Ice dessert review

Halo-halo: This Filipino treat, dubbed as Halo-halo, is a custom-ordered item with shaved ice, purple yam ice cream and evaporated milk. Customers can add various toppings such as sweet beans, coconut, sago, gulaman, tubers, fruits, custard and a choice of jellies.  Though this mass of different ingredients might seem like a strange combination, Halo-halo is a surprisingly light dessert.  To check out what the excitement was about, I went to Jollibee’s in Chino Spectrum.

Even though the fast food interior put me off, the Halo-halo I ordered for $5.40 was actually quite good. Its signature purple ice cream had an especially unique flavor, which pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t really know what to expect after seeing its vibrant purple color, but upon tasting it, the subtle yam flavor was very satisfying and had an authentic taste similar to the real vegetable.

In spite of my initial doubts, the combination of beans, condensed milk and jellies tasted great together and was not overwhelmingly sweet.  However, the shaved ice did not do the flavors justice since it wasn’t shaved finely enough and was far too crunchy for my taste.  It also turned watery too quickly and should be eaten with haste.

If I were to ever come this way again, I would much rather visit the Frostbites next door instead.

Sorbet Cream: Sorbet Cream, a dessert that consists of a vanilla or chocolate frozen custard base topped with Italian shaved ice, is a trending dessert this year.  The ice comes in a variety of unique flavors like passion fruit, mango, taro, coconut and peanut butter as well as the many other more common fruit flavors.  The Frostbite in Chino Spectrum allows you to sample a large number of these different combinations before ordering, and offers as many as four flavors in one serving.  I chose taro and coconut, one of the most popular and recommended combinations, while my friend went for strawberry lemon, lemon and green apple.  The taro ice really stood out to me since it possessed a nice, strong taro flavor, but paired with the frozen custard, the sweetness was a bit overwhelming.  The fruity combination, on the other hand, was a good pick since the tartness of the shaved ice countered the sweetness of the custard.

The ice was shaved finely enough to satisfy me, and the flavors blended together well.  But my favorite aspect was the thick, creamy ice cream. Just for the frozen custard, I would definitely go back for more.  However, the large cup I ordered cost $5.40 and was only a bit bigger than the medium.  It would be far better to simply get a normal or a small.

Sulbing Shaved Ice: Shaved ice covered with fresh fruit and exotic toppings such as red bean, mochi, dried dates and sesame have also made a comeback as the weather heats up.  Some of the more popular Korean shaved ice flavors include injeolmi, sesame, strawberry, mango and green tea. The sweetness can be adjusted with the cup of condensed milk the chain offers, and most of the shaved ice choices are surprisingly light.  

The first thing I noticed about this treat was how aesthetically pleasing it was with bright colors and fresh fruit.  My friends and I decided to order a strawberry shaved ice and a green tea shaved ice at Sul and Beans in Diamond Plaza, Rowland Heights. The quality of the ice was the first thing I noticed, as it was incredibly fine and had a soft texture, melting on my tongue once I took a bite.  The strawberries tasted especially fresh, though I liked the four chunks of mochi arranged on top of the ice best.

The green tea ice also had red beans and mochi, but possessed an additional layer of almonds and dried dates on top.  The ice itself wasn’t green tea flavored because it came with a coating of green tea powder, giving the dessert an especially intense tea flavor.  I ended up pouring some condensed milk to sweeten it, and the resulting taste was even more delicious than before.  The red beans also give the shaved ice substance by providing a chewy texture.  

Although I enjoyed Sul and Bean’s shaved ice the most out of the desserts I had, the price was definitely a bit too extravagant for me.  The total was a bit over $20, so I would probably only go back once in a while for special occasions.

Popbar: Instead of eating gelato out of a cup, why not eat it on a stick, popsicle-style?  Popbar, in Rowland Heights, offers an alternative to the typical popsicle with a much creamier texture and taste. Customers choose a gelato flavor, which can be dipped into a large variety of fondues such as chocolate, white chocolate and mint, among several others. Toppings like nuts and coconut shavings can be added as well.

My first impression upon stepping into the store was the large variety of fondues they offered, up to six different kinds.  I decided to try a total of three combinations: a vanilla bar half-dipped in dark chocolate, covered in hazelnuts and drizzled with mint chocolate; a pistachio bar half-dipped in milk chocolate, covered in almonds and drizzled with white chocolate; and a yogurt mango bar half-dipped in white chocolate covered in pistachios and coconut shavings. The price varied from $2 to $5 since it is based on how many toppings you select.

From my first bite, I wasn’t too impressed with the vanilla bar.  It was tasty, but it tasted like your typical vanilla and fudge ice cream that you can buy at any supermarket.  

The pistachio bar only had a vague pistachio flavor as well, as the toppings vastly overpowered the nutty taste. Though I normally prefer a stronger pistachio flavor, the almonds and white chocolate did help by adding to the flavor.  The mango yogurt bar, on the other hand, was quite interesting.  The sweet white chocolate really complimented the tanginess of the ice cream, and the pistachio and coconut toppings gave it a nice crunchy texture in contrast to the smooth mango yogurt ice cream.  

Though my expectations for popbar were a bit too high, I have to admit that the quality of the ice cream is exceptional.  The gelato was cold enough to stay on the stick and freeze the chocolate when dipped in fondue, yet it wasn’t so cold that it hurt your teeth when biting into it. How good the bars taste really depends on what sort of combination you decide on.