Posted in Sweets for the Sweet, The Flavors of Asia, The Joy of Snacks

In Which a Favourite Summer Dessert Takes on a Whiter Shade of Pale…

Chowking's Milky White Halo-Halo
Chowking’s Milky White Halo-Halo

Halo-Halo is one of the most popular summer desserts in the Philippines, one that takes a cue from such preparations of ice and candied / preserved fruit common to Southeast Asia such as ais kacang (air batu campur), cendol, and the Vietnamese sam bo luong.  It is, in its most common incarnation, shaved ice mixed (hence the name halo-halo [mix it up]) with plantains, sweet potato, kaong (palm fruit), nata de coco, tapioca pearls, ube [purple sweet potato] puree, coconut shreds, red mung [adzuki] beans, colourful gelatine cubes, and chickpeas all cooked in syrup.  A drizzle of evaporated milk straight out of a freshly-punctured tin finishes it off, though you can make it fancy through the addition of ice cream, custard flan, and puffed rice.

The standard halo-halo is a delight for many, but those of us who prefer simpler concoctions tend to find it overwhelming.  The alternative for us is a simpler preparation made popular by Razon’s, a Pampanga-based restaurant chain that offers the simplest spin on a classic dessert: just shaved ice with sweetened coconut shreds, caramelised bananas, custard, and a drizzle of milk.  Very simple, subtly sweet, it’s the sort of thing that helps a body cool down in the summer heat without resorting to the standard-issue baroque confection everyone else seems to be having.

If there is no branch of Razon’s anywhere near you, the Chinese fast-food chain Chowking offers a passable alternative in the form of its Milky White Halo-Halo.  Similar to the Pampanga-born original, this is a simple combination of bananas, coconut, and custard with milk and ice and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to finish it off.  Honestly, the chain does skimp on the key ingredients, but when the temperature hits the high thirties, you have to admit it does do the job of cooling you down.


Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.

3 thoughts on “In Which a Favourite Summer Dessert Takes on a Whiter Shade of Pale…

  1. Personally, I liked Digman’s and it’s “Sandosenang Sarap”. Unfortunately. I think it thawed out.

    I enjoy your blog tremendously. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on street food and how the hell they came up with a name like Kwekwek.

    1. Hefe! Good to see you on the blog! The thing about Digman’s is that the only place you can actually get a proper Digman halo-halo these days is in Bacoor, Cavite! (

      As for the streetfood, let me grab my accomplice who insists that we separate our friendship from his music (friendship naman po ‘to; walang music involved unless e gusto n’yang s’ya ang mag-research ng barbecue in parts unknown habang naka-tour); challenge accepted!

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