I’m always on the lookout for the best place to eat out in when in a new city. Luckily, our host, Thirdy of SevenOneHundred led us to the go-to place when one’s looking for a quick snack in Dipolog City, Julie’s Halo-Halo.
Started in 1956, the eatery has been serving the delectable Filipino refreshment to the people of Dipolog for more than fifty years now. It is located near the Zamboanga del Norte Capitol and can easily get your attention with its huge sign above its striking yellow and orange walls.
The place is a simple hole-in-the-wall affair; the exterior walls and window panes are made of painted wood planks and the floors are of waxed concrete typical of building traditions of bygone years. Julie’s furnishing is a different matter though, the tables are still the same ones that served people from the 1950’s. Beyond its Formica surface, one can see the intricate wooden carvings off its sides and legs, something you’d rarely see nowadays except perhaps on your grandma’s home.
Although they also serve arroz caldo and other classic local snacks, Julie’s specialty, as indicated by its name, is Halo-Halo. Every Filipino of course knows what a Halo-Halo is, but for the sake of those who have no idea what it is, let’s do a Halo-Halo 101.
A Halo-Halo is a traditional Filipino refreshment that consists of various sweetened fruits and ingredients; bananas, brown mongo, langka, beans, garbansos, nata de cocos, marble tapiocas, jell-o’s, to name a few. All these are scooped by the spoonful and chucked at the bottom of a tall glass. The whole thing is then piled with huge servings of crushed ice which is then heavily poured with milk. The concoction is topped with either leche flan, halaya, or ice cream; in some cases all of them. But it doesn’t end there, the name Halo-Halo, literally translated in English is Mix-Mix. So as the name suggest, one should mix everything up using a spoon. The trick here is how to do so without the ice spilling over your glass.
My personal bar for the refreshment was never the same after tasting Casa Rap’s Halo-Halo in Batangas, but I was willing to give Julie’s Halo-Halo a fighting chance. So we each ordered a serving of the famous refreshement which cost us Php50.00 per glass.
At first glance, it looks like any other Halo-Halo I’ve seen; served on a classic high glass with all the aforementioned ingredients and finished with leche flan toppings. I started mixing. I don’t like this part though, since I always spill ice over the glass, good thing the glasses are placed on saucers.
The part I like best is when everything’s all mixed and ready for the taking. I spooned mouthfuls and was rewarded with a very sweet cold fruity explosion of flavors. I slowed down and tried to savor the individual taste; I can definitely find the lanka, the corn, and most surprisingly, the milk. The milk is somehow different from all the Halo-Halo’s I’ve tried. I’m guessing they use powdered milk for this one, which actually compliments it better than evaporated milk.
I also like how their Halo-Halo’s sweetness doesn’t seem to be artificial. Most I’ve tried uses sugar for sweeteners, but Julie’s sweetness seems to originate from the fruits mixed within the refreshment itself.
While eating, I was debating with myself if Julie’s Halo-Halo has finally upped the ante again for my personal best Halo-Halo. It is as good as Casa Rap’s although in a different way, this is a more punch-in-the-gut Halo-Halo version with its ultra-sweet milky flavor. It’s hard to put a decision since they are both so good, so I’ll chicken out and leave it all up to you. Next time you find yourself in Dipolog City, check out Julie’s Halo-Halo, drop me a line and tell me what you think.