10 Manila restos and cafes with seriously divine desserts: Ice cream, macarons, bingsu, cakes, shakes, and souffles

Photo: Bizu Patisserie & Bistro’s Facebook account.

A lot of desserts are often made to look cute and froofy nowadays, and even if they are — we Manileños do not mess around when it comes to getting a proper serving of sweets. You could say it’s in our blood.

Dessert trends may descend upon our city and spread like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean they’re always as good on the tastebuds as they are on the ‘gram. So, we’ve compiled this list to help our readers find some of the best places in the metro to get a dessert whose deliciousness can be vouched for. They can be found everywhere from good ol’ restaurants to cafes that locals frequent and critics love.

Here we go…

Afters Espresso & Desserts

Photo: afters Espresso & Desserts.
Photo: Afters Espresso & Desserts/FB

Located on Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City, Afters was founded by businessman Vincent Fideles, who studied to become a gelato artisan and barista. This acquired knowledge helped him participate in various food bazaars and night markets around the country, and after getting his feet wet in the industry, he opened Afters, which now offers desserts within its brick-and-mortar store, and online.

A regular gelato sells for PHP365 (US$6.81) a pint; this includes flavors such as Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and Stratacciella. Premium flavors such as Strawberry Cheesecake, Gianduja, and Pistachio are worth PHP430 (US$8.03).

Other than their ice cream tubs, you can also indulge in their signature desserts. There’s Afters Signature Affogato (PHP165 or US$3.08) wherein a scoop of gelato is topped with a shot of espresso and the uncomplicated but fantastic Milk and chewy Cookies (PHP170 or US$3.17).

Other options include their Deconstructed Apple Crumble (PHP195 or US$3.64), where apples sauteed in cinnamon sauce are used as toppings to gelato and cookie crumble; and the Molten Lava Cake, priced at PHP250 (US$4.66).

Afters also offers a wide selection of coffees that will please any caffeine aficionado. They also serve pasta dishes and sandwiches, in case you need something on the salty-savory side, too.

Bizu Patisserie & Bistro

Photo: Bizu Patisserie & Bistro's Facebook account.
Photo: Bizu Patisserie & Bistro/FB

Bizu has long been a favorite of cake fans. What started out as a kiosk in Makati’s Glorietta 4 mall in 2011 now has multiple cafe outlets all over the metro including one in Greenbelt 2 in Makati, Alabang Town Center, and Greenhills Shopping Center.

Check out their velvety cakes such as the Fresh Strawberry Chiboust (PHP2,455 for grande/US$45.84), a classic French-style cheesecake topped with strawberries; the sugarless Naomi (PHP995 for midi/US$18.58), where sugarless milk is combined with dark chocolate mousse that’s spread between layers of cake then sprayed with cocoa liqueur; and the Amour (PHP325 for personal/US$6.06), orange chocolate mousse combined with creme brulee and brownies.

Aside from their cakes, ice cream-based desserts are also available, such as the Banana Split (PHP275/US$5.13), which is composed of banana, various ice cream flavors, whipped cream, and cherries; the Vanilla Balsamico (PHP125/US$2.33), which is composed of warm rum cake, vanilla ice cream, pistachios, and balsamic cream; and the Chocolate a la Mode (PHP125/US$2.33), a combo of warm chocolate brownie, chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate sauce.

Their macarons also have a loyal following — they come in a variety of flavors, from Blueberry to (gasp) Salted Duck Egg. You can buy them per piece for PHP75 (US$1.40) or in boxes of eight (PHP5,955/US$111.35), 14 (PHP1,045/US$19.54) or 28 (PHP2,095/US$39.17).

Carousel Creamery

Photo: Carousel Creamery's Facebook account.
Photo: Carousel Creamery/FB

This Greenhills ice cream shop offers as many as 101 flavors. Yes — 101.

However, not all of them are available every month (they’re rotated regularly, hence the name Carousel). What they do have on offer at any time often dabbles in the wild — think Bacon and Cheese, Beer and Chicharon (fried pork rinds), the Starbucks-inspired Pumpkin Spice, and Puto (steamed rice cake) and Cheese.

Each is priced based on how many scoops a customer orders. A single scoop is PHP95 (US$1.77), two scoops are PHP160 (US$2.98), and three scoops are PHP225 (US$4.20).

And — the shop says that the milk used in creating their products come from grass-fed cows which were raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Nice! We’re also digging their interiors, which are inspired by old-school ice cream parlors.

Owned by Lincoln Cheong, Carousel Creamery also offers other desserts like the Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich, where a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream is placed between two brownies and is topped with warm homemade caramel sauce; the Caffeine Buzz, which is composed of a scoop of coffee ice cream, homemade hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate-flavored coffee beans, and a cherry on top; and the Espresso Shake, which is composed of two shots of ice cream, a double shot of espresso, topped with whipped cream and coffee beans.

Farmacy Ice Cream and Soda Fountain

Photo: Farmacy Ice Cream & Soda Fountain's Instagram account, reposted from @juls.ph.
Photo: Farmacy Ice Cream & Soda Fountain’s Instagram account, reposted from @juls.ph.

Founded in 2014, Farmacy at BGC, Taguig was inspired by old American ice cream parlors. The artisanal ice creams here are priced at PHP290 (US$5.42) each, and come in several flavors, from Hot Fudge to Black Forest and Rocky Road.

They also have ice cream floats, which combine carbonated soda with creamy ice cream. For PHP270 (US$5.05), you can get an Orange Creamsicle, which pairs vanilla ice cream and soda; Very Berry Float, a combo of strawberry ice cream and blue soda; Black Cow, which is Coke topped with choco ice cream; or a Brown Cow, a marriage of root beer and vanilla ice cream.

For people who had a long day, you can chill by having what they call “Farmacy After Dark,” tempting concoctions made with ice cream and a dash of alcohol. Some of these include: the Rum and Coke Float (a union of vanilla ice cream, rum, and Coke), and the Jack and Coke Float (composed of vanilla ice cream, Jack Daniels, and Coke). At PHP320 (US$5.98), they might just offer the kick you’re looking for.

Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe

Photo: Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe's Facebook account.
Photo: Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe’s Facebook account.

Bingsu is a Korean snack similar to the Philippines’ halo-halo. Like the latter, it has shaved ice combined with condensed milk, syrup, jelly, and sometimes topped with ice cream. What makes it different is that it also includes fruits, as well as rice cake, cereal flakes, and sometimes even bits of cheesecake.

Now that Manila has seen a lot of Korean restaurants opening shop, it’s not surprising that there would also be a handful of dessert places offering bingsu to Pinoys and tourists.

One of the most well-received dining joints is Hobing, which has 10 locations including one in Glorietta, Makati; another in SM Aura in Taguig; and SM Megamall in Mandaluyong.

A quick look at their social media feed shows why so many have become bingsu converts: there’s Strawberry Bingsu, which uses strawberries harvested from Baguio; Mango Cheese Bingsu, a cacophony of mangoes, bits of cheesecake, and almonds; and Injeolme Bingsu, which comes topped with Korean glutinous rice cakes.

Annyeonghaseyo! Yeah, we’re into it.

Churreria La Lola

Photo: Churreria La Lola's website.
Photo: Churreria La Lola

Founded in 2014 by Spanish expats Sergei Rostoll, Dani Aliaga, and Uri Singla, Churreria La Lola’s  churros are made from scratch and cooked only after the customer has ordered it.

The quality of their wares has led the brand to grow to 16 branches, including one in Fora Tagaytay, another in Glorietta 4 in Makati, and one in Robinson’s Magnolia in Quezon City.

Choose which churro would make you happy: the Classico (medium for PHP110/2.05), Dark Choco, White Choco, and even Ube (purple yam) Choco. Another dessert worth trying is their ice cream sandwich PHP145 (US$2.70), which comes in vanilla and chocolate.

Le Petit Souffle

Photo: Le Petit Souffle's Facebook account.
Photo: Le Petit Souffle/FB

Visiting this restaurant is almost like walking into a real Parisian restaurant — from the French music playing in the background to the faux vines and trees adding oomph to the place, this resto has earned a ton of positive reviews since it opened in 2015 (Poblacion) and 2016 (SM Megamall, Mandaluyong).

Founded by pastry chef Miko Aspiras, it is, naturally, most famous for its souffle, with its Valrhona Guanaja being the bestseller. Made with 70 percent dark chocolate, its flawlessly puffy texture shows the effort that Aspiras and his staff have put into it.

Other fan favorites include their matcha red bean souffle pancake, which comes topped with icing sugar and matcha powder. Another delectable menu option is their 17-layer chocolate cake, a pastry so moist it’s the ideal ending to any meal.

The Lost Bread

Photo: The Lost Bread's Facebook account.
Photo: The Lost Bread/FB

With branches in SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, Glorietta in Makati, and Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, the Lost Bread does excellent French toasts and soft-serve ice cream.

Owned by Patty Marabut and Emil Ongchuan, the Lost Bread has deviated away from its former industrial and monochrome interiors and now has a younger, more colorful and hip atmosphere. Check out their French toasts (PHP185/US$3.45) which comes in flavors such as Chili Chocolate, Matcha Match, and Sweet Cheese.

Also worth a try are their bestselling Blue Vanilla Soft Serve which can be topped with options such as Chocolate Granola (PHP85/ US$1.58), a combo of chocolate granola bars and choco syrup; Gummy Lime (PHP90/US$1.68), a marriage of gummy bears and lime syrup; and White Chocolate Caramel (PHP90/US$1.68), topped with caramel popcorn and white chocolate sauce.

Another menu option you can dig into are their Over Shakes, which are worth a few Instagram posts because of their large toppings. A few worth sampling are Crushed Oreos (PHP270/US$5.04); Chocolate Spread (PHP295/US$5.50); and what could be many Pinoys’ favorite, the Chocnut PHP295/US$5.50).

Papa Diddi’s Handcrafted Ice Cream

Photo: Papa Diddi's Handcrafted Ice Cream's Facebook account.
Photo: Papa Diddi’s Handcrafted Ice Cream/FB

Businessman Paul Perez grew up on a farm, where his dad, Diddi, often made ice cream out of fruits they harvested. Perez used his knowledge of ice cream making to open this joint, because he found some commercially available products less than ideal, while artisanal brands were too expensive.

Located on the famed eat street Maginhawa at Teacher’s Village, Papa Diddi’s offers handcrafted ice cream such as Jackfruit Madness, which uses white cheese, jackfruit, and nuts; Purple Love, which is ube (purple yam) mixed with macapuno (kopyor coconut); and Mantequilla de Mani, which combines peanut butter and jelly.

Paper Moon Cafe

Photo: Paper Moon Cafe's Facebook account.
Photo: SM City North EDSA/FB

This joint’s delicate crepe cakes’ recipes were developed by Madame Kazuko Emy Wada, the woman known as the Grand Dame of Specialty Cakes, also known as the founder of New York Lady M Boutique.

Paper Moon has grown considerably over the years, and has 16 branches all over the metro, including one in Glorietta 3 in Makati, another in Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong, and another in Eastwood Mall in Libis, Quezon City.

This success comes largely from Wada’s famed Original Mille Crêpes (whole for PHP2,000/US$37.35), which are composed of twenty delicate handmade crêpes placed one on top of each other and layered with light pastry cream and covered in caramelized crust. You can also try other flavors such as Mango Mille, Chocolate Mille, and Ultimate Ube Mille all of which sell for PHP2,000 (US$37.35) for the whole cake.

Other desserts that Paper Moon Offers include the Checkered Cake (whole for PHP2,000/ US$37.35), the Red Velvet Moose Cake (whole for PHP1,800/US$33.61), and the Strawberry Short Cake (whole for PHP3,000/ US$56.02).

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