Wasabi ice cream for dessert?

Japanese food lovers love to eat in izakayas. This is because izakayas are a type of informal Japanese bar that serves alcoholic drinks and snacks and, similar to Spanish tapas bars and American taverns or pubs, are casual places where friends and colleagues meet up and enjoy some drinks and food. The ambiance is cool and relaxed. Some serious izakayas even serve really good Japanese food and these are not as expensive as those you order in Japanese restaurants. They are like hole-in-the-walls that serve freshly made/cooked and delicious Japanese food—the kind you discover and bring friends and family to.

Matcha Crunch gelato.
Wagyu cubes.
Crispy shrimp maki
Kimchi fried rice


One of the newest and most highly regarded izakayas in the metro is 102 Izakaya, which was established by the husband-and-wife team of LA and Rose Valles in June 2018. Its first branch can be found at 102 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, and since some izakayas are named after their stall numbers, the Valles couple decided to call their place 102 Izakaya, naming it after their address.

102 Izakaya’s menu consists of traditional and modern Japanese dishes. It was designed to cater to diners who are out for a casual lunch-out, afternoon snacks with coffee, day drinking, casual dinner, or all-night drinking and munching. Must-tries include rolls like Crispy Shrimp Maki and 102 Special Maki, kimchi fried rice (that fried egg on top completes the meal!), Chicken Karaage (so crispy and delightful to the bite), beef usuyaki (teppanyaki beef rolls with mushroom stuffing), and wagyu cubes (so buttery, so tender that it melts with every bite).

“Our goal is to create a go-to comfort Japanese restaurant that will cater to whatever you are feeling that day,” says LA.

Then something magical happened in February 2023. The Valles couple met the owners of Karabella Dairy—mother-and-son Jan and Eric Buenaflor, and family friend and business partner Alfred Ng—in a golf tournament organized by RestoPh, and talked about ice cream. Karabella, after all, makes unique flavors of gelatos using carabao’s milk. Thus, they ended up deciding to create Japanese flavored gelatos for 102 Izakaya, which served generally common ice cream flavors back then.

One week later, here comes Karabella with their perfected formulas for wasabi gelato and matcha gelato. Yes, wasabi! One spoonful, and the Valles were hooked on ‘Sweet-ish Wasabi,’ which showcases the renowned pungency and mustard-like essence of Japanese horseradish sushi lovers swear by.

“We wanted to serve wasabi as a gelato that will showcase a party in your mouth—having the combination of sweet, spicy and earthy notes in a cold soothing creamy dessert,” says LA.

And, yes, matcha! That quintessential Japanese green tea that is loaded with antioxidants and has an earthy taste and grassy aroma. The matcha gelato is now known as Matcha Crunch.

Both Sweet-ish Wasabi and Matcha Crunch are now served exclusively at 102 Izakaya, where they are available in cup and pint sizes. For dessert alone, diners have all the more reasons to keep going back to the izakaya.

The partnership between 102 Izakaya and Karabella, though, did not end with the two gelato flavors. They came up with two more—Tablea Chocolate (tablea chocolate gelato handcrafted from pure cacao beans for an exquisite velvety treat bursting with intense flavors) and Salted Egg Caramel (which blends the rich caramel of Karabella’s Salted Caramel Gelato with salted egg for a sublime flavor experience). Now, these two are available in selected supermarkets such as Metro Gaisano, The Marketplace, and Shopwise.