Purple Patch Halo-Halo by Darrow Montgomery
Purple Patch Halo-Halo by Darrow Montgomery

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Several Asian countries have a take on a sweet treat that melds shaved ice with a potpourri of brightly colored, multi-textural ingredients like mochi, red bean, pudding, sweetened condensed milk, jellies, and sliced fruit. They one-up other desserts by providing a sense of wonderment and adventure—something like seeing color for the first time, but with your taste buds. Avoid getting bored by your last course at the following four restaurants.

Purple Patch

3155 Mount Pleasant St. NW

Mount Pleasant Filipino restaurant Purple Patch also serves fun-to-say halo-halo, which translates to mix-mix and is not unlike a sundae. Try it in their upstairs dining room for $9. Their take on the textural playground is elaborate and includes coconut gel, red beans, jackfruit, white beans, sugar palm, ube, shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk, leche flan, ube ice cream, and toasted coconut. 

Laura Hayes

Spoken English

The LINE DC Hotel, 1770 Euclid St. NW

One of renowned pastry chef Pichet Ong’s desserts at Spoken English is a spiffy version of a Japanese shaved ice dessert known as kakigōri. It contains tapioca pudding flavored with Calpico (a Japanese soft drink with a yogurt-like taste), red beans cooked in Okinawa sugar, and cherry blossom granita. Ong tops off the layered dessert with strawberry “crumbs” and black lime powder that’s tangy and aromatic like umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum). The $14 dessert can easily feed two and is labeled as “Black” on the dessert menu.

Laura Hayes

SnoCream Company at the Block

4221 John Marr Drive, Annandale

After gorging oneself on Korean barbecue in Annandale, swing by The Block for a SnoCream Taiwanese shaved ice dessert. The Asian food hall is a permanent home for Arturo Mei’s business, which also serves giant boba teas. SnoCream stands out from the pack because patrons can fully customize their bowl of bliss by selecting which flavor of fluffy ice they would like as a base (go with Thai iced tea or pandan), plus the toppings ranging from bursting tapioca pearls, jellies, and plump lychees to various childhood cereals and Japanese Pocky sticks for crunch. A regular costs $6, a large, $7. 

Cathal Armstrong


751 Wharf St. SW

This newcomer at The Wharf serves Thai, Korean, and Filipino cuisines. So far customers seem to be gravitating toward the Filipino dishes, and that trend should continue when it comes to dessert. Kaliwa serves a take on halo-halo ($9) featuring evaporated milk ice, bananas, pandan jelly, red beans, and ube ice cream. Two colors really pop—bright green from the sweet, grassy-tasting pandan jelly and deep purple from the ube ice cream.