Most Filipinos know Davao for its durian, but as MAXI Mango tries to prove, the province also grows the most delectable mangoes.
The Davao-based business that started in 2017 has been gaining social media buzz in Metro Manila since it brought its first pop-up stall in Glorietta mall in Makati last month. Ever since word got out, people have been lining up like crazy to get a taste of their affordable desserts topped with fresh mangoes harvested all the way from Davao.
Proof? Well, we lined up for almost four hours to see what the hype was all about.
We arrived at their newly opened pop-up in Cubao’s Gateway Mall around at around 4:30pm on Wednesday, where we were greeted by a long queue of mango-crazed locals.
We wanted to try their mango float, their version of the Filipino refrigerator cake. It’s made with graham crackers, condensed milk, mangoes, and some soft serve ice cream. It sounds simple enough — something that can easily be assembled at home, right? We’ll get to that.
First, the line. That impossibly interminable line. Where does it end? We were there, we took photos — and we still can’t tell you where it ends.
“We lined up at around 2:50pm, but we still haven’t reached the middle by 5pm,” a 20-year-old woman told Coconuts Manila in Filipino as she checked out the front line situation for her friends.
She said she already tried the mango float with her officemate the other day. “It was good, which is why we’re queuing up now.”
The waiting game is excruciatingly long because of the social media hype around this brand. It’s as if you’ve camped out for Justin Bieber concert tickets (Lord knows I did and it ended up badly when he decided to cancel the rest of his tour last year).
An hour and 47 minutes later, shoppers started looking at us curiously.
“I wouldn’t line up just for that,” we overheard one man say in Filipino while he walked away with his friends.
“Is this an audition?” a woman sarcastically asked out loud to her peers.
Some onlookers actually asked us what we were lining up for. We told them we were queuing for mango float, and we were met with bewildered expressions — it’s as if they couldn’t believe someone would line up for something that could be easily made at home.
After 3 hours, another prospective MAXI Mango customer named Patricia Muncada told Coconuts Manila that she came from Mandaluyong City to try out the ice cream. She, like us, had no idea what the hype was about, but she felt it was something worth lining up for.
She also came up with a plan with her friend because each customer can only pick out three items from the menu at a time.
“Let’s get three items each and sell it to the people at the end of the line at a more expensive price,” she told her friend in Filipino.
Smart. A little evil, yes, but smart.
We were finally able to place an order just before the mall’s closing time. It only took about four hours, but we got our hands on: a 16 ounce Mango Shake (PHP85/US$1.57); a large order of the signature MAXI Mango (PHP85/US$1.57), which comes with mango puree; and a large Mango Float (PHP99/US$1.83).
The Mango Shake is thick and creamy — full-on mangoes. It’s perfect the way it is, blended perfectly, with bits of the fruit in the fold. There was no need for additional toppings.
This one was banking on sweet ripe mangoes, and it worked. It’s a refreshing drink with just the right amount of sweetness.
The Mango Float is the bestseller. A mango soft serve ice cream doused with crushed graham crackers, cream, and mango chunks. It’s both varying degrees of sweet, and slightly savory-salty from the crackers. It’s a lot like the ones served in Filipino parties, but sundae style.
Verdict: It’s good, but we were expecting a bit more from it. Nonetheless, it’s a sweet treat that’s nice to have on a hot day in Manila.
Finally, we tried that signature MAXI Mango that most of the hype train was built upon. This one was by far our favorite of the three. It’s another mango soft serve ice cream — rich, creamy, and topped with — you guessed it, mangoes. Again, they nailed getting the sweetness right on this one. It has a delectable, tangy flavor with a smooth aftertaste. This is the kind of dessert that causes intense, crazed cravings.
For those who only have room for one dessert, we suggest going with this baby.
View this post on Instagram
Coconuts Manila asked owner Michelle Velasquez about what she thinks makes MAXI Mango special — she explains that while other soft serve vendors drown their products in all kinds of toppings, they highlight their soft serve as the best part of MAXI Mango.
Velasquez shared that having people line up for their stall “makes us so happy that people deem our product worth waiting in line for.”
“But of course, we’re also embarrassed [for making them wait] and I wish they didn’t have to wait that long,” she shared, adding that the staff is doing their best to serve customers as quickly as possible.
“Our goal is to remove the stigma in Philippine society that the cheaper a product is, the lower its quality,” she shared. She said that she was just happy to create something affordable that appeals to everyone.
So, is it worth the hype?
Believe us when we say the hype is real, and these are some damn good mangoes.
Those who are down to kill some time and get a great mango dessert out of it, know this: It’s totally worth it. Just make sure to be with friends so the wait won’t get too excruciating, or lonely. And make sure to bring a power bank too.
Those who have missed out on their pop-ups, don’t worry — they’ll be opening their first permanent Manila branches at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City and Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas, Pasig City this October.
And that’s the end of our PSA, Coconauts. You’re welcome!
MAXI Mango is at 2/F Gateway Mall in Araneta Center Cubao, Quezon City from Sept. 21-23
Next pop-up: Glorietta mall in Ayala Center, 6811 Ayala Ave, Makati City from Sept. 24-30