Tatang’s Halo-Halo

We spotted Tatang’s Halo-Halo in the Abreeza Mall in Davao City. Initially, we thought they were a nation-wide chain given the branding. Also, they call themselves “Tatang’s Original Pampanga Halo Halo.” Pampanga is often referred to as the culinary capital of the Philippines, but there is an interesting twist. At Tatang’s, the entire menu is Halal and there are dishes such as Biryani on offer. There are items such as Sinigang Kambing, a goat soup and Pancit Luglug served without pork. After some research, this combination made a lot of sense. According to a Mindanao Times article, Tatang’s is owned by a Muslim and Capampangan Balik-Islam couple.
As for the namesake dessert, they offer several varieties. One version has durian thanks to the abundance of the fruit in Davao. Another is the Duterte halo halo, named after the former mayor of Davao City and current President of the Philippines. What differentiates his namesake halo halo from the others? It is a spicy version, perhaps an ode to his fiery personality. Although the aroma from the biryani was tempting, we were strictly in a dessert mood.

As for us, we chose the Special halo halo, which came with a long list of goodies.  One intriguing difference was the use of carabao (water buffalo) milk poured into the finely shaved ice. Also, they used pastillas, a carabao milk-based sweet as opposed to leche flan. These two ingredients alone gave it a unique flavor. Buried at the bottom of the cup was a mix of jackfruit, sliced bananas, sweet corn, red beans, macapuno and ube halaya spread. Finally, a scoop of ube ice cream topped with crunchy corn flakes rested atop. It was one of the best halo halo we have ever tasted. Absent were the jellies and syrups that adorn many halo halo. However,  they weren’t needed in this unique and delicious version.

Shortly after we ordered the halo halo, we noticed two appealing hot beverages. One was Tsokolate, the intensely dark native chocolate that is dissolved from round tablets. The other, Kapeng Barako, is a coffee native to the Philippines, in particular from the regions of Batangas and Cavite. Unfortunately, native coffee is not easily found in the Philippines, so we were  excited to find this on the menu. After several sips, we noticed that there was some sediment at the bottom, reminiscent of Greek and Turkish coffee. As for the flavor, it was pleasantly bitter and strong, a welcome respite after the sweet halo halo.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stop at Tatang’s and would certainly return. One thing to note is that this location doesn’t have a kitchen, so the savory items are limited. Their other larger location offers more in this regard and would be the ideal choice to explore more dishes.
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