Diamond Hotel Ensaimadas – Not My Type At All!!!


Following my review of commercial ensaimadas on the eve of Christmas 2005, several readers and other sources have since suggested that I try some other commercially available ensaimadas to see if I would like them. I had the opportunity to try the Pastelleria Mallorca ensaimadas at a Food & Wine Society merienda, and thought they were quite good, and I also tried other sources of Hizon ensaimadas (not Landmark basement outlet) but remained unimpressed. I have continued to buy my favorite Medina ensaimadas whenever I find them (they disappeared for a while for some reason), and I have been curious to try the Diamond Hotel ensaimadas, but not curious enough to make a special trip to that part of town. So when I spied a Baker’s Special at Rockwell Mall with a stall by The Diamond Hotel Pastry Shop yesterday, I thought that would be an excellent opportunity to try their ensaimada (and I threw in a mini apple tart tatin as well)…


With at least half a dozen strong recommendations for me to try these ensaimadas, and a whopping PHP100 price tag for a medium sized piece, I have to say that expectations were high. And the bottom line? Frankly, I thought these were close to HORRIBLE… Maybe it would be kinder for me to say I would never buy them again. Anyone who knows this blog knows I have a personal preference for an ensaimada with verve, something closer to a brioche with a bread like consistency and not a fluffy cakey sweet thing. I have the family recipe detailed here (intro) and here (recipe proper). You may even want to read about the “original” ensaimadas from Mallorca, here. And many folks have written in to say Marketmanila’s older style recipe works for them. But I totally understand that it won’t work for everyone; particularly those who like the light fluffy airy versions. So the bread of the Diamond ensaimada actually starts off with good prospects… it is more like a bread-like consistency than fluffy cake, but the one I tried was downright dry! And it goes downhill from there. They had no plain version, only ube and bacon. That would be like being unable to order a spaghetti pomodoro at an Italian restaurant, a BAD SIGN if you ask me. And the ube swirl in the ensaimada distracted from the main event, despite my liking ube (plus I might wager a small bet that the ube jam wasn’t made from scratch the hotel, most likely a commercial purchase with food coloring).


Worse, piled on top of the ensaimada was a TON of creamed butter that was then covered with an excessive amount of grated soft cheese of an unknown kind. It wasn’t queso de bola, it wasn’t velveeta, but it was somewhere in-between. And it looked like a bad smushed toupee with pomade, totally unappetizing, if you really want my blunt opinion. I took a big slice of this ensaimada and tasted it, and was so disappointed that I had Mrs. MM taste it as well. We never finished it. And I don’t think even the crew would eat it. Maybe I am being excessively critical, but this is not an ensaimada that deserves so much apparent attention, and at PHP100 a PIECE, it is absurdly overpriced… Frankly, it reminded me somewhat of a BIG version of the Bizu ensaimadas that I didn’t like either (they too had the excessive topping syndrome)… What is it with fancy pastry shops screwing up such an icon? Are they just overthinking it? And are consumers so bowled over by the make up? This is so similar to people my mother’s age that have light foundation that ends on their neck..which then goes seriously darker on the way South!


Finally, I also purchased a beautiful looking mini apple tart for PHP 150. With about 8 small slices of apple (maybe half an apple worth) and a sweet caramelized sugar syrup, the apples were pretty good, but the pastry underneath it all literally could double for some wet cardboard. Now perhaps this experience can be explained as it was on off-site sale, and the stuff tastes better at the hotel, but I wouldn’t sell any pastries if they didn’t travel well. The apple tart tatin couldn’t have cost more than PHP25-30 to make, and it was so NOT worth the PHP150 price… for that price I could almost buy enough apples for a small apple pie that would serve 8! I will even try to make a mini tart tatin at home in the weeks ahead to see if I am right about this…

P.S. The Diamond ensaimada is pictured above compared with a Medina ensaimada just for comparison. At the moment, besides our homemade ensaimadas, my current list of preference among commercial ensaimadas looks something like this:

1. Medina Ensaimadas
2. Waiting to be filled
3. Pastelleria Mallorca Ensaimadas
4. Waiting to be filled
5. Waiting to be filled
6. Cunanan Ensaimadas (with new-age reservations)
7. Mary Grace Ensaimadas (with new-age reservations)

Any other commercial ensaimadas you guys think I should try before the holidays??? :)


51 Responses

  1. Try the ensaymada at Gourmet’s in Silang Cavite, on the way to Tagaytay. It melts in the mouth. Hizon’s is one of my favorite ensaimada but it find it too expensive. For the commercial ones, my suki is Tinapayan Bakeshop in Dapitan St. Manila. They taste really good, and is very reasonably priced.

  2. Just like anyother popular food item, ensaimada means different things to different people. For those of us who remember good ensaimadas from the fifties and sixties (like the ones you come close to replicating with your recipe) all the later versions seem to be decendants suffering from very bad mutation. Cakey is not a quality you want to see in an enseimada and even worse, makers tend to achieve this effect by underbaking the dough, a thought hardly reassuring for keeping it down. To a lot of younger people though who never had the priviledge tasting excellently made ones, the dry cottony sponge topped or filled with over-rich fluff remains their archetype.

    What to do with inedible stale ensaimada ( if you do not mind the unscourable mess it will leave in the pan) slice and slow bake ‘em like biscotti.

  3. Hi MM,
    My family prefers the ensaimada from the Cunanans in Valle Verde, Pasig. There’s also a stall at the Saturday Salcedo Market called Something Different. They have pretty good versions too. I suggest that you try them! Something also has mango tarts and chicken empanada.

  4. What a pity. I thought it would be rather good since Carlos Celdran recommended it in his blog as one of Manila’s best kept secret snack. Oh well.

  5. Ay ensemada! Do they really still make them with Queso de Bola (Marca Pato please)? I can only look at them now because of diabetes. My blood sugar goes nuts when I touch this stuff. Thanks for bringing back memories, MM!

  6. I think I’ve mentioned this to you before, but anyway…

    My dad (who shares your ensaimada preference, though he also enjoys Mary Grace’s version) always says his favorite ensaimada is the Yulo-made ones that he used to buy from the Canlubang Golf Club many, many years ago. I’ve no idea is they’re still made, but maybe if you know a Yulo, you could ask. :-)

  7. That top photo with the semi-melted cheese do not look appetizing at all, just too much topping for an ensaimada for me.
    Growing up in Pampanga, I kinda miss the neighborhood bakery, were the ensaimadas are just simply brushed with butter and topped with sugar immediately after they were out of the oven. Too bad that bakery no longer exists, they also have the best taisan that I could remember. In highschool I remember being introduced to Goldilocks and Red Ribbon’s ensaimadas, but I find their versions way too fluffy and airy as most ensaimadas that I’ve tried since.

  8. MM, have you tried the ensaymada of “1950s Pandesal”, somewhat resemble the old-fashion ensaymadas without too much toppings. Originally from Marikina, they have a new branch in White Plains area near the Shell station.

  9. There has been lots of variations of ensaimadas nowadays, but I still prefer the old-fashioned ensaimadas which I can buy from one of the existing old panaderias in town, brown crust but very soft when it gets in my mouth, sprinkled with sugar and lotsa margarine on top. That I like!

  10. I prefer an ensaimada like the type MarketMan prefers as well..

    Although there might be some good notes on commercial ensaimadas, those doesn’t bring back good childhood merienda memories..

  11. Try the ensaimaidas of AMici, in DOn Bosco Makati (they also have a stall in waltermart makati). My family loves to melt chocolate and put it on top of the ensaimadas. at 60 for 6 pcs its a sure bargain for the taste.

  12. down the block from where i lived in san lorenzo village, makati (15 years ago) lived a pastry chef who sold filipino pastries. her house is at the corner of edades st. and my girlfriend and i would just ring the bell everytime we craved for some pastries (ensaimada, etc.) on our way home from school. i don’t know if she still makes the stuff but they were the best pastries i’ve had during my schooldays in manila.

  13. I saw the Diamond stand over the weekend with tons of people buying from them. I was wondering what all the fuss was about. I saw the ensaimadas but decided to hold off any purchase since i have bever heard a review or comment about them from someone I know. The cheese topping does not look appetizing at all. ANd I prefer my ensaimadas plain, tank you, no bacon and no ube (although I love them both seperately!)

    A few months ago I was in Spain and had the opportunity to try the Pastelleria Mallorca ensaimada which I thought was good, but overall I was underwhelmed. I guess I had set the wrong expectations of what the “original” ensaimada should be like. I think Apicio is right when he says its one of those food items that means different things to diffferent people and I do wish I had the opportunity to have tried the ones of the 50′ and 60’s. I really like the Medina version but find myself equally happy while enjoying the Cunanan variety as well!

  14. that’s a sloppy looking ensaimada.

    mm, in the third picture, on the right of the ensaimada, is that the tart tatin wrapped in plastic? whatever it is, looks sloppy, too.

    this reminds me that i haven’t tried your ensaimada recipe yet.

  15. So far, its Hizons ensaimada for me. I love it grilled and have it with super thick tsokolate and slivers of queso de bola on the side. YUMMY!!!

  16. MM, try Becky’s ensaimada: it’s reasonably priced, decently satisfying. Deserves to be 5th on your list, at least.

  17. I went to Ibiza and on the way back, have purchased a big box of the real Spanish ensaimada in the airport thinking it may be the best one, but I didn’t like it all! I definitely will choose Mulach’s than that in Ibiza…it tasted somewhat weird…for a whooping price of EUR25!

  18. MM,

    Totally unrelated question…Where do you buy your Valrhona/Callebaut chocolates locally?


    ps. People eat with their eyes. I won’t pay that amount, much less touch that with a ten-foot pole, for that ensaimada. *grimace*

  19. paula you can get Valrhona at Bacchus at shagrila Hotel Makati or at Cook’s Exchange stores in malls. There are also several bakeshop supplies stores detailed in a previous post in this blog called Baking Ingredients 101, look it up in the archives. The names of the stores are in the comments section of that post. rianne, yes, mallorcan ensaimada are different, with a cream filling to boot! I don’t know what it is, so many swear by Hizon’s but I have tasted them several times and wasn’t impressed. deebee, the other ensaimadas is wrapped in plastic wrap, yes it looks hideous too but when unwrapped, it is actually rather appetizing…

  20. Hi MM, I totally share your sentiments on the Manila Diamond ensaymadas! So many people were raving about it that I trekked all the way to Manila last year to get a taste… and was sooo disappointed! And just to share, recently friends were telling me I had to try the ensayamdas in Sinfully Circles in Makati Shangrila. I kinda had doubts when I heard their ensaymadas were also ube and bacon flavored, but I tried anyway. True enough, I wasn’t happy either :( Tasted like the ones in Diamond. Different strokes for different folks I guess. But I do think we like the same kind of ensaymada because my absolute favorite is the one made my mom from a family recipe handed down from my lola. They’re from Pampanga, so the ensaymada is the traditional kind- the bread itself is not fluffy but buttery and almost flaky that it melts in your mouth. It’s also topped with queso de bola, grated the traditional way and not powdered. It’s very rich no doubt about it, but worth every calorie. I tried making but gave up, its way too mabusisi so I leave the baking to my mom :) I would love to give you as a gift hehehe! It wouldn’t qualify as a commercial brand though, it’s strictly homemade and for family, friends and fellow foodies only ;-)

  21. “it wasn’t queso de bola, it wasn’t velveeta, but it was somewhere in-between. And it looked like a bad smushed toupee with pomade, totally unappetizing”

    i just finished a long day at work and this post just made me smile…. that cheese must be a synthetic one hehe. I still have yr recipe to try. I have done santos.. bread like with brioche taste… I have eaten the authentic ensaimada in palma too long way from these light fluffy ones they sell there.

    on my blog the recent research say the biggest hit is the ensaymada recipe!!!

  22. There’s a little bakery down at P.Burgos St.in Poblacion Makati (way pass the girly bars and heading towards Mandaluyong bridge) called Insular and yes, they still sell the 8- inches across Ensaymada which cost around P100.00+ and its your typical ” no frills simply sugar,butter and cheese” variety that tastes great with your tea and coffee. They sell also this tasty wheat pandesal which comes out fresh from the oven everyday between 1500-1530 and within the next hour, the supply just disappears from the stand. They also sell pita bread and pita bread chips which comes in two flavours that i sometimes use to sprinkle on my green salad for extra crunch. And the nice thing,its so reasonably priced. Check it out MM!

  23. Call me a traditionalist,but I prefer my ube the plain old halaya way. I can take ube ice cream just a little bit further,but when it gets into hopia,roll,piyaya and now ensaymada…man, its just too over the top for me.

  24. Blaise: Insular Bakery has been around since the 70’s and it is next to the 7-11 Convinience store branch along P. Burgos St. Am not certain if they sell ube cake but I did find some nice apple pies on display . This bakery is where I find my budget emergency desserts.

  25. Hi MM,

    I’m a regular reader of your blog. I was in Rockwell last weekend too and tried some pastries from the bake sale. I remembered your post when I saw the Diamond Hotel ensaymada.

    I refrained from buying it though because I too thought it wasn’t appetizing. My mom and I even had the impression that biting into it would be like biting into a ball of lard.

    An unrelated question, do you know where I can buy OK sauce? I have searched all the major supermarkets and have not found a single one selling it.

  26. When I cut my plain ensaimada a string-cheese like bread will greet me not the spongy cake type and I love the greasy one where it leaves a mark on the wrapping paper, my plate and palate.

  27. as a kid visiting my grandparents in violeta village in bulacan, I used to love Eurobake’s ensaymadas and their inipit too…yum!

  28. I like ensaimadas that you can buy sa tabi-tabing bakeries for P1/each. The ones with a spread of star margarine and sprinkles of sugar on top! hehe!

  29. my mom and i also tried the ensaimada. she really liked it whereas i only found it average. Different strokes for different folks talaga. But I did buy the Le Royal cake of theirs, surprisingly very good. the texture reminds me of royce nama choco.

  30. Cai, masarap din yun! I pop them back in the oven toaster and add dollops of butter and grated cheese and toast them till the sugar bubbles and kinda caramelizes.

    But my personal fave if I have the extra money and the energy to go to QC is the Pastelleria Mallorca ones. Yummy good!!!!

  31. Eewww!! What a terrible looking ensaymada! To think I have been planning a “sadya” trip to DH just to try those!

    Recently tried Lola P’s ensaymadas being sold in the native foods stands in the Greenhills tiangge (beside Michelle’s putong ube). Don’t know if you’ll like the texture though, MM, because it’s more creamy than bread-y, the way you like your ensaymadas. But at about P27 a piece for a tasty medium sized bun, I’m sure it’s way better than DH’s. Go there early because I find only 10-12 pcs are left by late afternoon.

    Love Jammie’s mini-ensaymadas too… so commercial I know but oh so creamy!!!

  32. i like muhlach megamelt, hizon’s & mary grace ensaimadas. i have yet to try medina’s,mallorca’s and cunanan’s

  33. try MUST BE MOMS (or something like that), comes in a pink box. they have a stall/table in magallanes (right outside rustan’s fresh supermarket/starbucks). i remember seeing them in a mall, too, but i’m not sure which one– probably Mall of Asia.

    i’m not really an ensaymada eater but my parents are. i grab this for them when i need to get them something that’s not yet in cebu ;-) they like this one (they like cunanan’s also). i’ve tried their mini-ensaymadas and liked it. :-)

  34. Try Jammie’s Ensaymada!!!! I don’t want to be bias but theirs is a distinct and ohhh sooo creamy ensaimada. I await your verdict… :)

  35. i actually bought one of the diamond ensaymadas from the hotel to see what the fuss what about. You know what? I actually liked it. Different strokes for different folks.

  36. By Carlos Celdran


    7. Best Secret Snack – The Diamond Hotel Ensaymada
    Although the hotel itself has been looking kinda faded of late, it can still draw in a crowd. Not a bad feat considering that it’s a 15-year-old hotel that has not undergone any major refurbishing at all. It must be the ensaymadas at the Kohikan Cafe on the lobby level that keep everyone coming back for more. Generous in size, perfectly fluffy, smeared with ube and dripping with butter, it is perhaps the most insane ensaymada served this side of the South China Sea. So sinful is this pastry I feel almost guilty telling you about it. Have it toasted till the top is brown and take it with a cup of Kohikan coffee just to push the experience over the edge.

  37. Mei Ling, Janice, et al. I am not surprised at all that many others like the Diamond Hotel ensaimada, after all its reputation did preceed itself and hence my buying it when I finally got a chance. However, I personally did not like it though I can understand why others might… I believe there are generally two schools of ensaimada lovers, those who prefer an older style brioche type ensaimada and those who prefer a lighter, cakier version. Usually, the folks who ate ensaimadas predominantly in the past 15-20 years prefer the latter, while those who got a taste of the 1950’s and 1960’s ensaimadas prefer the former… I have several other posts on ensaimada, including my sister’s version with recipe which I prefer above all commercially available versions…its in the archives…

  38. thanku for d recipe…im gna gv dis a shot..ihp it wl turn out lyk d hizon and d cunanan type of ensaimada…i tried lots of recipe but none of them turnd out to be like d hizon type…wel similar and way better dan d muhlach but way too different fr hizon and cunanan..

    im wondering…y do some recipe for ensaimada call for mashd potato…and some recipe have a combination of all purpose,cake flour and also potato flour on it? tho itried d apf and cake flour combination and i got d commercializ ensaimada for d result…

    wish me luck..ihp dis tym il get d hizon type na because my father loves it and he is asking me to bake somthing like it several times na..thaks

  39. i’m not into paying a lot for ensaimadas. our family loves the ones from AMICI on arnaiz st. A box of 6 pieces would run you P70.

  40. maybe you does’nt have a good taste at all. I love diamond hotel’s ensaimada. It really taste good! MAybe your a cheap one who wants cheaper ensaimadas.. am i right?

  41. what? the ensaimada of manila diamond hotel? I remember the year 2001 when I was a billeted there,it cost only 35 pesos but now it costs 100 pesos. Gosh….I love diamond esaimada it taste good….REALLY….



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