderful! Wait, scratch that: the drink I got was more like a milkshake version of a proper London Fog. Fragrant Earl Gray tea was brewed into creamy-rich whole-fat Hokkaido milk and iced up: the resulting texture was silken and rich, more like melted ice cream rather than milky tea. Taste-wise, it had a pronounced bergamot flavor and got considerably richer as I sipped down to the bottom of the glass.
My sister chose to have the strawberry cornflake shake. This dessert’s name is a misnomer because it’s actually more of a sundae than it is a shake. (Sango’s real sundaes are also misleadingly named because they’re actually soft-serve ice cream cones drizzled with fruit syrups.)
A generous amount of vanilla soft-serve ice cream is topped with crisp corn flakes and some chunky-tangy strawberry jam. Quite impressive to look at, but not really my cup of tea which happened to be…
… the Maccha Azuki Cornflake Shake. In this particular confection, green-tea soft-serve takes the place of vanilla. The corn flake topping is still there, but the whole dessert is given an even more pronounced Japanese accent with a scoop of an (sweetened azuki [red bean] paste; freshly made, I would think, as it was still warm) and two small, sweet rice balls. The topping brings to mind the traditional Japanese dessert botamochi where rice balls (o-nigiri) are filled with sweet an instead of the usual savory toppers and fillings.
It’s a striking dessert: the sensation of the still-warm an melting the ice cream underneath seems to emphasize the taste of both the sweet beans and the tea: a nutty sweetness balancing a sort of herbal earthiness and bitterness. The contrasting textures – soft rice, velvety cream, and crisp corn flakes – also lend a hand to making this dessert work.
So, if you find yourself in Makati’s Little Tokyo on a blisteringly hot day, head over to Sango – not for the burgers, of course, but for some really great refreshments.