Shaved Ice snacks are very popular these days. With the rise of K-Pop, it’s quite fashionable to eat Korean Food these days, and Bing Soo has become very popular among Filipinos, whether K-Pop fan or not. Kakigori from Japan has also become very popular of late, not as big as Bing Soo but still seeing a resurgence. But my favorite of all shaved ice desserts is still the Filipino Halo Halo.
Although Halo Halo is a derivative of Japanese Kakigori, the local ingredients used which ranged from mongo and papaya at first and evolving into more refined variants we see today are in my opinion an improvement over the relatively simple kakigori, and these improvements make Halo Halo the king of shaved ice desserts in my mind.
So what is the King of the King of Shaved Ices? That title in my opinion goes to Teresita’s Halo Halo.
People may be familiar with Razon’s Halo Halo, and with good reason; Razon’s is one of the better Halo Halos you can get today. However, the Razon family from San Fernando, Pampanga has several scions and in their third generation since Razon’s was started, one of the branches is Teresita Razon, and she is the founder of Teresita’s.
So it’s no surprise that Razon’s and Teresita’s Halo Halo share many similarities. Instead of using rich mixes of kaong, nata de coco, pinipig and all other manner of ingredients, Razon’s and Teresitas has very few ingredients. They do not even use ube, which I consider a staple in Halo Halo.
However, their choice not to include ube is not such a bad thing; they are aiming for a different taste, and focusing it such that the few ingredients they do use really complement each other and bring out the taste that they are known for. So although it looks like a much simpler Halo Halo, Razon’s and Teresita’s actually have a very refined variant into which a lot of thought was put.
Razon’s Halo Halo was the template, though. It tastes great, and tastes more like Coco Jam than anything else. Razon from what I can tell uses three ingredients: sugared saba, macapuno, and leche flan. However, the syrup or sugar with the saba tastes a lot like coco jam, and it’s probably made of some kind of coconut milk and sugar (muscovado?) mix. I never asked Razon’s and I doubt they’d give me the recipe, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s made of. As a result, Razon’s variant tastes a lot like Coco Jam.
Teresita’s is similar but instead its ingredient list was refined and improved, and in my opinion it is the superior product. Teresita’s uses only four ingredients from what I can tell: sugared saba, macapuno, langka and leche flan. However, unlike the Razon version which has a strong coco jam taste, Razon’s instead tastes a lot like yema. And it’s wonderful!
When you take a bite, you’ll notice that there’s a rich, caramely taste. That’s the leche flan. But that’s not the only thing. The custard of the flan is very rich and thick, and tastes a lot like yema. This is what gives Teresita’s its competitive advantage and its unique flavor and flair that no other halo halo has. Because it uses minimal ingredients, the focus of the taste really narrows down to the leche flan’s custard. And the effect is amazing. This is by far the best Halo Halo I have tasted that is sold commercially.
Another thing to note about Teresita’s is that their Halo Halo is noticeably drier compared to the typical Halo Halo. Most Halo Halo tend to be very wet, with a lot of crushed ice that isn’t very fine and melts quickly into water, mixing in with the milk and the other fluids of the ingredients used. Towards the end you’ll end up drinking it as it’s very liquid. Even Razon’s is like this.
Teresita’s is different. For some reason, the crushed ice ends up with a mushy consistency, so even if you melt it a lot it doesn’t get very watery. This is likely because the base ingredients at the bottom — the macapuno and the saba — are very thick and not wet like the typical kaong or nata de coco you see elsewhere. The syrupy paste they are in is an unbending mire of molasses, and this prevents the cup from getting too watery. The milk is measured out in careful proportion when poured in, meaning they have worked out the optimal amount to not get the treat too wet.
Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, the generous, very generous amount of leche flan on top is more than you usually find in a typical Halo Halo, and when you mush it in with the rest of the ingredients it sort of solidifies with the ice, giving you a very thick, mushy and relatively dry consistency.
This is quite unique among Halo Halos, and is closer to a Pat Bing Soo from Korea. I like how they came up with these proportions and it pays out dividends in the flavor and eating experience. I have to reiterate that the secret to this Halo Halo is the leche flan. Without it, the dish just wouldn’t work and it wouldn’t be as good as it is.
I have found two branches of this awesome stand here in Alabang — one in Southmall at the basement, and another at Festival Mall on the third floor. If you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly urge you to order a cup of the King of Halo Halo’s.