Kakigori: Have You Tried This Popular Japanese Shaved Ice Dessert?


Aside from our top-notch skills in math, our unkickable addiction to rice, and our overly superstitious beliefs, Asians have something else in common. We really love ice desserts.

The Singaporeans and Malaysians have their ais kacang, the Koreans have their bingsu, the Vietnamese have their che ba mau, the Thais have their nam keng sai, and we, of course, have our halo-halo. (Read: Where to Get Bingsu in Manila)

So how did ice become such a big hit this part of the world? As much we’d like to think the Filipinos started the whole trend with our mixture of ice, evaporated milk, leche flan, ube, and sweetened beans, we’re not the genius masterminds. The idea of turning ice into dessert actually came from the noggins of the Japanese!

Japanese kakigori: The original halo-halo

Kakigori is older than your lolo and lola combined. The Japanese were already eating it as early as the Heian period which, if you weren’t paying attention in history class, happened in the 11th century.

Japanese Kakigori in Manila

Kakigori: The Original Halo-Halo

It was pretty crude how they made kakigori back in the day, using just a knife to shave ice into a bowl. They then flavored it with sweet sap from hydrangeas and ivy. But it was considered dessert for royalty because it was made from natural ice formed during the peak of the winter. Unless you were born into nobility, you’ve got zero chance of being served kakigori for dessert!

But ever since ice became a lot cheaper and more available, the rule about who does and doesn’t get to eat kakigori didn’t apply anymore. So now, even us lowly beings get to dig into the icy cold treat!

When the Japanese were in the Philippines during the WWII, immigrants made a living by putting up little stalls and selling desserts of cooked red beans topped with ground ice and flavored with sugar and milk. Their businesses were so successful some even put up bazaars!

That was our first-ever encounter with the Japanese ice dessert, a concoction we would later on Filipinize. Gotta give the Japanese props because if they didn’t introduce us to their kakigori, the halo-halo at Razon’s, Chowking, Milky Way, or Max’s may not even exist!

Where to get Kakigori in Metro Manila

Kakigori may be an ancient dessert but it’s just starting to make it big in Manila. If you want to beat everyone to the upcoming craze, there are a few cafes and restaurants around the Metro that serve up the dessert.

According to the Japanese, you can tell a bowl of kakigori is good if it’s fine and fluffy like the texture of freshly-fallen snow (but for those of us who have never touched or tasted snow, we’ll just have to rely on our imaginations!) Try these out and let us know what you think about their kakigori on the looloo app!

1. Ikigai Kakigori Cafe

If Cafe Seolhwa is making bingsu extremely popular in Manila, Ikigai is giving them a run for their money with their kakigori. Customers are keeping this tiny cafe in Tomas Morato busy even after peak hours with their orders of Chocolate, Coffee, Mango, Matcha, and Kuromitsu (Japanese sugar syrup) Kakigori.

Roy Lambert T. who has visited Ikigai Kakigori three times and absolutely swears by this place, said in his looloo review that the Chocolate Kakigori (made up of chocolate shaved ice, koko krunch, brownies, crushed oreos, and chocolate ice cream) deserves a ten out of five stars! He described it as perfect from the presentation down to the flavors.

Ikigai Kakigori Cafe can be found at the Pos Bldg., Sct. Madriñan St. cor. Tomas Morato Ave., Tomas Morato, Quezon City, Metro Manila.

2. Eri Curry

We usually hit up Eri Curry to satisfy cravings for Katsu or Crispy Chicken Curry . But you might want to order up a bowl of their kakigori after your hot and spicy meal to cool down your tastebuds!

When it comes to kakigori variety, they give us a lot to choose from. All of the fruity persuasion, we get refreshing flavors like mango, strawberry, blueberry, lychee, green apple, and banana split. If you feel like channeling your inner unicorn, get their Rainbow Kakigori, a colorful creation that’s one third strawberry, one third blueberry, and one third green apple, topped off with a scoop of ice cream!

Eri Curry can be found on the 3/F of Atrium, SM Megamall, EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.

3. Hana Restaurant

For legit takoyaki in Manila, Hana Restaurant in Little Tokyo is your best bet. But aside from these ball-shaped Japanese snacks, it’s well-known for one more thing: kakigori! So be sure to order up a bowl for a sweet ending to your meal.

For just ₱90, you get a heaping pile of ice in flavors like grape, lemon, peach, melon, strawberry, and ramune (Japanese soda). You also get the option to add milk, ice cream, or red beans to it. But if you want a more special treat, they have what they call Ujikintoki which is shaved green tea ice topped off with red beans.

Hana Restaurant can be found at Chino Roces Ave., Little Tokyo, Makati, Metro Manila.

4. Marufuku Japanese Restaurant

Found behind an old building in Ortigas, Marufuku isn’t the flashiest of the restaurants in Manila. But those who do know about this hidden gem enjoy the Japanese dishes that come out of its kitchen.

Aside from its secretive location, there’s another thing not a lot of us know about Marufuku. It has kakigori on its menu! They have it in flavors like mango and matcha, but if you’re craving for something that’s familiarly close to home, try out their Halo-Halo Kakigori made up of banana, langka, and shaved frosted milk!

Marufuku Japanese Restaurant can be found on the G/F of Crescent Bldg., 29 San Miguel Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig, Metro Manila.

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About Author

Denise Jose

Denise is a recovering food addict. She distracts herself with photography and keeps off the pounds by doing pilates. She is still struggling, however, and has occasional relapses. Her food comas are mostly induced by oily burgers and chocolate desserts.