Chef Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto who is known for her famous decadent chocolate cake and other desserts at Classic Confections and almost all Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branches has opened a new restaurant, Nono's, serving comfort food that's simple and heartwarming. Named after her father, the aesthetics is very much reminiscent to the old houses back in the days. The Tiffany blue colored front door takes inspiration from the homes in Palm Springs giving it a sleek look. I even told Chef Baba that the whole restaurant gives off a "La La Land" vibe.
Inspired by a mid-century modern home in Palm Springs, upon entrance, you'll notice that the restaurant is divided into three sections – kitchen, lounge and dining. The kitchen is where they freshly bake their breads and where the magic happens; the lounge which is a lanai type where hosts usually receive their guests; and the dining area where meals and stories are shared.
The whole menu concept started as comfort food but it suddenly became a journey to Chef Baba's childhood. For starters, as a child, they've always had cheese sticks at home that's why the Fried Truffle Cheese Wontons (P155) needed to be part of the menu. It is a serving of fried wontons stuffed with mozzarella and cheddar cheese, drizzled with honey and truffle oil.
If you want something fresh, order the Oriental Shrimp Salad (P375) which is Chef Baba's version of the Hot Prawn Salad that's typically served at Chinese restaurants. At Nono's, it has lightly battered fried shrimp on a bed of julienned red and green cabbage, romaine lettuce and crispy noodles tossed in a refreshing honey lemon dressing. Having studied culinary in San Francisco, she just couldn't leave out chowder which the city is known for. The Farmers Corn Chowder Soup (P225) is a Filipino version of clam chowder which has fresh Japanese corn chowder mixed with potato chunks and quail eggs served with sourdough bread which are freshly-baked every day.
There's also the Mac n' Cheese (P395) which is a staple in every home while growing up. Her version includes simple cheese – gruyere, sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese – as to not be overwhelmed in one bite. They also use shell pasta so you can scoop up the generous amount of sauce it has. It's rich, creamy and has a cheesy kick that reminds you of after-school merienda.
Something that reminds her so much of her lolo is the Pepito Steak Sliders (P325) which they eat together all the time. Chef Baba elevates it a little bit and uses USDA top blade steak that's perfectly cooked sandiwched between warm and fresh pandesal with fries on the side. Also named after her father, Nono's Homestyle Fried Chicken (P325/1 chicken; P565/2 chicken) is also a can't-miss. It took them over twenty tries before perfecting the one they've put on the menu. Boneless chicken is dipped in a light batter with all kinds of spices they could find in their pantry. It is served with dinner rolls that's baked in house, corn on the cob and a choice of fries or rice.
Another star of our spread is the Roasted Beef Belly (P495) that's been slow-cooked overnight. Chef Baba tells us she's a fan of slow-cooked meals since there's so much love and patience that go into it. It has three thick slices of fork-tender slow roasted USDA beef belly drizled with balsamic glaze served with horseradish cream and mashed potatoes that are the like the ones you make at home.
Any meal that's hearty deserves an even sweeter finish. Besides its serving of great comfort food, Nono's also houses a wide variety of cakes and pastries from Classic Confections and that includes Chef Baba's well-acclaimed Nono's Chocolate Oblivion. One bite of the moist chocolate cake filled whipped chocolated cream dusted with cocoa powder instantly brought me bliss.
You'll also find classic desserts such as Red Velvet Cake, Meline's Chocolate Cake and Honey Crunch Cake. If you prefer something fruity, there's also the Lemon Torte, Banana Cream Pie, Calamnsi Bars and Sylvia's Strawberry Shortcake.
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Nono's is located at the 1st Level, U.P. Town Center Katipunan Ave., Diliman, Quezon City. They're open from 11am to 9pm (Monday-Thursday) and 10am to 10pm (Friday-Sunday). Like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram for exclusive updates.