UPDATE: Ombu Kusina has heard you loud and clear! These limited-edition, deliciously refreshing Halo-halo flavors are now available until the end of July!
Summer in the Philippines can only be described as hot, extremely hot, or hot and humid. It’s usually a toss-off between the three. So what can we do to keep cool?
The answer: gorge on refreshing, icy desserts! And you know what I’m thinking of? Halo-halo!
Halo-halo is a classic Filipino dessert. Koreans may have their bing-su, while the Japanese have the kakigori, but nothing compares to our local version. This shaved ice treat comes with tons of toppings– ube halaya, nata de coco, macapuno, strips of jelly, langka, leche flan, and more! Some even serve it with beans, though I personally think that they can do away with that stuff. Each restaurant serves their own version, but it doesn’t stray too far from the classic.
But Ombu Kusina? They do it differently.
Situated just within Sequoia Hotel, Ombu Kusina is known for their modern Filipino dishes, which include a touch of international influence. Their dishes are whimsical– visually pleasing, and very Instagrammable.
With the creative direction of Ombu Kusina’s very own Chef Mark Griffin Oraiz, you can now enjoy as taste of their newest menu! From delightful new halo-halo flavors to comfort food favorites made even better with that Filipino twist, there’s always something for everyone.
And so I, decked out in full-on Hawaiian print to match the summer theme, went to check out their delightful offerings for myself:
Limited Edition Halo-Halo Flavors
Ombu Kusina’s halo-halo has a smoother mouthfeel, just like fine snow. They even use flavored ice– sweet and creamy stuff– that doesn’t get watered down when it melts. That way, you don’t need to chomp on rough bites of ice when you enjoy the intense flavors that their halo-halo has to offer. Quintessential toppings in this treat include banana, jelly, corn and a little something special, depending on the flavor you choose.
Tres Leches (PHP160)
Not willing to go for wild flavors just yet? This one hits close to home. Tres Leches is a creamy and oh-so-milky halo-halo flavor, reminiscent of my favorite childhood treat: pastillas. A familiar element includes a cube of caramel leche flan that goes on top of this icy dessert, which I always look forward to. If you want subtle flavors with a delicate sweetness, this one’s for you.
Milk Tea (PHP160)
Riding the waves of the milk tea trend, Ombu Kusina whipped up their own version: Milk Tea halo-halo! Made with Earl Gray tea as the base to give it floral notes, this dessert even comes with chewy bites of pearls. It reminds me of drinking a milk tea smoothie. But what I love about this is that it can keep cool longer than most milk tea drinks. This one’s quirky and creative, perfect for those who want something unique.
The Philippines is known for their deliciously sweet mangoes, so it only makes sense to create a dessert featuring this fruit as the star. Ombu Kusina’s Mango halo-halo showcases mango in all its glory– from the thick icy pureed mango with a touch of creaminess to it, to the chunks of mango on the bottom, along with the other toppings. It’s refreshing and fruity, just like something you’d have in a beach.
Exclusive Summer Menu
Ombu Kusina’s summer dishes showcase Filipino fusion dishes that borrow culinary techniques and ideas from both the East and West. Each dish is designed to be homey and hearty, yet at the same time innovative and flavorful. It’s perfect for a light snack, a prelude to any meal, or something you can enjoy with family and friends.
Arroz Caldo (PHP130)
Chef Griffin’s take on the well-loved Filipino dish. Features a thick rice porridge infused with intense chicken flavors, topped with crisp alfalfa sprouts, red pepper strips, crispy wonton pieces, and a Japanese-style ramen egg that is marinaded in soy sauce. Bonus: the consistency of the yolk is a cross between gooey and firm. Perfect!
Three-cheese Pizza (PHP420)
A thin-crust pizza featuring the country’s well-loved cheeses– Kesong Puti and Queso de Bola– along with mozzarella, the lifeblood of every pizza. It had the perfect cheese-to-dough ratio, and a delightful crunch from the thin crust. This, combined with the rich and salty flavors that the cheeses bring to the table, make this a must-have in every meal.
Tinapa Croquette (PHP240)
A deep-fried potato ball filled with shreds of smoky tinapa for that bite of saltiness. It’s crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside goodness that is perfect for pescetarians or even those who love smoked fish.
Suzi Wong Sandwich (PHP270)
A heartier take on the classic Croque Monseiur, this sandwich features thin slices of ham, tangy pickles and tons of cheesy goodness– all encased in crunchy bread. Think of it as a deep-fried clubhouse sandwich, but more fully-loaded and with a more complex flavor profile.
Classic Tokwa’t Baboy (PHP260)
Best enjoyed when it’s fresh off the pan. This dish looks deceptively simple, but let me tell you: it has complex flavors of salty, spicy and sour all rolled in one. The sauce is a soy sauce and spiced vinegar mix that coats each cube of deep-fried tofu in a glorious umami, made even better with bites of pork and aromatic onions.
Bonus: Brazo de Mercedes
This delicious dessert was a bonus treat from one of the owners. And let me tell you: it’s the best Brazo de Mercedes that I’ve had by far, with its buttery graham base, soft and pillowy egg white, and that creamy tres leches center. It comes to you frozen, so it may be hard to cut into at first, but a little patience goes a long way. When it melts just a bit, you get caramelly goodness that is velvety smooth on the tongue.
Overall, their summer menu has shown so much promise, and everything about this restaurant is just as wonderful– from their excellent service to the cozy ambiance, charming interior and their delicious offerings. I’ll definitely be back.
Address: Ground Floor, Sequoia Hotel, Mother Ignacia Avenue, corner Timog Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City, 1103 Metro Manila