Summer season may have reached its midway point but it’s not too late to talk about food perfect for this hot season. And what better way to cool down that hot summer afternoon than with a refreshing halo-halo in hand. While halo-halo is almost synonymous with summer here in the Philippines, one can enjoy our humble national dessert anytime since it’s almost always hot or sunny here, especially in Davao.
To fulfill our quest to find the best halo-halo here in Davao, we’ve pitted two establishments that we think serve the best interpretation of the popular dessert in the city: Bistro Rosario and Aling Foping’s. And to keep our objectivity in tact, we decided to taste the 2 halo-halo desserts on the same day. Sounds good, right?
Bistro Rosario: Classic with a twist
Our first halo-halo tasting is from Bistro Rosario located at F. Torres St. While Bistro Rosario is more popular for its cakes, pastries and restaurant, their halo-halo should also be given due credit as well. We’ve tasted their halo-halo before so coming back for an encore serving is a testament to how impressed we were during our first visit.
Their interpretation of the halo-halo is very basic, almost textbook in fact. Classic ingredients of ube, macapuno, pinipig, white beans, monggo, jackfruit, banana, gulaman and kaong were present. However, the twist was that they added some kind of orange-colored beans that blended with the dessert quite nicely. The ice was shaved finely and the milk was just enough to make the dessert creamy and sweet at the same time. Their serving was also quite hefty just because of the number of ingredients present. The barquillos on top also added a nice touch to the presentation. If you’re not a big fan of radical interpretations or big changes on your food, then the classic halo-halo from Bistro Rosario is just the right dessert for you.
Unfortunately, their version of the halo-halo has some shortcomings. While all the classic ingredients were present, we felt that the star ingredients namely macapuno, banana and ube (especially) were not that very prominent. In short, we felt that their halo-halo could be better with heftier servings of the main ingredients. Another nuisance is the lack of option in the menu to have a halo-halo with both the ube ice cream and leche flan. It’s either you get the one with ice cream or the one with leche flan. That was the biggest disappointment for me as I felt that you couldn’t have a complete halo-halo experience if you’re missing either the ube ice cream or the leche flan. We chose the one with ice cream, by the way.
Having said that, i still think Bistro Rosario’s version of the halo-halo is still worth a try (and a retry). You can’t go wrong with the classics, as they say. And if you’re not too keen about having both ice cream and leche flan, you’re good to go with Bistro. Halo-halo with ice cream is at Php120.00.
Aling Foping’s: Create, Customize, Indulge
Another popular, if not the most popular, halo-halo stall here in Davao is Aling Foping’s. Located at the Matina Town Square, this humble stall is flocked by locals and tourists alike just to have a taste of their ever-famous halo-halo. And with good reason, as their biggest selling point of the dessert is giving the customers the choice to pick their own ingredients. Sweet!
For only Php105.00, you’ll get your special halo-halo with ice cream and you get to pick 6 toppings from the list of ingredients to complete your custom-made dessert. If you’re still not satisfied with the 6, you can have add-ons for a minimal fee. Now that’s customization at its best. Below is the list of toppings you can choose from:
In order to make our halo-halo almost identical to that of Bistro Rosario’s, we decided to pick similar ingredients. However, we just couldn’t resist leaving the leche flan out since we were bummed about that issue earlier. While choosing only 6 ingredients may leave you wanting for more, I thought this was just the right amount of ingredients for a halo-halo, just to avoid too many things going around inside the dessert. Another advantage of this is that the 6 ingredients come in generous servings which means you can really taste them while munching on.
One downside I can think of Aling Foping’s halo-halo is actually also their biggest upside: customization. Because sometimes, having the power to choose what we want can bite us back in the ass (see: election). If, for example, you’re too gaga on macapuno or beans or ube, you’d tend to double that ingredient, right? Well, that’s the problem because by doing so, you’re preventing yourself from experiencing the authentic halo-halo experience which is to mix and match many ingredients at once and not to concentrate on your favorite ingredients. But, if you have ample restraint, you’ll enjoy Aling Foping’s halo-halo very much. And that’s a guaran-damn-tee.
After tasting the two versions of the halo-halo, it boiled down to two main points. Does the classic interpretation of Bistro Rosario stand the test of time or did Aling Foping’s edgier, “custom-made” gimmick won our taste buds’ vote? While both were very delicious and refreshing, I can say that Aling Foping’s halo-halo is the best one here in Davao City.
At this time and age, people get easily bored and attention spans seem to dwindle minute by minute. By making the customers choose their own ingredients, Aling Foping’s paved a whole new level on how to enjoy the humble dessert. You can choose to have a different halo-halo experience anytime you want. Why? Because you can.