In the local setting, discussions on bread lead us to think of our everyday Pinoy staples such as pan de sal and “tasty” bread. Though Filipinos welcome bread on the table at various mealtimes of the day, we will almost always turn to our favourite source of carbohydrates: rice. For some, bread does not provide the same level of contentment that rice does—which is quite understandable. We Pinoys have been born and bred to see the value of rice, after all. This does not mean that there is little room for bread in our hearts. Café Shibuya, a new dining spot at the U.P. Town Center, has spent over a year tirelessly conceptualising and revising the recipe for their special Shibuya toast. Now that they are up and running, local diners now have access to what I have dubbed as the perfect, perfect bread.
Now open at U.P. Town Center, Katipunan
“The concept had been in the works since around January of this year,” shares Cathy Lao. “We got this idea from our travels around Asia, as we were able to find out how popular things like honey bread were. This concept came from Japan, but it proliferated quickly. I felt that this was an opportunity for us since no other café here in the Philippines really focuses on Shibuya toast.”
Sisters Cathy and Cheryl Lao Lee have always been adamant about bringing out the best quality bread. According to Cathy, they do not just bank on their toppings; the bread itself has to have that wow-factor that makes partaking of Shibuya toast truly worth it. “Our bread should be really fantastic,” she adds. “That has always been the key thing.”
Café Shibuya’s trademark toast is truly a wondrous concoction. It is quite big with a thickness of about four slices of ordinary white bread stacked high. Cheryl says that one of the ways to know that the bread has been prepared perfectly is to pull it apart and see if the strands are long and malleable. “It took us a long time to perfect it,” she shares. “Even up until yesterday, we were still working on it. It’s a continuous process.”
To start, we sampled a couple of Café Shibuya’s specialty drinks. The matcha fiend in me could not resist ordering the Chocolate Green Tea Frappe (P165). They also have a Ghirardelli Chocolate drink line, which is what most people are curious about. Other recommended drinks are the Amaretto Latte and the Caramel Latte, which are both available at P145.
Chocolate Green Tea Frappe
Caramel Macchiato (P145)
For the Shibuya toast, we decided on having two dessert toasts and one savoury. The Cheddar Cheese (Baby – P175, Regular – P225) serves as their classic flavour. The taste and the texture—though Shibuya toast is heavier—is reminiscent of ensaymada, which is definitely a plus for all cheese lovers. This is buttery all over the inside and has a comforting salty-sweet flavour that I personally like. It is definitely a must-try for all Café Shibuya first timers.
Cheddar Cheese Dessert Toast (baby size)
The Nutella (Baby – P195, Regular – P245) flavoured toast, just as it says on the menu, needs no introduction. I have never quite met anyone who has turned away from Nutella before, so this is surely a safe but nonetheless excellent choice. It is a bit lighter than the cheddar cheese as the Nutella is slathered on top, keeping the bread a little more on the toasty side. We ordered this one in regular to be able to see the disparity between the two sizes. The baby size is stacked a bit higher, while the regular size is wider in diameter.
Nutella Dessert Toast (regular size)
Their savoury toasts came as a pleasant surprise to me. After sampling two wonderful dessert toasts, I had it in the back of my mind that Café Shibuya’s bread was, well, perfect for dessert. Little did I know that it would translate just as well into a savoury dish and that it would even turn out as my favourite dish of the night. The Tonkatsu with Mango Mayo (P235) is just the most delightful bit of work I’ve seen and tasted in awhile. Breaded pork cutlet is drizzled with mango mayo sauce and garnished with relish, making for something unique and refreshing. I love how the ingredients came together with the bread still taking the bill for lead actor while the toppings held steadfast in their supporting roles. We even did Cheryl’s pull-apart test on its bread, and were delighted to see how it looked.
Tonkatsu with Mango Mayo Savory Toast (all savory toasts are served with
potato chips and special mayo sauce)
Rounding out the plethora of bread was the Mentaiko (P265). This Japanese-Italian fusion is a personal favourite of the sisters; I am also personally taken by dishes such as these because I have had cod roe-based pasta before and enjoyed it immensely. This is a light but intensely flavoured pasta as the roe often comes out quite strong in many incarnations of this dish.
Café Shibuya’s chalkboard interiors and unique menu items are terrific additions to the Quezon City area. Students and regular diners alike will find that there is much enjoyment to be had at this homegrown Filipino-owned restaurant inspired by the Japanese culture. “Everything is ours ground up,” Cheryl says proudly. “Of course, we took inspiration from other restaurants. However, everything from the menu items to the interiors is really ours. We took heavy inspiration from the Japanese, but we also incorporated things that cater to the Filipino taste. The things that we have are things that we love, so we’re very proud of what we have to offer.”