Extremely bright and vibrant, Cafe Noriter
is one of the most magical places I've ever found in Taft. This unique ambience is what makes it extremely popular with the students around the area. It’s tucked inside one of the buildings in the corner of Estrada Street and Taft. There is a flight of stairs beside Tapa King that will lead you up to the 2nd floor. When my friends first took me here I immediately knew I found wonderland!
You can easily see through the glass doors that this isn't any ordinary cafe. The name 'Noriter' is a Korean word that means playground. The whole aesthetic of the cafe follows this theme and they redecorate annually. The concept was imported by local entrepreneurs into the Philippines from Korea. What most people might not know is that it first started out in Dumaguete City, where it is an internet hub and cafe. Taft is their second branch. It has a more whimsical feel than places like Starbucks or Coffee Bean. The moment you step foot inside you'll be amazed, because it feels like something that popped out of a children's story book.
When you first enter the store you’ll immediately notice the cheerful blue and yellow counter. Noriter's menu of coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, and pastries is written down with colorful chalk on the blackboard next to little photo print outs of the food. Their most recommended items are in frames on top of the cake cooler.
For first timers, any drink order makes you eligible to sign up for a Noriter Coupon
. They'll stamp the card for you with every drink purchase, and when you get seven stamps, you get a free drink.
They have creative eating spaces, which I think are among the biggest highlights of the establishment. What other establishment has treehouse-like spaces where you can lounge and eat? These spaces are in high demand, and people always snap up these seats first so they can lounge with their friends.
One corner of the cafe is occupied by these two tier wooden platforms. There are four spaces for people to choose from. Two of them are on the upper levels, one of them is a sort of open pen space, and the last one is actually like a small half-enclosed room. If you're going to sit in the upper levels then you can leave your shoes by the stairs. These spaces can hold 5-8 people (though of course you can try fitting more people). These spaces can also be reserved for special occasions.
On the other side of the cafe, there are raised wooden platforms where the windows overlook the street. They really help make you comfortable in the cafe. It makes you feel like you're in your own room, and you're pretty much free to sit however you please without worrying about looking sloppy.
If you don't get to avail of any of these fun spaces during your visits, they have a lot of other tables which are equally interesting. None of the tables have the same designs and each table has their own loving artistic handmade touch.
If all else is taken, then you can opt to seat at the counter styled corner. They have a giant blackboard featuring their best foods so you and your friends can easily pick from here too. What I find cool about its that its laid out like a travel map of the world.
Though as you might notice the walls are riddled with scribbles of all varieties, vandalism prohibited in the cafe. There used to be a time when it was allowed but not anymore . If you want to bring out your creative side, they'll let you do it on their cups instead. This is one of the things I love about Noriter. They encourage their customers have a part with their interior design. And being an artist myself I love to doodle in cafes.
Beside the door is a counter just filled with cups. You can find an stack of empty cups there or you can kindly ask the people at the counter. They even provide you art materials like markers and pens so you can doodle on them any time you want.
After finishing your masterpiece, you can leave it in their giant stack that they use to decorate their space. They either display them around the cafe in shelves, hanging on strings, or even creative installation pieces like robots. Or if you're lucky, you can have your work featured in their individual cup cubbyhole space!
Here are some of the examples of the featured creative cup work on the cubby holes. There were a lot to see! You get to find a lot of different art styles in here too.
I saved the best for last. I'm sure you've been wanting to hear about what the food is like, and I can guarantee you that it's as good as it looks! Their menu extends from the usual cafe blend and carries over to sandwiches and other pastries.
A lot of the other items on the menu look appetizing but I'm featuring some popular favorites. Some of their best sellers include Noriter Halo Halo (P240 - Small, P430 - Big)
, Kiwi Smoothie (P130)
, Noriter Sandwich
and Noriter Waffles
. These were all highly recommended by the cafe.
The price range of Noriter is similar to that of most popular cafes. If you look at the prices of some food on the menu, you might find the prices a bit steep. But a good number of the food items can be shared. The most expensive of which is their Halo Halo! The largest is a big bowl good for 4-5 persons. They also have a lighter size that's good for 2 persons.
You can immediately tell this isn't your average halo halo. It's made of popular summer fruits such with a special serving of Sweet Red Adzuki Beans, all this topped off with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream and Chocolate Sauce. We couldn't wait to dig into this and mix it up to taste. This cool colorful dessert packs a sweet and sour punch to your tastebuds. Extremely refreshing on a hot day!
Noriter Halo Halo
Next on the featured list of foods, we have their Kiwi Smoothie! I don't think Kiwi smoothies are a regular offer at most other places. It's a smooth blend of Kiwi and milk, topped with whip cream and Kiwi Syrup. A sweet drink with a slightly tangy zing would leave you wanting more if not quench your thirst.
The third food feature is my new personal favorite, the Noriter Honey Bread (P140)
. I tried it out as one of my friend's recommendations. You can see by the space it takes up on the tray. This is quite large for your average toast. You could share it with a friend, or you could have it all to yourself if you're feeling greedy with your sweet tooth.
Noriter Honey Bread
It's toasted bread glazed with honey and topped off with whipped cream some nuts, sprinkled with cinnamon powder, and drizzled with more sauce for presentation. It reminds me of a bread house because of its shape. As for its taste, you might think its sweetness overload but it's a delightful balance of flavors. I think it would best go with coffee for some wholesome cafe lounging.
All in all, Noriter is one of my absolutely favorite places in Taft. As an artist I find the ambience of the place is extremely inspiring and relaxing. It's also a great place to hangout with friends or sprawl around and do your schoolwork. I could well away an entire day inside if I had a chance. This place definitely delivers a different kind of dining experience.