It’s not a secret that Filipinos love sweets.
In this archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, you’ll find sweet delights in almost every corner – be it deep fried sugar-coated bananas, or sweet potatoes on sticks, or small plastic cups filled with sago’t gulaman, you’ll find something sweet to eat.
One of the most famous sweets that locals love is “sorbetes,” also known as dirty ice cream. Vendors pushing dirty ice cream carts sell this sweet and not-really-dirty delight on the streets for less than the price of a sundae at your nearby fast food chain.
This sweet treat, which comes in many flavors, has been loved by generations of Filipinos everywhere.
Now, Londoners can get a taste of this family favorite thanks to a family-run establishment named “Mamasons.”
Mamason’s Filipino Street Ice Cream and Coffee House
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream, located in Camden Town, serves good old dirty ice cream albeit with a few twists. The shop’s ice cream gurus make sure that every scoop makes someone happy – and reminiscent of Manila, if ever they’ve been there.
“It was awesome and it made me remember being back in the Philippines,” said one happy customer.
Sorbetes, in the Philippines, usually comes in a few basic flavors: “keso” (cheese), “ube” (purple yam), and chocolate. Mamasons sells its ice cream in flavors that would make Pinoys far from London envious of Londoners.
First, there’s the famous “bilog” or the Mamason bun. It’s basically a small “pandesal” (milk bun) that’s hot and crispy on the outside but filled cold ube ice cream inside.
Many say this sweet treat is fantastic.
Chef Andra Constantinescu of Mint & Rosemary says of this little wonder, “If that’s not magic – then I don’t know what is.”
Time Magazine, on the other hand, said, “With every bite you’ll get an explosion of hot, cold, sweet and creamy blended flavours.”
That sounds really appetizing, doesn’t it?
Then, there’s the intriguing black “buko” (coconut) ice cream.
This black-colored, buko-flavored ice cream contains activated charcoal sourced from coconut shells. It’s also served on a black-colored cone.
Other ice cream flavors include calamansi (a citrus fruit similar to the Japanese yuzu fruit) and popular drinks in the Philippines such as “kapeng barako” (a coffee variety native to the Philippines) and Milo, a malt drink.
So perhaps by now you’re asking, what makes Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream a hit?
First, Mamasons’ owners are hands-on with the business of making food and meeting customer needs.
Omar Shah, its owner, said in a video that instead of merely investing money, they really invest time to work. In fact, they themselves carried a 350kg ice cream-making machine inside after the delivery personnel left it outside the door.
Next, they innovate.
Mamasons offers new flavors every now and then. In fact, the Filipino ice cream they serve is a mix of traditional and modern ideas. Just think about that black buko ice cream, for instance.
“We have an amazing array of ingredients and our food is delicious,” Omar Shah, Mamasons’ owner and founder, told local news outlet ABS-CBN.
Third, they have great staff attending to customers.
Most reviews say that Mamasons’ staff are very welcoming. Simply put, Mamasons has both Filipino food and world-renowned Filipino hospitality in a very nice place.
When you look at Mamason’s Facebook page, you’ll find that a lot of visitors are satisfied, if not outright blown away by the products available.
“Gorgeous ice-cream to die for,” said one reviewer.
“Amazing Food and brilliant staff! Highly recommend!” said another.
One reviewer even went as far as saying “Better Filipino ice cream than in the Philippines. Don’t even bother eating dinner.”
Other Things to Try
Adventurous people looking to try more than just dirty ice cream can choose to order Mamasons’ other offerings. There’s the famous “halo halo” (a Filipino dessert which literally translates to “mix mix”), ube hot cocoa, Mamasons’ signature hot coco, and milkshakes that come in a selection of flavors.
Having opened its doors to the public just a few months ago, Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream is relatively new, but people are hoping to see it grow.
In the words of a satisfied customer, “Looking forward to coming back and seeing this grow into something even more amazing.”
Featured Photo Credit: Mamasons FB Page