Thursday, 30 April 2015

Restaurant Review: DJC Halo Halo & Snack Inn (Tiwi, Albay)

DJC Halo-Halo & Snack Inn

From Sinimbahan Ruins, we again boarded our van and were driven back to the Tiwi Municipal Hall were we were to all have lunch at the small DJC Halo-Halo & Snack Inn.  This restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and snacks at an affordable price. 

Among other dishes, I tried out the Bicol Express, a first for me. However, this restaurant is famous for their unique, delicious and popular halo halo. The business actually started as a halo halo place and they eventually added more snack items. 

Djohn's father - Mr. Domingo Clutario

As we arrived in Albay in April, the height of summer, it was only fitting, after our filling repast, that we find relief from the heat by indulging in their very own version of the Filipino summer favorite. DJC, by the way, is the initials of the proprietor, the 28 year old Mr. Djohn G. Clutario. I was truly bowled over when I tasted their halo halo, served Tiwi style, which made me close my eyes and just lick my lips with my tongue.  

Its taste was really indescribably good and it had a milky and smooth texture that melted in my mouth.  It had the usual but generous toppings of minatamis na saging saba (plantain bananas sweetened by being cooked in sugar syrup), tasty halayang ube (purple yam), macapuno and red gelatin sprinkled with lots of evaporated milk.

Most halo-halo I’ve tried was composed of about 70% shaved ice and 30% ingredients, but this halo-halo seemed like it was 70% ingredients and 30% ice. 

What makes this simple concoction truly unique is the hefty serving of not so sweet, but very yummy and super creamy leche flan (milk and egg flan) on top (which kind of binds the ingredients), the finely shaved ice (so easy for me to munch, it uses coconut juice and not water to make the ice) and the clincher to this mix which balances the sweetness – the salty grated cheese topping which created the perfect taste - savory and sweet in the mouth. There simply aren't enough words to describe the experience. 

DJC’s Halo-Halo is also served with ice cream on top but, in my opinion, the dessert tastes better without the ice cream which tends to overpower this dessert’s true taste. There are two servings of this not your usual halo-halo, the Special (PhP70) and the Supreme (PhP85). Extra milk cost PhP15. Other DJC specials include macapuno-ube (PhP50), banana-langka (PhP50) and saba con hielo (PhP35), toasted siopao (PhP25), pancit bihon (PhP90), pancit palabok (PhP40). DJC Halo-Halo and Snack Inn has started to expand and now has several branches in some malls in other cities in the Bicol region.

This colorful, taste bud-friendly treat, a reflection of the Pinoy palate (where sweet meets salty), truly brought a very Filipino dimension to the whole Tiwi experience. 

It may appear just like any other halo-halo in the country but, I could attest that it really tastes better than the rest. They should add this to the list of Bicol favorites that includes pili nutBicol Express and pinangat.
The restaurant (where the success of this business all started)in itself, should be declared as a must-see tourist attraction where one could taste the local culture of Tiwi. 

Whatever are DJC Halo-Halo’s secret ingredients, it has since made its mark across Bicol and I would definitely be coming back to this place to dine on this surprising, colorfully presented, really delicious, refreshing and creamy treat.

DJC Halo Halo & Snack Inn: 330 San Lorenzo St. (adjacent the municipal hall), Tiwi, Albay. Tel: (052) 488-5220. 
DJC Halo Halo & Snack Inn: Landco Business Park (near  near Gaisano  Pacific Mall), Legazpi City, Albay.  Tel: (052) 480 6868.
DJC Halo Halo & Snack Inn: Albay Tabaco City Mall, Tabaco City, Albay. Tel: (052) 435 3259. 
DJC Halo Halo & Snack Inn: West Park, Magsaysay Ave. (near the Basilica), Naga City, Camarines Sur. Tel: (054) 472 0446).

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