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.”
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.