Chef Edward Bugia has been serving hungry Metro Manila folk for years. There's his modern Filipino food through Pino, vegan and vegetarian fare at Pipino, and build your own burgers in BRGR: The Brgr Project. He also has concepts at the food courts for quick budget eats: Brgy. Bagnet and Bulalo Boy. Want some juice, smoothies, and healthy eats? Chef Ed's got Daily Squeeze for that. The chef's creativity with food seems limitless. Like a mad scientist let loose inside a lab, he whips up crazy-but-good stuff in the kitchen--sisig carbonara, kare-kareng bagnet, juicy grilled watermelon steak with mushrooms, chocolate tempura, portobello inasal, to name a few.
Ed, The Pie Maker
Over the weekend, he opened a brand new concept--a pie shop--just beside his other restaurants in Teachers Village, Pino and Pipino. π Breakfast & Pies is his brand new baby, and it's been a long time coming. Along with his partners, he has been toying around the idea of opening up a place that sells a wide selection of pies as early as last year. "At first, it was just dessert pies," he shares. Fast forward to a few months ago, the laundry shop beside Pino in Malingap Street was about to close shop. This got the ball rolling. "We figured, you know what? Let's just do it. We weren't so confident about desserts and pies, so it just came to us: breakfast."
π Breakfast & Pies: now open in Quezon City
Breakfast and pies: two things that you can devour any time of the day, in both sweet and savory varieties. Sounds like a marvelous combination to me.
R&D for π Breakfast & Pies took a long time. "When you do baking, it's hard. When you screw up, you start all over again," the chef says, "It took us months. I'd bring the pies to parties, have some people taste them, get feedback." The breads were simpler, though. He mentions that it took them about a week to make and finalize. "We have baguettes, we're going to add some foccacia this week. We have some really good Spanish bread. We figured it's a bake shop also, we have the ingredients already," he says.
"Old-school chic" is how Chef Ed Bugia describes the look and feel of π
They retained the flooring of the laundromat to give the place more character
Carbs by the counter: a look at their bread selection
Not many know that Chef Ed has a passion for baking and pastry. "I took further studies in baking. I was teaching at Global Culinary & Hospitality Academy, and I already had the basic background. My bosses--Chef Rob Pengson--said to enliven my pastry background more. So I went through a rigorous training with Chef Sunshine, his wife," he shares.
Slices of Sweetness: Meet the Magnificent Seven
On opening day, Chef Ed had us taste seven of his dessert pies. "Sorry it's melting fast," he apologizes, "we just made them today." Day one and already their pies were selling like hotcakes, so we were excited to have a taste of everything. The pies at π Breakfast & Pies have different kinds of crusts with varying degrees of flake, crisp, and crunch--traditional lattice-style, crushed graham, crushed oreos, to name a few. That day, we tried seven flavors, but they plan to add more soon, along with savory flavors.
Eye spy a lot of pie: (from L-R clockwise) Choco Raspberry, Apple Gruyere, Crack Pie, Smores, Banana Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, Butterfinger
Among his current pie selection, it's the Butterfinger Pie (P795, whole) that's getting popular. They use homemade peanut butter for it and not the popular candy bar, but someone raved that it tastes just like it (I agree!). Hence, its name. The slice we had didn't even have a minute on the plate as my friend and I gobbled it up the moment it was served. When asked what he liked the most, Ed says his favorite is the Banana Cream Pie (P675, whole). "Everyone's doing a banoffee, so I decided to serve a Banana Cream Pie." This, too, had little chance of surviving the attack of our forks. The pureness of the lakatan's flavors shine through, and the sweetness envelops your mouth like a happy hug from teddy bears or koalas or pandas (take your most comfortable and cuddly pick).
Banana Cream Pie
In between pie sampling, I sip on some Cereal Milk served chilled in a bottle. A whiff of the beverage upon opening the bottle immediately reminds one of childhood breakfast. We were also given a Pork Floss Pastel (P45/piece), their version of the yema-filled buns, this time around it's topped with pork floss and its filling less cloyingly sweet.
Pork Floss Pastel
"Try our cookies too, let me know if you like them," Chef Ed says, and we find ourselves nibbling on a Lace Cookie with Dark Chocolate (P35) and a Compost Cookie (P45). The first is slightly crisp, then goes sticky-sweet, the kind of chewy that sticks to your molars. The second is an 'everything-but-the-kitchen-sink' cookie loaded with fun things like potato chips, pretzels, and chocolate. The result is a chewy and rich treat bite upon bite. The chef comes back, this time placing this small tin container on our table. Inside was something similar looking to creme brulee, or some kind of panna cotta with bacon bits. "Just try it," Chef Ed urged, and I get myself a spoonful. It was Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding (P85) with bacon crème anglaise--it was interestingly sweet, with some bite to it care of the banana bread.
Nibble on these: Compost Cookie and Lace Cookie
Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with bacon crème anglaise
Now, back to the business of pies. Apple Gruyère (P525, whole) is their take on the classic American apple pie, using slices of green and red apples, with some creamy yellow cheese to add a little sharpness. More bold and daring is their Choco Raspberry Pie, with a deeper, sweeter flavor profile, presented with an oreo crust. Full bodied and dark, this is the pie for serious chocoholics and berry lovers (a gold mine if you're both). The S'mores Pie (P985, whole) of π Breakfast & Pies features homemade marshmallows, crushed pistachio toppings, and a graham crust. For a gooey sweet treat, have this when freshly baked, or have them heat it up a bit so that your tastebuds can dance around in melted marshmallow bliss. If you prefer your pies fruity and tarty, then the Key Lime Pie (P995, whole) aims to woo your palate with that pucker-up combination of sweet and sour.
For those addicted to that sugar rush, get the Crack Pie
And pie-nally, the Crack Pie, π's ode to the highly addicting dessert pie of Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. I've never tried the real deal, but I've partaken my fair share of a local version by a home baker--indeed addicting, that one might suspect some illegal ingredients included in it. So how does Chef Ed's version compare? It is excellent. Less sweet than what I have tried before, meaning more servings and forkfuls for your own belly to appreciate. The sweet filling, its myriad of textures from pasty to crunchy, the beautiful marriage of sugar and butter--hands down make it my favorite dessert pie at the restaurant. We had so much love for it that we had to order an additional slice. We might have thrown some expletives here and there after every bite, too. Sorry (but not quite sorry).
Breakfast of Champions
How did Chef Ed conceptualize what breakfast fare to include in a pie shop? "Usually, I wake up after lunch," he laughs, talking about his busy working schedule. Isn't it when you're the last to wake up, you also are left with remnants of everyone's breakfast food at home? The leftover food, he says, is what inspired him to mix and match different things in the kitchen to come up with mouthwatering items to include on π's menu. "Ay, Spam nalang yung natira. And kimchi. Pwede na 'yan!" he says, laughing. He also adds that most of the items in his new restaurant are homemade, created from scratch. "It's really a good movement now that people are doing it, I appreciate it," Chef Ed says about the conscious effort of restaurants to serve hand crafted, made-from-scratch food. "The things that I do not know how to do--like cheese--we have suppliers that I know personally, that do these things well."
Our palate was craving for something savory after our piefest. "That one's nice to photograph," the chef says, referring to their Huevos Rancheros (P365) as I
contemplate on whether we'd order that or their spin on the classic BLT, the BLTE (P255 - bacon, lettuce, tomato, egg, sriracha mayo, english muffin, served with spiced shoestring potatoes). It turns out that not only does the Huevos Rancheros look mouthwateringly photogenic, it was also the perfect dish to cleanse our sugarloaded tastebuds. The Mexican breakfast fare, served on a cast iron pan, is served with a slice of homemade brioche. It was a delight to mix everything in with a fork and spoon, a fiesta of flavors with the zucchini, eggplant, sweet potato, beans, tomato, bacon, chicken skin, bell peppers, cheddar cheese, kesong puti, cilantro, eggs, and sausages.
Kitayama wagyu beef sirloin tapa Breakfast Special
Aside from pancakes, waffles, pastries, and of course their pie, the new restaurant also offers Breakfast Specials, tummy-filling rice dishes that mix-and-match flavors and textures in quite unusual ways, but equate to a delicious experience. Craving for tapsilog? Try their version. It features Kitayama wagyu beef sirloin tapa (P185), garlic kimchi fried rice, six minute egg, and atchara. "It's how the eggs are cooked for ramen," chef explains, as we tear away the hardboiled egg white to reveal the gooey yolk center. The beef slices are slightly sweet, pairing well with the mildly spiced kimchi rice. For those looking for the sourness of vinegar, some homemade atchara is served on the side as well. "Our kimchi is also made from scratch," chef shares. It's commendable how they put effort into crafting these dishes, breads and pies from scratch as much as possible. Even much better is the fact that you can taste the difference between an 'instant' and a homemade creation.
I sight another breakfast special on their menu that piqued my interest: Caramelized spam (P275). "I love doing this at home, it's like spam tocino!" I exclaimed to Chef Ed. "I cook it better," he teased. Let's see.
Caramelized spam Breakfast Special
A serving has garlic fried rice topped with a dollop of their kimchi, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and at its center, the six minute egg with pesto and scallions. And the luncheon meat? It was served in chunks, cubed and fried, with just enough loving from sugar to complement the kimchi spice. As I spear more spam and chuck them into my mouth, I admit defeat to the chef. "Fine. You're right, you cook spam better," and we both laugh.
Now, if your hunger translates into more savage (think caveman-craving or intense meat-loving) levels, fret not. At π, you don't need to order two rice dishes, or waffles, or pancakes. Well, of course you can, you hungry human. But with their supersized Pi Platter (P675), you also have everything awesome about breakfast served to you on a huge round plate. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into when we ordered the platter, it just looked good on paper for a bacon and sausage lover such as myself. When the platter landed on our table, our jaws literally dropped.
Breakfast in bulk: meet the Pi Platter
"Whoah, no way..." I found myself uttering, eerily close to how Bill and Ted would say it. And you know what? It is an excellent adventure for our appetite: two slices of thick bacon ("from a secret supplier" says the chef), two organic eggs served sunny side up, chunks of fatty, glorious beef belly corned beef (also homemade), two links of (yes, homemade) hungarian sausage, a pair of pancakes (made from scratch!) topped with a pat of butter (with orange peel honey on the side), a handful of thickly sliced bagnet fat fried fries (seriously good) which are super excellent when dipped on the (yet again homemade) sriracha mayo. At the center, a portion of wilted spinach with mushrooms ("in case you want to be healthy," the chef jokes).
Supersize your breakfast, or share with a hungry friend
Their homemade pancakes have more bite to them
I immediately posted a photo on Facebook just to share the sheer awesomeness that is its quantity. "I think if I ever get convicted of a crime that warrants the death sentence, I will request this as my final meal," a friend commented. This platter is breakfast in bulk. Just stop calorie and carb counting for a short while, and dig in. Dig in deep.
While resting our bellies from the fantastic pies and breakfast chow, we sight a pretty waffle being served at the chef's table. It's their Mixed Berries (P165) waffles with a surprising add-on: crunchy pieces of deep-fried chicken skin. "It's our version of chicken and waffles," Chef Ed says, as I ogle at the beautiful waffle, its crevices filled with a drizzling of cream, topped with slices of strawberry and a clump of glistening blueberries. I wished I had an extra stomach for it, but I was filled to the brim with breakfast and pies already. I guess I'll just have to visit very soon for the waffles.
Mixed Berries Waffle
What's next for π? "I'm sure I missed a lot of stuff; I don't even have an oatmeal yet," the chef shares. π is a newborn, and the restaurant's products and operations are going through the natural ebb and flow of birthing pains. They constantly ask for feedback among new customers, friends and relatives. That evening, they did further R&D, and we suggested to add more beans to the mix of Huevos Rancheros (to which the chef agrees on). "For people trying to be healthy, we'll serve a fresh fruit platter. Some meat pies, biscuits and gravy. We serve Malongo coffee, and we have tea. We'll add more cookies--oh, we have really good brownies!" Ed exclaims, then proceeds to get some for us. It's still baking, we found out, and the pies are already running low before closing time. "Next time, come back for them," he says. With all his plans to add more pastries and savory things into the restaurant's menu, I sure will come back--not just for a small slice of π, mind you--but a long lineup of all the tasty things that my appetite will allow!
π Breakfast & Pies is open daily from 7:00am to 10:00pm, and is located beside Pino and Pipino at 39 Malingap Street in Teachers Village, Quezon City. The restaurant is just two days in operation. Please be patient with this little pie shop (opening menu is still subject to change) as they are still formulating for that perfect equation of pies and breakfast fare to serve you.