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I am known to splurge on high tech kitchen gadgets. A touchscreen air fryer that is a little too big for my New York kitchen countertop? Got it. A galactic 1250 watt microwave that heats up food almost too quickly? Yes, I bought it spontaneously during the quarantine. But one thing I’ll never get excited about is my shaved ice machine. I grew up making large amounts of fluffy ice cream for Halo-Halo with my siblings, and whether in my mom or aunt’s kitchen, I can’t remember ever using anything other than a hand-operated machine to do the job to do . Even though I’m an adult now who loves a gadget with bells and whistles, I will never replace my manba manba handshaved ice machine, which I use for not only halo halo but also spike slushies, with an electric one.
MANBA ice shaver and snow cone machine
Assembling Halo-Halo is objectively fun – alternating layers of sweet red beans with coconut gel, jackfruit, and ube ice cream in a tall glass – but for me to turn the handle and watch the ice splinters fall takes me right back to my childhood. When family grilling, making grated ice cream never felt like work for us kids as the machine was almost like a toy. We took it outside on the porch and fought over who would turn to operate the crank, motivated by the knowledge that the more shaved ice we made, the more halo we got to eat.
But the ice razor I used when I was young had its drawbacks. It required large ice cylinders so we had to plan ahead and make sure the molds were filled the day before. Sometimes I would get halo cravings only to find that we hadn’t prepared blocks of ice – a special type of torture. This is not a problem with the Manba, as it can be filled with normal ice cubes (a silicone ice bowl is even included). Another plus is that it is so compact. About 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide, it’s the perfect size for anyone – cough, cough, me – who has to prepare a single serving of Halo-Halo every Tuesday. Despite its petite size, it’s sturdy built and can shatter a cup of ice cube into delicate, snow-like fluffs in 30 seconds with minimal elbow grease.
With my own ice machine, I can always cool down with a glass of Halo-Halo when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees. But it’s so easy to use, clean, and store that I use it for all of my summer beverages as well. There’s nothing that makes you feel like you’ve really earned that lime and lemongrass slushy or strawberry fresé like turning your own crushed ice by hand.
The Filipino dessert layers shaved ice and condensed milk over all sorts of contrasting ingredients for a deliciously chewy, crispy, creamy, sticky, and refreshing result.
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