Ah, the halo-halo. This quintessential Pinoy cooler is literally a hodge podge of locally-available ingredients. Just like the ubiquitous adobo, it varies from province to province with iterations that change partly due to what’s available, partly to what tickle the taste buds of the locals.
On a particularly hot afternoon, Thunderbird Resorts, our gracious host in La Union, deemed it worthy to cool us down at the much-written-about Halo Halo de Iloko. The rains fell by the time we traveled from Luna to San Fernando proper but that didn’t dissuade us from having that special halo halo.
Lagal[og] says: It took awhile before the halo halo was prepared so we got ourselves something to nibble on. The prawn crackers that came first were as enticing as they were colorful, though pretty standard in taste. But one dip into the vinegar sauce was all it took to know this was special. We queried the staff about the ‘secret’ additive but they were mum about it (as the owner is equally secretive about the halo halo mix). I suspect it is rice wine (common in the Ilocos region) that gives the sauce that kick.
Ironwulf says: Okoy, a popular Filipino Snack that is usually made up of shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu and flour was served to stave off our hunger while we wait for the halo-halo. But Halo Halo de Iloko’s okay was different. It was a lot tastier and more pastry-like in consistency. It’s also a lot more flavorful with the added malunggay and carrot with variants laced with langgonisa bits or tuna strips. I definitely enjoyed the langgonisa variant. Dipping into their special vinegar really heightens the taste even more.
Lagal[og] says: The Halo Halo came just in time to give us not so much as relief from the afternoon heat which has considerably scaled down with the rain as much as relief from the ‘spiked’ vinegar sauce of the fish crackers and okoy.
It was, as halo halo fare goes, pretty much loaded – ube ice cream on top of not-so-fine yet not-really-that-coarse shaved ice, mung beans and an assortment of pretty much halo-halo staple ingredients at the bottom.
I think what spelled the difference was the smoky flavor and extra crunch lent by the roasted pinipig (toasted rice crispies). At times, it’s the use of a single ingredient that gives a recipe a delightful difference, e.g. the generous use of sweetened coconut that made Razon’s halo halo a distinct, Zen-like experience.
Ironwulf says: The roasted crispy flavor and rich ingredients spelled the difference for this halo-halo. The shaved ice isn’t as fine grated as Razon’s but the serving size and finely picked, locally-sourced ingredients did make a difference.
Halo Halo de Iloko
P. Burgos cor. Zandueta Sts.
San Fernando City, La Union