Different people have varying opinions and interpretations of what makes the perfect halo-halo. Some like it with lots of beans, others prefer to forego the saba, and a despicable few actually enjoy their halo-halo without leche flan (gasp!). But one thing's for sure: it's hard to mess it up.
“The great thing with halo-halo is that it literally should be a 'halo-halo', a mishmash of sweetened ingredients (preferably with good quality ingredients) that you love to eat all in one giant bowl/tall glass,” says Roselle Miranda, food editor of Good Housekeeping. “The only way one would and could mess up a halo-halo is for the establishment to use inferior ingredients, like leche flan that’s not made with only egg yolks or ube halaya where you can’t taste the ube.”
If you're craving for the stuff (and we bet you'll be after finishing this article), here's some of the best places where you can get your frozen fix in Manila:
1) Cafe Via Mare's Halo-Halo Special
This summer, we highly recommend trading your usual bibingka order at Via Mare for something more befitting of the season: a tall, frosty glass of their Halo-Halo Special. It'll definitely keep you happy while waiting for your girlfriend or mom to finish being titas.
2) Razon's Halo-Halo
A “best halo-halo” list just wouldn't be complete without mentioning Razon's. Their ingredient list—saba, macapuno, leche flan, and milk—is sparse compared to their counterparts, but this Kapampangan mainstay always delivers. “ Razon’s is delicious for the simplicity of ingredients that make up their version,” says Roselle.
3) Kabigting's Halo-Halo
Another strong contender for the “minimalist halo-halo” crown is Kabigting's, which counts beans, corn, pastillas, and milk as its only ingredients. The best part is their ice, which is almost bingsu-level fine. Whether you're on Team Razon's or Team Kabigting's, one thing's for sure: Kapampangans definitely have mad halo-halo making skills.
4) The Peninsula Manila's Halo-Halo Harana
The halo-halo served at the Manila Pen Lobby isn't cheap: at P690, it's around ten times more than what we'd usually be willing to shell out for this dessert. But once it's in front of you, you'll see why it warrants the insane price tag: it comes in a ridiculously huge glass, is brimming with toppings, and it has the largest slab of leche flan. Split it with your girl to earn extra pogi points!
5) Nathaniel's Bakeshop Halo-Halo Special
Lots of people go to Nathaniel's for their buko pandan and baked goods, but their halo-halo is also a winner. A tall glass filled with beans, gelatin, kaong, cornflakes, and all the works, topped with a mound of milky crushed ice, it's the picture-perfect halo-halo that'll remind you of your childhood.
6) Chowking's Halo-Halo
Chowking might be known for their Chinese fare, but it's pretty amazing how they've cornered the market when it comes to halo-halo, a decidedly non-Chinese dessert. “It's perfect for instant gratification since it delivers,” says Roselle.
7) Milky Way Cafe's Halo-Halo
Milky Way has been in business since the '60s, so you can count on them to really know what they're doing. Their milk-to-ice ratio is almost perfect, their sweetened beans chewy, their saba never a sad, soggy mush.
8) Aristocrat's Halo-Halo Special
Aristocrat has always been a go-to for great Filipino food—they've been churning out culinary delights for more than 80 years—and their halo-halo is no exception. They're generous with their ingredients, from the langka to the ube ice cream to the milk, so you'll never feel shortchanged. And since their original Malate address is open 24 hours, you can scratch off that halo-halo craving any time of the day.