Hello, Vampire Penguin.
An adorable Vampire Penguin greeted us as soon as we approached its store located at Ayala on 30th. A display shelf with the different flavored ice, toppings and macarons were among the first things we noticed as we stepped inside the corner store.
Its name sure made a lot of diners curious. Thankfully, Leo, one half of the duo who conceptualized Vampire Penguin, was there to entertain all our silly questions. He enlightened us by sharing a little story about themselves and how related it is to Vampire Penguin.
Vampire Penguin is an oxymoron of sorts as it offers dessert that taste like ice cream but not quite. Just like its name, an adorable penguin was bitten by a vampire turning it into a fanged creature. And since he doesn’t want to cause any harm towards his family and fellow penguins, he left South Pole and went to the North Pole, an area where no penguins live. There, he met his love, a polar bear and also made a few friends over some of his delectable flavored ice treats. After several years of being in the North Pole and realizing that he’s not exactly a threat to anyone, he decided to return home and bring with him his sweet icy discovery.
This story is quite similar with how Vampire Penguin started. This shaved ice shop is a concept that started in California by two Filipino brothers who migrated to the US over a decade ago. After its success in the West, they figured that it is time to bring their well-loved products to the Philippines and I am so thankful that they did. (See the similarities?)
Leo and Amica sure spoiled us that afternoon with several desserts. We started with Strawberry Cheesecake (PHP280 | + PHP40 for extra cheesecake), Smoreos (PHP200, small | PHP260, large) and a delectable four layer flavored snow with Honeydew, Lychee, Mango and Strawberry.
The Strawberry Cheesecake would definitely tickle your sweet tooth with the scrumptious combination of strawberry and vanilla snow topped with crushed graham crackers, strawberry and raspberry bits, drizzled with white chocolate and strawberry sauce and condensed milk. Though it was a bit too sweet for me, I was able to finish half of it because it was just too irresistible. (Tip: Scrape off the sauce to make it less sweet.)
Smoreos would be an instant hit for kids and chocolate lovers. This one had more variety in terms of texture as one order includes cookies and cream snow, crushed graham crackers, Oreos and marshmallow drizzled with chocolate syrup. Though good, I think I’ll stick with fruit flavored treats as I find it more refreshing and more suitable to beat this scorching summer heat.
I fell in love with the four layered shaved snow. Unfortunately, this is not available for ordering. Leo and Amica offered it so that we could sample more flavors and all were heavenly! Quite light in terms of flavor but you could definitely taste which one’s which. My favorites are honeydew and lychee. (Pro tip: Amica strongly suggests lychee with popping boba and I wholeheartedly support it! It’s spectacular!!!)
We also tried the summer staple Halo-Halo (PHP225, small | PHP280, large) and it was love at first bite! This deconstructed halo-halo was not just tasty but also fun to eat. I didn’t mix the ingredients together as I like having full control on the portions of the ingredients I love. It was bliss munching on taro snow with munggo beans, taro paste, white beans, flan and jackfruit.
The Thai Tea snow (PHP125) was also something else. It tasted just like your usual milk tea but in shaved ice form on a plate. To make it a bit more interesting, you could add some toppings like crushed Oreo (PHP20) for texture.
But here’s the most interesting part of our visit... Secret keys.
Yes, we were confused at first too. Desserts and secret keys? Did they collaborate with Mystery Manila or something? Well, no. This is one of Leo’s ideas to reward loyal customers. After a certain number of visits, you get to have a secret key or pass to one of the off the menu treats. And we got a sneak peek with its Green Mango with Bagoong combination which was really good! (Just don't tell Leo I told you, okay?)
I definitely cannot wait to visit again soon to try the other flavors and shakes. I’ll try to get as many as I could so that I get a key after a few visits.