Summer may come and go. In fact, it is already in the horizon. But every now and then, it becomes hot and humid in the city, just like any city being situated in a tropical country like ours. During these times, I usually try to find a way to keep myself cool, like going to the mall and grabbing something to eat. But one of the best ways I keep myself cool is by going to the nearest halo-halo spot in Cebu.
While there are a number of halo-halo stores in Cebu City, one particular store has caught my attention after a number of friends and acquaintances told me to try it out.
This store is MONBIS’ Halo-Halo in Tisa, one of the best halo-halo spots in Cebu according to locals.
Customers waiting for their orders at MONBIS’ Halo-Halo
The halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert made of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and various fruits and other ingredients. It is normally served in a tall glass or bowl. There have been numerous variations of this preferred summer dish depending on the ingredients used.
MONBIS’ Halo-Halo has built a reputation for making one of the best halo-halo in Cebu City. This is evident in the number of customers who flock their store each and every night. In fact, the place hands out priority numbers for their customers before they can make their orders. While it takes some time before you can get your order, the wait is certainly worth it.
The Taste Test
One rainy Sunday evening, I visited the place together with a college buddy and his wife. We wanted to see for ourselves why people were willing to wait just to have a taste of the halo-halo of MONBIS'. On our way there, we were mulling over the possible ingredients of their version of the halo-halo and what makes it popular.
Orders ready to be served
We arrived at MONBIS’ Halo-Halo at around 7:00 PM and it was already full. We had to wait for a few minutes before we were seated. The place is rather small and almost occupied by the store’s counter and production area. The tables are located right in front of the store with a canopy protecting customers from the elements. Even though they had to wait for their turn to give their orders, everyone appeared eager to get the chance to taste Monbis’ decadent dessert.
When we finally got our order, I first took some shots of the dish before having my first taste. I noted that similar to other variations of halo-halo, the halo-halo of Monbis has a number of fruits in it, including banana, mango, and jackfruit. It also had a scoop of ube-flavored (purple yam-flavored) ice cream along with crushed graham crackers and puffed rice. The whole dish is drizzled with a generous amount of Hershey’s chocolate syrup and garnished with a colorful wafer stick.
Taking a closer look at the halo-halo of Monbis
What caught my attention was the ice they used. The ice has fine granules and mixes well with the other ingredients. In fact, after I mixed the whole dish together, it had a similar texture to an ice cream sundae. While my college buddy found the halo-halo too sweet, I found it just right and finished the dish within a few minutes.
Meeting the Owners
MONBIS' actually came from the names of the owner of the place, Edmon and Bambi. I got the chance to talk to Edmon and he said when they started around four years ago, halo-halo was just one of the items on their menu. The menu included a number of dishes such as siomai (pork dumplings), beef stroganoff, and sizzling dishes. But, around two years ago, they decided to concentrate on offering halo-halo after it became their best seller. They opened the second location of the store around four months ago and, similar to the first location, it has drawn in customers like bees to honey. The main store is located close to another hole in the wall selling batchoy (a noodle dish) and siomai.
The brightly colored signboard of MONBIS’ Halo-Halo
Edmon and Bambi are hands-on when it comes to their business. Edmon takes care of production, from preparing the ice shavings to putting in the different fruits, crushed grahams, and other ingredients into the bowl. On the other hand, Bambi handles the orders of their customers as well as receiving the payment and giving out change. The couple has a number of assistants to help in the preparation and serving of the halo-halo, as well as cleaning the tables.
While a good number of their customers are local residents, Edmon said that there are instances when they would meet someone from Lapu-Lapu City, Consolacion, and even Carcar City. The customers come from all walks of life: students, businessmen, and ordinary office workers. When we visited the place, the customers on the table next to us were students from a local university while a family of four occupied another table. There were also some rather affluent-looking customers waiting for their orders.
It’s a little past seven and MONBIS’ Halo-Halo has already served 70 customers.
Edmon said they do not offer any variations of their halo-halo since it will not be easy to monitor who ordered a regular halo-halo or a special halo-halo. Hence, they are only selling one type of halo-halo, which is actually rather special based on the ingredients and how it tasted. The price of the halo-halo is PhP70, which is quite affordable especially with the ingredients they use.
MONBIS’ Halo-Halo is open from 7:00 PM to 12:00 midnight from Monday to Saturday. While they are normally closed on Sundays, there are instances when they would open their second location when there are a good number of customers who request them to open. You can get in touch with MONBIS’ Halo-Halo through (+632) 255-4439.
How to get to MONBIS’ Halo-Halo
The best way to get to the second location of MONBIS’ Halo-Halo is to bring your own vehicle. Just follow Katipunan Street, and Monbis should be on the right side of the road. You won’t miss it since you can immediately see their sign and a throng of people waiting for their orders outside. You can also take a taxi and simply tell the driver to bring you to MONBIS’ Halo-Halo along Katipunan Street in Tisa.
Last look at MONBIS’ Halo-Halo
If you have a tight budget, you can take a jeepney headed for the place instead. Just make sure to tell the driver or conductor to drop you off at MONBIS’ Halo-Halo. If you are coming from SM City Cebu, just take a jeepney marked 12G. On the other hand, if you are coming from Ayala Center Cebu, you can hop on a jeepney marked 12L. Both jeepneys pass through Katipunan Street.
Things to Remember
• Be at the place before it opens at 7:00 PM if you want to be among the first in line. People start coming in even before MONBIS’ Halo-Halo is open for business.
• Since the tables are close to the road, always mind your belongings. While the place is relatively safe, it always pays to be alert.
• If you are not at ease with sitting on a table close to the road, you can opt to order take out. Just make sure to tell Bambi that it’s for takeout.
• MONBIS’ Halo-Halo only offers street parking, so it’s best to get to the place early or you may find yourself taking a bit of a hike from your parking space to the store.
MONBIS’ Halo-Halo is relatively a newcomer in the food industry of the Queen City of the South. Despite this, it has already made its mark in a market that is known to scrutinize every new store that opens in the city. It is a welcome addition to the food landscape in the Tisa-Labangon area. The halo-halo of Monbis is definitely heaven-sent for anyone with a sweet tooth and something you can look forward to after a stressful day at the office.
All photos are from the writer.
About Peter Parcon
After leaving spending 16 years of his professional life in the academe, Peter decided to try his luck in the world of online freelancing. For the past eight years, he has been creating content for clients all around the world. He can work on just about any topic - from tattoos to technology and food to finance. He dreams of visiting every island in the archipelago some day.
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