Since I started praying for our own house, I have been eyeing on industrial, rustic, farmhouse, country designs and stuff. I can browse Pinterest the whole day and save a gazillion pins. Buku-Buku Kafe’s interiors — even the little stuff that they have — are exactly some of the things that I have been wanting to have.
When Jess, one of the owners of Buku-Buku Kafe, invited me to talk about their newly opened resto in the South, I didn’t think that I would fall in love with their café. My younger daughter and I met with Jess last December 1 pa and I told her that since she is also inviting me to their grand opening, which was happening the following week, I’d publish my post about them after their event. So I feel soooo bad that the year is about to end and I am posting my article just now. Jeeez!! I can’t believe I didn’t have time to share how awesome their resto looks and how I looooove every corner of it.
So, anyway, yea… my daughter and I met with Jess and she told us all about how their cafe started and why they have their second branch. Buku-Buku Kafe is owned by Lyn Santiago, together with her children Jess and Nico. Lyn is responsible for the very homey look and feel of the restaurant, while Jess and Nico handle all marketing campaigns. Jess is a writer and is a big fan of books. If you’re wondering where they got their name from and why cafe is spelled with a ‘K’… well, Buku, in Bahasa Malaysia, means book and books are a big part of their interior, plus they use a lot of books and magazines as their place mats and coasters… hence, Buku-Buku… many many books! And if you’re also thinking where the ‘K’ in kafe came from… according to Jess, in Malaysia, cafe is spelled with a K. 🙂 ‘Their name reflects the literature and art inside their cafe and the Southeast Asian flavors that influence Buku-Buku’s menu today.’ Jess explained that the reason they opened their branch in SM Southmall is that they wanted to share their books, their travel experiences through the food that they serve, and their passion for supporting local bands and artists with the people that they grew up with.
Aside from a new go-to dining spot that offers palatable desserts and flavorful coffee, Buku-Buku Kafe is a lot of things — a venue for new and young indie musicians to showcase their talents without having to spend on promotions, a place for local artists, photographers, and writers to exhibit their artworks, paintings, photographs, ‘komiks’, and other artistic creations like sling bags, stickers, magnets, and many more, a cool space for those who love books — they have free books that customers can read and they also have books for sale, and a really cozy dining area you’d love and enjoy hanging out in. They have delightfully tasty dishes…. meals that are great for heavy eaters but also large enough for sharing with families and friends. One can go there, order their Lychee Mint tea and Flat Top S’mores brownies, and work or study for hours… they have free WIFI, good air-conditioning, and comfy chairs.
I don’t really have much to say, so I’ll let my pix speak for me. I hope my shots will encourage you to head to the South and drop by Buku-Buku Kafe… to taste and to see is to believe! 🙂 These photos are from both my meeting with Jess and from their grand opening.
Their dining area… I think this would make a beautiful one bedroom apartment. 🙂
Their food… their menu is a mixture of various Asian cuisines and I like how they mix ingredients and flavors from different countries to come up with their own dishes.
My daughter and I can eat about 5 [for each of us] of this gooooooooeeeeeeyyyyy Flat Top S’mores Brownies! It tastes heavenly and is now at the top of my list of comfort food. 🙂
Their bands and artists… ‘Many of the books and komiks you see in Buku-Buku Kafe are independently published and are hard to find in mainstream bookstores! Jess and Nico find them in different spots in Metro Manila, meeting with each artist in person to understand the heart behind the art.’
If you want to know more about Buku-Buku Kafe’s humble beginnings and best selling dishes, check out their press release below…
ART-INSPIRED KAFE OPENS SECOND BRANCH IN SM SOUTHMALL
Manila, Philippines—It’s been over a year since Buku-Buku Kafe’s flagship restaurant at The District in Imus, Cavite opened its doors to the public. The upstart yet promising Kafe survived what seemed like an eternity of finding its identity. Just like any thriving brand, Buku-Buku Kafe went through a lot of transitions and experiments especially when it comes to the food they serve. But one thing remained consistent throughout the whole process—creativity. Creativity has always been the brand’s core value and it became more apparent when they started offering unique dishes such as their famed Romi Lamen, a hybrid of a Batangas lomi and ramen. As odd as it may sound, Romi Lamen became one of their best-selling dishes and synonymous to Buku-Buku Kafe. True to its promise of bringing together young creative minds down south, Buku-Buku Kafe partnered with indie artists and musicians who breathed life to the Kafe’s laid back weekends. Word got around quickly and the quaint Kafe became an instant hit to the Southerners. Finally, something out of the ordinary emerged. A multi-hyphenated place that serves as a reading space, a coffee shop, and a full-range dining hub. More importantly, it’s a creative space that challenges the norm.
Fast-forward to the present, Buku-Buku Kafe has recently opened its second branch with a funkier interior in the newly renovated wing of SM Southmall, Las Piñas. Boasting an industrial chic look, the Las Piñas branch promises a visual feast. At 123 sqm in total space, every corner has been detailed and structured with a creative touch to make the whole place Instagram-worthy. The wooden tables and light fixtures with floating books were retained as these are some of the signature elements of the restaurant. In addition, the huge wall mural and framed black and white vintage photos hanging in the staircase wall definitely catch the attention of any diner.
“The second branch was designed to appeal to both the culinary and visual arts. With wonderfully simple and rather eclectic furnishings which match the industrial look, the focus is not just on the food but the total experience. We want to inspire human emotions for sure,” said Nicholas Santiago, manager and partner of Buku-Buku Kafe.
THE TOTALLY INSANE YET FIVE MUST-TRY DISHES
The south is without a doubt a culinary gem, a melting pot best reflected in the growing food industry. If you think you’ve tried and seen everything in the South, well, think again! Take a look at these top five most insane dishes from Buku-Buku Kafe which will give you a good run for your buck.
1. ISAW FRIES
The local street food snack boiled and seasoned with spices and herbs, deep fried to a crisp, and flavored with powdered cheese and sour cream tops the list. This dish may look strange but it’s a surprisingly good starter especially paired with a classic sinamak.
2. TARA! GOTO!
A twist on the on the classic Pinoy lugaw recipe – made with brown rice and crispy, breaded ox tripe.
3. GENERAL GORENG
The American-Chinese chicken dish with sweet & spicy sauce served with the traditional Malaysian nasi goreng rice. Served with an assortment of sides from broccoli, baby radish, and candied dilis.
4. LAMB LAKSA
A Western twist on the popular Singaporean noodle & soup dish, this laksa is flavored with the rich taste of lamb broth.
5. ASIAN FRIED CHICKEN ADOBO
Hawker-style Chinese chicken catered to the Philippine palette. Served with yang-chow fried rice, steam garlic bok choy, and roast chicken liver sauce.
Taking the center-stage at the launch of Buku-Buku Kafe’s Las Piñas branch is indie singer / songwriter, and producer BP Valenzuela. This young electronic musician, inclined to the analog, is at the top of her game. Currently the ambassador of global fashion brand Uniqlo, BP is slowly penetrating the mainstream Complementing BP’s chill vibe is Hoochie Coochie Mikkie, who will be returning to Buku-Buku Kafe after electrifying the crowd with his Delta Blues at Halcyon Days in Buku-Buku Kafe Imus last July.
Now that the second brand is fully operational, Buku-Buku Kafe is slowing redefining and introducing the concept of an art-inspired restaurant. Starting with its new location, it promises to serve unique yet responsibly created and sourced food. Along with the vision of always challenging the norm; taking the simplest form of space and transforming it into something spectacular.
Buku-Buku Kafe is located at the upper ground floor of SM Southmall, Alabang-Zapote Road, Las Piñas. For more information, follow them on Instagram and Facebook, @bukubuku.kafe or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So there… finally will be able to post this blog entry! Yay! 🙂 Thanks again to Jess for hosting me and my daughter… for sharing details about their business and for being so friendly and accommodating.