(Sweet snacks from the Pinoy market)
Who doesn't like sweet snacks?
I grew up on an island which supplies sugar all over the world. The whole place is littered with sugarcane plantations and sugar centrals, one of which used to be the biggest refinery in Asia. And the smorgasbord of delicacies in the province is like a Who's Who of native sweets. But I'm wondering. If one loves to eat meat, he or she is carnivorous. If one is a vegan, he or she is herbivorous. What if someone likes sweet? Is he sucronivorous? Ha-ha-ha!
And one place in Seoul where I usually get my native delicacy fix is at Hyewha-dong's Pinoy Market. And this weekend, I made a quick trip to get a few sweet snacks: sapin-sapin, suman, banana-cue and banana turon. As I said, just a few. Ha-ha-ha! But as she was wrapping my snacks, the Filipina vendor had to ask me who's going to eat all these. Of course, I had to admit. My one word reply: "Ako!" ("Me!").
But during these Chuseok holidays, I discovered one more place in Seoul that offers another sweet kind of Philippine dessert: fresh mangoes!
When I visited my friend Kevin's home at the Bukchon Hanok Village near Anguk Station, I stumbled upon a cafe that caught my attention...Philippines Dessert Cafe! I was really surprised to see it along the way. Could it be that I was meant to discover it? Hmm. It must have been my sweet luck then!
Of all the places in Seoul, right in the neighborhood of my friend (Kev and his family actually live in an interesting 1930's hanok!), there is a cafe that serves floats and drinks made from the sweet Philippine mangoes! So, right after our lunch, I told my friend that we should try it.
I asked the lady at the counter (I presumed she owned the place) for the most popular item in her mango menu and I ordered it: the Snow Mango Float. It's a cupful of sweet mango slices and white cream, and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar to resemble 'snow'. And at the bottom of the cup is pureed mango. I have tried iced desserts in Seoul that had mango in it, but those varieties could not compare to this kind. This Snow Mango Float has the best ripe mango slices found in the Korean Peninsula! And they're from the Philippines, no less! Yellow, succulent, sweet, juicy and just perfectly ripened.
I asked the lady where in the Philippines their mangoes come from; they said it's from Carabao Island. I knew that Carabao Island has very good beaches, but I didn't know it has good mangoes, too! And they're right here in my cupful of sweet mango delight! And if I'm not mistaken, I could see Carabao Island from my window seat on my plane ride from Manila to the Bacolod-Silay Airport!
So, if you're craving for the best Philippine mangoes in your dessert, or just a cool mango juice drink, the Philippine Dessert Cafe in Gye-dong in the Jongno District may just satisfy your craving, too.
From Anguk Station's Exit 3, walk straight for about 34 meters, then turn left. After that turn, there should be shops on your left and on your right, the Hyundai office complex parking lot. Walk straight for about 540 meters. Yes, you'll be walking towards the Jung-Ang High School made famous by that Korean drama that started it all, Winter Sonata. About 50 meters before the end of the road, which is actually the school's gate, the dessert cafe is on your right. You won't miss it. It's decorated with big umbrellas and colorful, summer colors! I told the owners that what's missing is a beach. Their decors are from Boracay Beach, by the way.
So, if you're heading there this weekend, don't forget your swimwear. Ha-ha-ha!