The glass of pale yellow foam arrives topped with caramelized plantain chips and crispy-fried, sugarcoated wantons. It is simple by today’s outrageous milkshake standards, but it is still one of those rare cases where I have to ask the owners of Manila Creamery (stylized "MNL Creamery") how to best enjoy it. Like every other beverage that blurs the line between drinking and eating, the technique is to go freestyle.
“You should take a sip then bite on the chips so you can really get that feeling of turon,” says Manila Creamery co-owner Paolo Reyes. With a banana leaf ribbon hugging the inside of he glass to complete the effect, each sip-and-bite is perfectly reminiscent of that crunchy banana wrap. The gelato is tinged with jackfruit because things come in special in this ice cream parlor.
The shakes are part of their expanded menu, developed especially for their first brick-and-mortar shop on the cinema floor of UP Town Center. Along with intriguing new gelato flavors like melon (an extra challenge due to the fruit's inconsistent flavor), truffle mascarpone (truffle, as in the kind you usually get with linguini), and Thai milk tea, they’re introducing gelato-based milkshakes and a stellar coffee lineup (the beans are courtesy of Yardstick).
Reyes and Jason Go’s road to becoming 25-year-old ice cream artisans is a fascinating one. Reyes had been selling cupcakes in a mall (a business he describes as a “sunset industry” at that time) when he observed a gelato-churning chain nearby. Taking it as inspiration for his next commercial pursuit, he rounded up his closest friends to get into the dessert business. Go went to Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna to formally train in the art of Italian ice cream, while Reyes stayed to attend all the expos he could. At one of them, he found someone who sponsored his own gelato crash course near Venice.
Cereal Milk with Pili Nuts. The waffle cones are made fresh in-house.
The Hazelnut Latte
The pair came back armed with Italian know-how but Asian and Pinoy sensibilities. “It’s fusion,” Reyes says of their style. “Made the Manila way” as their Serious Studios-designed wall tells us, it’s tradition on tradition—authentic techniques and local flavor—that work together to make up something entirely different. Pistachios from Sicily, matcha from Japan, other much-loved Pinoy flavors getting the best ingredients necessary—geography won't get in the way of results.
The victory in their Turon Milkshake shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who have been oriented with Manila Creamery and their breakout flavor, the mangga’t suman, which comes complete with actual bits of rice. Growing up eating things like biko, sapin-sapin, and ube gives the enterprising pair the uncanny ability to rehash all those memories albeit in a different, literally cooler iteration. Local influences and nostalgia weave their way into the menu—from the updated Roasted Cereal Milk now speckled with fresh pili nuts, the dark chocolate from Davao, the saba in the banana split, the genius addition of latik in the latte, to the predictably best-selling Matcha Taho. They even include pieces of Pocky in the last one for the sheer fun part of it.
Asian Persuasion: Black Sesame (Go tells us they've updated their dark chocolate) and Thai Milk Tea
Ube Salted Egg
The best-selling Mangga't Suman
In the one year since they’ve been in business, Manila Creamery has been a staple in bazaars, supplied for major events, partnered with huge brands, and now, despite months of delay, opened their own store. Looks like their initial dreams came true—and more, but now it’s time to think even bigger.
Manila Creamery is at the 3/F Cinema Level, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.