Ube Ice Cream Tacos Are the Bay Area’s Homegrown Answer to the Choco Taco

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Three ice cream tacos in assorted flavors.
Macs by Icky is known for its Bay Area take on the famous Klondike's Choco Taco. The frozen treats are available in several flavors — including, most strikingly, a version that features crushed pistachios and ube ice cream (right).  (Courtesy of Macs by Icky)

The ube renaissance is real. And in the Bay Area, we’re at the epicenter of its deliciously purple core.

With the popular Filipino ingredient blitzing the food scene — appearing everywhere from the cover of Abi Balingit’s viral cookbook, Mayumu, to the aisles of Trader Joe’s — the tropical yam has blown up to become, arguably, the biggest regional crossover hit since the Mexican quesabirria craze. Utilizing its distinct lilac color and starchy versatility, today’s Filipino American food makers have revolutionized the way ube is being presented to, and consumed by, anyone with a mouth — in the form of pretzels, breads, cookies, jams, cocktails and more.

Perhaps its most genius iteration to date? Macs by Icky‘s ube ice cream taco — a homemade waffle cone folded and dipped in ube white chocolate, then stuffed with ube ice cream and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Naturally, it resembles Klondike’s famously discontinued Choco Taco.

The new Bay Area spinoff originated with Victoria Sablan, a Filipina American from Union City who remembers ordering Choco Tacos as a kid when Taco Bell and roving ice cream trucks prominently sold the frozen treat. Its discontinuation felt like losing a part of childhood. So Sablan decided to bring it back by adding her own vibrant touch: ube.

“Ube wasn’t as readily available as it is now,” Sablan says about her lifelong love of the delicacy. “You couldn’t just buy ube ice cream at any grocery store. It was a specialty. If I came home from school and there was ube, I didn’t want to share, and I didn’t ask where my parents got it from.”

A tray of cannoli stuffed with ube cream and sprinkled with crushed pistachios.
Ube features prominently across the Macs by Icky menu. Pictured here: ube pistachio cannoli. (Courtesy of Macs by Icky)

Sablan, who began baking as a young girl in a multi-generational immigrant home, has experimented with ube -based goods since high school. These days, her practice and creativity are paying off. In recent years, you can find her family-run side business, Macs by Icky, posted up around the Union City, Newark and Fremont area. An East Bay flavor come across in everything she does.


“People have always called me Icky,” says Sablan, who has a full-time job in healthcare. “And ‘Macs’ is because I started out making macarons, and because of my husband — he likes Mac Dre.”

Her professional food efforts began accidentally in 2019 when Sablan made bags of “muddy mix” — a variation of “puppy chow,” the Midwestern sweet snack — for her pharmacy staff during nurse appreciation week. Shortly after, friends wanted more, so she playfully added ube and Oreo chunks for an infusion she’d never tasted elsewhere. After that, friends and family clamored for more. She’s been using her imagination to create Filipinoized desserts ever since, from ube ricotta cannolis to “ubenana” (ube and banana) pudding.

As she enters her early 30s, Sablan — along with her husband, Frank, a Filipino-Chamorro who attended the same high school as her — are mashing the ube gas pedal with their uniquely Pinoy, extremely millennial creations. And they’re making a (purple) mark on Union City’s underground food scene.

“It’s popping off,” she says. “Especially in the Bay, where there’s hella Filipinos. We’re very open [as a community], so our friends become Filipino even if they’re not. Everyone in the Bay Area is a little Filipino. When other people see our foods, they trust our taste.”

In addition to co-managing Macs By Icky on their spare weekends, Sablan and her husband also host monthly events for other foodmakers. Their flagship function, “UC the Vibes,” brings a rotating cast of established and emerging small businesses to Union City’s Birdhaus Beer Garden for a day party, which includes musical performances from local artists like popular Union City rapper Darrell Medellin, along with live DJs, merch and, of course, food that smacks.

The community gathering began in 2021 when the Sablans were cited by the city for selling food without a permit. Since the couple was largely focused on their professional careers, they didn’t have much time or space to learn about the logistical and legal aspects of running a food business. After their experience with Alameda County’s health department, which Sablan says wasn’t easy, they decided to undergo their own entrepreneurial education in order to teach other community members how to level up their hustles professionally.

“Someone complained to Union City about us [selling food]. We honestly didn’t know,” says Sablan. “People sell tamales down the street, or small plates, so we didn’t think anything of it. There’s not any education on it. If you call the health department, they’re not that helpful and no one coaches you through it.”

Small jars of purple banana-ube cream pudding, topped with crushed pistachios.
‘Ubenana,’ the pop-up’s bright purple reinterpretation of a classic banana cream pudding. (Courtesy of Macs by Icky)

These days, Macs By Icky is adored in the local “food vending family,” regularly collaborating with and learning from successful pop-up hits like Al Pastor Papi and Pineapple Whips while simultaneously mentoring nascent, homegrown operations like Anthony’s Kitchen — a Hawaiian shrimp food slinger that got its at the Sablans’ events and has since expanded to other venues.

Like many immigrant-raised entrepreneurs, the Sablans have learned how to leverage their come-up in order to help feed other aspiring makers.

“We get vendors and coach them, walking them through how to get insurance and how to get a permit with the health department, so that after an event [like UC the Vibes] they can flourish and do it around the Bay Area if they want to,” Sablan says. “We want to offer our knowledge. There’s room for everyone to eat.”

A relatively small community with an outsized Filipino population, Union City hasn’t necessarily been known as a hub for exciting Bay Area cuisine in the past. Squished between Oakland and San Jose, and overshadowed by the larger neighboring communities of Hayward and Fremont, Union City is a place where many Bay Areans only go to visit extended family. That hasn’t stopped Macs By Icky — it has only gassed them up to go harder in the food game for their city.

At 6.64%, the Bay Area boasts the highest percentage of Filipino Americans per capita of any metro region on the United States mainland, eclipsed only by Hawaii. And given that 50% of Filipino Americans were born in the U.S., compared to an average of 43% for other Asian diasporas, Fil Ams have mastered the art of cultural fusion and generational translation.

Union City is a textbook example. An impressive 20% of the city’s households are Filipino households, making it pound for pound one of the most Filipino-saturated places in the nation — the ideal birthplace for a certified Bay Area dessert like the ube ice cream taco.

Rather than picking up shop and catering to trendier parts of the Bay, the Sablans are inviting other parts of the Bay to experience what their home city has got to offer, sometimes straight off their porch.

“[Union City] gets overlooked a lot, but it’s what we know,” says Sablan. “We like it here because we’re near both of our parents, our friends and his grandparents. Even though we’re fully established with our business now, we’re still doing it from home.”


The next edition of UC the Vibes will be held on Sun., May 21, at Birdhaus Beer Garden (3821 Smith St., Union City) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The pop-up event will take a break in June, but return to Birdhaus on Sun., July 23.