The Filipino word “halo” means “mix” in English, so if we’re to be literal about it, “halo-halo” means “mix-mix”. But just like the interplay of the fully separate and completely distinguishable ingredients of halo-halo, it’s hardly possible to be literal about this food. The final product — the halo-halo — is way more than the sum of all its ingredients. It’s like carbon to diamond.
Halo-halo is a mixture of various ingredients, which could be as varied as langka (jackfruit), macapuno (young coconut), minatamis na saging (sweetened banana), various beans, sago (tapioca), gulaman (gelatin), pinipig (rice crispies), jalaya or ube (purple yam), leche flan, ice cream, milk and, of course, crushed ice. It’s amazing how you could simply throw all these ingredients in a container, add milk and ice, and voila! You have a food that gives you not only energy (or diabetes, whichever comes first), but also a sure-fire way of beating the heat of Philippine summer (or any ordinary humid tropical day).
The halo-halo of Razon’s is highly recommended. Before Razon’s opened its branches in Makati City (Jupiter Street, at the end near EDSA) and Quezon City (Timog Avenue, at the end near Quezon Avenue, and another one at Banawe Street, near the Orthopoedic Hospital), we had to drive from Makati City all the way to San Fernando, Pampanga just to enjoy the renowned Razon’s halo-halo. Of course, since we’re hungry when we get there, we always order other items in the menu like dinuguan, pansit, ensaymada (left photo, below, labeled as enzaymada) and puto (right photo, below). We loved (it used to be “me”, then I converted so many souls to love Razon’s that it’s now a “we”) it so much we didn’t mind the long drive, even during the time when the NLEX was still being renovated.
I heard Razon’s has branches in the Mall of Asia, TriNoMa, Market! Market!, Robinson’s Galleria and Greenhills. I also noticed there’s a branch of Razon’s in Tagaytay City, at the Robinson’s supermarket in front of Josephine’s.
The remarkable thing about Razon’s halo-halo is this — it’s made up of just a small fraction of the ingredients listed above. Macapuno at the bottom, then minatamis na saging, then the finely-crushed ice permeated with milk, and topped with leche flan. Just a few ingredients, yet the halo-halo tastes heavenly.
Before I discovered Razon’s halo-halo years back, my favorite halo-halo was Chowking. When I was living alone in the condominium, I ordered so much of Chowking halo-halo that I could rightly claim to be a part of that fastfood company’s growth. I’d eat Chowking halo-halo in every place I’d go, even in Baguio, something that my friends find weird (Baguio is cold. Halo-halo is cold. Are you out of your mind?). I still like Chowking halo-halo, of course, but I now consider it as the No. 2 of my new No. 1 of halo-halo, Razon’s (kudos to the management of Chowking for deciding to make the crushed ice a little bit finer, but it should be made finer, something that’s pretty close to that of Razon’s). Of course, there’s a 2007 survey result which says that Chowking is the preferred brand, but what I said is the opinion of my taste buds.
You should try halo-halo. It’s distinctly Filipino just like eating balut (boiled duck’s embryo), except that unlike balut, halo-halo will no way land in Fear Factor. Ok, enough of the talk. Go. Eat. Halo-halo.