There have been hushed talks of this foolish upstart restaurant that dared to serve as its centerpiece ice cream bars that cost 100 bucks each, which would only run for 1 year, and for you to sit down you would have to have at least 3 of you sitting down to order a plate of ice cream at 300 bucks or more per head.

Does that sound crazy to you? It does to me. Yet against all rationality and reason, this place, Magnum Cafe at SM Aura, actually did so well and is in such high demand that you have to wait 30 minutes just to get in, and that’s just for the privilege of paying 100 bucks to wrack your brain trying to figure out what the best way to eat your super expensive ice cream bar is.  Let’s not talk about the requirement to actually get to sit down in the restaurant — which will cost you and a couple of friends upwards of 800 pesos easily.

And just to rib you even further, the cafe is doing so well, it decided to go past its self-imposed 1-year only rule and is now happily trodding along for a year and a half, happily taking your blue peso notes.  Shut up and take my money!

It’s ridiculous what people will waste their money on these days, a standard magnum that I buy at a 7-Eleven for 60 bucks is already a bad deal for me, though I admit I get one from time to time for the awesome hard chocolate shell that is just soooo delicious. The actual ice cream inside is passable but it’s no Ben and Jerry’s or Baskin Robbins.  Still, chocolate lover that I am, it’s a treat I get every now and then.

Now, enter the Magnum Cafe. Upon entry, you will be greeted by the bar where you can create your custom-made magnum opus. Err, I mean Magnum bar dressed with all variety of sweets.

For 100 bucks, you get to grab your choice of plain, undecorated magnum on a stick and dress it and dip it in any way you choose from the wide array of treats along the bar. Choose from sprinkles, fruits, candy, syrups, hardening dips, if you have a sweet tooth for it, it’s probably here somewhere.

I didn’t care for that though. I wanted to sit down and try out the plate artisan dishes instead. I headed straight passed the bar — didn’t even bother taking a picture — and was greeted by a huge floating magnum bar!

The Giant Floating Magnum Bar
Well, it’s not exactly floating, it’s actually a bunch of Magnum wood sticks pasted to the wall and molded to look like a giant Magnum bar. Well, it made me hungry when I saw it at least!

Well it wasn’t actually my dream come true, more of a large sculpture made of Magnum sticks that someone with too much free time stuck to the wall with a glue gun. Very nice effect though, and I appreciate the near joygasm he almost gave me.

I noticed that the crew and the look of the place looked a lot like Yabu, my favorite katsu restaurant. The uniforms in particular reminded me of the styling of Yabu. But I digress. Let’s get down to the artisan creations.

In order to actually sit down and not just be shown the door once you dress up your Magnum bar, you and at least 2 other people must sit down and order something from the “special menu.”

Now this menu is special indeed, for the cheapest thing on it is 280 bucks, and the most expensive goes up to 550. The pictures though made me want to just order everything on the menu!  There was a Triple Belgian Chocolate Cookie Skillet, my old standby favorite Death by Chocolate, some other stuff and a massively tempting Chocolate Fondue Set for 550.

I was seriously going to order the Fondue set, but out of the corner of my eye I spied the said Fondue set at a nearby table and I saw how small the fondue dips and trays with all the goodies were. I realized that, while I regularly spend almost 300 bucks on a large cup of Pink Berry, this 550 set was just not worth it with that tiny size.

So, I passed on it and tried out this exotic entree:

The Green Tea Macha Lava Cake
The Green Tea Macha Lava Cake

Yes, it’s a lava cake with super heated… green tea inside!! I love green tea! I love lava cakes! And it comes with yummy custard, some strawberries and nuts, and a bowl of toasted sesame that you can grind in the exact same way you would at Yabu.

(And that pen on top is my newly-acquired TWSBI Diamond Mini, just got it from Scribe when I passed by haha!)

Grinding the sesame was great fun, and it gave off that sumptuous aroma of freshly roasted black sesame, heavenly and I wasted no time tossing it into the custard dip and grabbing a slice of the cake (almost stuffing the entire thing in my mouth!) and a bite of Magnum.

And I imagined the sumptuous, sweet goodness filling my mouth!!!! And chocked on a mouthful of sand. WTF?!   Did I not just eat a slice of tempestuous chocolate lava cake with green tea macha inside?  Well I did, but apparently the chef didn’t get the memo to make it taste good and decided to simulate the taste of raw cardboard dipped in wet sand!!!

Oh my GOD. How could you possibly mess up such a divine-sounding dish?  It was terrible. The custard was suitably not-creamy and did not have a rich, milky taste, the perfect complement for a side of cardboard.  The strawberries were out of season and were not sweet, but strangely were not sour either, in fact they didn’t taste like much. What the heck? In desperation, I licked the green tea syrup on the plate. It tasted like I thought it would. Which, at least, was good.

But herein was the problem:  the chefs did not really consider how the different ingredients of this dish would mesh together, and yes, they don’t. The macha powder has that yummy taste when you mix it in ice cream, but somehow it was horrible against the not-so-sweet chocolate cake, which was not very tasty or chocolatey itself. The custard was too weak-bodied and did not have any creaminess or sumptuousness to it.  I had just had a helping of Ramune Kakigori at Little Tokyo prior to this and I was impressed by the taste of the condensed milk they used to thicken the ice.  This custard was an insult to that, I mistook it for some flour mixed in water instead of a dairy product. Unreal.

Only the actual ice cream magnum was any good, but it was just a plain Jane vanilla variety with chocolate coating — I could get a more flavorful variant for 50 bucks from the local supermarket, and not this 280 peso monstrosity.

Close up of the macha cake. Do not try this. For the love of God.
Close up of the macha cake. Do not try this. For the love of God.

Words could not express my disappointment. But I suppose maybe I just got a bad dish?  My friend on the other hand tried the super yummy-looking Triple Belgian Chocolate cookie skillet. It’s basically two sticks of magnum with a huge cookie baked with three different chocolates (dark, milk and white) and it cost 350 pesos and took 15 minutes to prepare as the cookie needed to be freshly whisked off the skillet.


It sounds good in theory, right?  Well in practice… it was okay. But it wasn’t ZOMG YUMMY I CAN DIE NOW good. It was just, okay. There’s a fatal flaw to this dish as well. The cookie on the other hand was pretty sweet, compared to the macha cake which was totally not sweet. It’s basically a sugar cookie with three types of chocolate nuggets mixed in, but not a thin sugar cookie it has some egg, flour and baking powder in it so it has some body and texture. This helped keep the cookie from being too sweet, however the chocolate used in it was luscious and very good. Too good, perhaps, in that eating the white chocolate part in particular overloads you with sweetness, and then when you bite into your magnum bar….. it tastes like nothing.

I am reminded of an episode in Cooking Master Boy when Mao was fighting the Dark Brotherhood chef, a woman whose name I forget. The theme was crabs, and Mao created the most ridiculously awesome crab dish you could ever think of.  The evil lady on the other hand just made a simple crab soup dish, but insisted that the judges taste her dish first. Well, her dish was concentrated crab soup, which had so much crab flavor packed in (and nothing else) that it numbed your tongue to crab taste. There was nothing else to the dish so it was a boring dish and the judges hated it. But when they ate Mao’s super awesome crab dish, it tasted like crap because they had already had their tongues killed by the concentrated crab soup. So the judges threw a hissy fit and flunked Mao on the spot.

Well, that’s sort of what happened here. The cookie is too sweet.  On its own I might have enjoyed it, though to be honest it wasn’t my favorite cookie. I’ve had much better from Mrs. Fields, and actually I’ve baked better myself, but that’s beside the point. The point is, this is a Magnum Cafe so the core ingredient to any dish should be the Magnum Ice Cream bar. Well, the cookie did not go with the Magnum bar at all, because it basically killed the taste of the Magnum Bar.

I’m shocked and appalled. This was a incredibly-hyped dessert restaurant that should have catered to my every whim. It’s freakin’ Magnum! How can it not be good?! Sadly, it wasn’t. I hate to say it, but the chefs beside the recipes and artisan creations here have no understanding of how to utilize the different ingredients and parts of their dishes to bring out their flavors.  They only haphazardly threw together nice sweets without really making sure to balance their flavors with each other. They especially failed to bring out the best flavor of the Magnum Bar.

To add insult to injury, they served the ice cream bars right on top of the cookie. Let me remind you of the life story of this cookie. Oh yeah! Didn’t it just spend the last 15 minutes of its life in an oven, getting baked to a piping hot temp? Guess what happens when you plop an ice cream bar on it? Yes, that’s right. It melts on contact and seeps into the cookie almost instantly. Making the actual bar soggy and liquefied to eat and not a hard, lush bite like any well-behaved ice cream bar would.

Seriously. What a huge disappointment. I’ve never been so disappointed eating a high-class dessert in my life. This was one big epic fail and I will never return to this atrocious cafe. 

Think I’m talking my mouth off? Think I have no business crapping on professional chefs who studied ten years of cooking to create these dishes? Well… you’re right. I have no qualifications other than my picky tongue. So tell me about it in the comments.

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Posted by Erwin Anciano

Erwin has been eating food for the past 30 or so years. Yes, he actually thinks that makes him an expert on all things food-related.