The North Pole is still alive in Ozamiz under new owners but the same management and has been reincarnated as Halohalo Arcade. Except that the old name is still displayed outside.
North Pole started in 1966 and is one of Ozamiz City’s popular if not iconic snack places before the entry of popular national fastfood chains. It was the go to place for merienda and, of course, halohalo, its specialty.
During summer vacations and I was holed up in my cousin’s place in Tangub City, eating at North Pole was one of the highlights to cap a trip in Ozamiz City. It was that popular. But times have changed and the pressure to survive has been knocking on the door of the snack place ever since. Prior to this visit, It was still the old North Pole with an unremarkable halohalo.
But last June, during a stopover in Ozamiz as part of a long West Mindanao trip, I was looking for the old haunts and spaces to have lunch before hopping on the ferry to Kolambugan in Lanao del Norte. And I just happened to see North Pole.
The place has been renovated. Instead of the airconditioned restaurant of yesteryears, its now alfresco with a rather cheerful interior with colored walls. Instead of the usual fare, it now offers rice meals and viands. Of course, halohalo is still staple. Feeling not so hungry, I ordered their fresh lumpia and a halohalo value meal worth P85 ($2) that already includes a slice of mango float.
The food? Uhm, the fresh lumpia needs to be improved and its not using the traditional garlic sauce. Instead of ubod (young coconut pith), it only used cabbages. The halohalo? It was something different, and better than the last time I tried it here. Though it is not at par in comparison to some high end halohalos, you’re the one to put in sugar for the desired sweetness.
But the surprise? Pieces of suman with its gingery flavor was something that I didn’t expect but provided a different kind of texture and flavor. Something that I’ve experienced before in Lucban. The mango float was also something that made the visit memorable. It was just delicious. Delicate layers of slices of mango, graham crackers and cream that was really memorable, where the sweetness of the mango carried well the dessert.
North Pole halohalo in Ozamiz City is still feeling the pressure of competition. But for travelers and folks in the vicinity, its always nice to patronize what is local than going to restaurants and food places that can be found anywhere. Even if there’s less of a nostalgia now, I will still recommend this place.