Mango madness

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MANGOES are very popular in the Philippines — served as a fruit shake, dried in packs as pasalubong, or kept fresh in the kitchen waiting to be sliced and eaten with rice like a modified California maki (even without the seaweed and crab sticks). Now Manila has a new restaurant that specializes in a variety of mango beverages and desserts.

The Fat Daddy’s Group, Inc. offers the taste of Philippine carabao mangoes from a different perspective with the opening of the Hui Lau Shan flagship store at SM Megamall Atrium on March 23.

“When I tasted Hui Lau Shan in Hong Kong, I said, ‘It’s a familiar taste with a twist,’” Freshnaida Versoza, president and CEO of Fat Daddy’s, told members of the press during last week’s soft opening. “We’re very used to mangoes already. We grew up drinking mango shake, eating fresh mangoes… It’s welcoming to Filipinos because they already know the taste of it.”

Hui Lau Shan — named after the founder’s father — first opened in Hong Kong in the 1960s as a purveyor of herbal tea. In the 1990s, the founder, Hui Chi-Yuk, thought of expanding the business by offering other products. Their mango sago drink became popular in Hong Kong.

Today Hui Lau Shan has 280 branches in China, Malaysia, South Korea, Canada, and in cities like New York, Paris, and Melbourne.

William Cheng, Hui Lau Shan general manager for international development, said that the brand considered customer taste and a good supply of mangoes when deciding on the location for expansion. He noted that finding a good business partner was why it took a while for them to come to the Philippines.

“I’m happy that we found a very good partner… Food and beverage is not an easy business. If they don’t have the passion, you can’t do it,” Mr. Cheng told members of the press.

The products served are similar to what is served in the Hong Kong stores, although the mangoes at the Megamall branch are sourced locally and will come from provinces like Guimaras, Nueva Ejica, and Cebu depending on the season.

The beverages range from fruit and milk smoothies, to fruit teas, and mango drinks infused with coconut. Customers may choose their preferred sweetness level from 0% to 200%.

Customers may also opt for desserts such as the mango chewy ball, mango mochi, and a mango pancake which is similar to a crepe but served like a stuffed scrambled egg.

All products are dairy free except the fruit and milk beverages. Prices range from P90 to P250.

“Food is a very interesting element. It can connect different people. When we talk about it, there is no barrier,” Mr. Cheng said. “It helps understand one culture from the other.”

Ms. Versoza said that the brand will soon be adding versions of Filipino drinks and desserts to the menu.

Following the opening of its flagships store, Hui Lau Shan has plans to open branches in UP Town Center, Eastwood Mall, Promenade Mall, SM North EDSA, SM Fairview, and SM Mall of Asia this year. Branches in provinces are also planned to open within three years.

On Hui Lau Shan’s public opening on March 23, the first 200 customers will get best-sellers for the discounted price of P50. The first 10 people in line will win special prizes. Lining up starts at 8 a.m. at the Mega B entrance near BDO and Pizza Hut. Hui Lau Shan is located at the 4F SM Megamall Atrium.

For more information, visit — Michelle Anne P. Soliman