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KAFE BATWAN by Sarsa: Chef JP Anglo’s New Culinary Playground

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Location: Kafe Batwan, 122 Joya Lofts & Towers, Rockwell, Makati City
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 7:00am to 11:00pm
Instagram: kafebatwan

Kafe Batwan Menu

A photo posted by Candid Cuisine (@candidcuisine) on

KAFE BATWAN by Sarsa: Chef JP Anglo’s New Culinary Playground

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar has three branches now, leaving the celebrity Chef JP Anglo little room for adventure in palate. One can’t be exploratory in a restaurant business that is tried and tested by everyone, where people expect them to serve the menu without variations. Named after the fruit Batuan or Batwan used often in Negrense cooking, Kafe Batwan makes the traveling chef’s desire come to fruition, allowing him to be more playful and gain control over his forte ~ Sarsa. True enough Kafe Batwan’s interiors denote playfulness yet emits contemporary highlights that people like to see at the moment.

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I am not much into Filipino cuisine, but its potential to become a global cuisine is present. One such evidence for a Filipino restaurant to have that potential is for foreigners to have that courage to try out our cuisine. Needless to say, I am not surprised Kafe Batwan attracts a modest crowd of tourists. Traveling is in Chef JP Anglo’s nature, and is one of the reasons why I am willing to try Kafe Batwan. Traveling broadens one’s palate and strengthens its core by bringing in more experience to the basics of original cuisine.

Chef Jayp Anglo’s sarsa techniques combined with a penchant for bold flavors test the limits of Filipino cuisine and Negrense cooking at Kafe Batwan. Is it time for global Filipino cuisine?

Trio of Pinoy Spreads – P250

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This Trio of Pinoy Spreads is like a musical symphony of flavors. Monggo Labuyo (Chili) offers that spicy kick. Salted Egg Talong (my personal favorite; eggplant to the non-Filipino readers) is a salty companion to the biscocho pandesal that obviously should have been done long ago. And the Tahong Ginamos makes a complete orchestra. It is tempting to combine all three in one biscocho piece. I feel like I am traveling from one Philippine region to another.

Dinuguan with Puto – P250

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This is high voltage cuisine, as I always say about Filipino cuisine, because you always need a lot of rice to go along with your entrees.

Kafe Batwan is not just your typical restaurant; it is a cafe that is opened from Breakfast till Dinner but openly serves breakfast even for dinner. Dinuguan with Puto is one of our favorite Filipino snacks, but if given the chance, one cannot resist its temptation to slather it over steamed rice (P45). At Kafe Batwan, the fragrant lure of the rice is impossible to ignore. The three pieces of puto are a tease to the dinuguan, but screw it. A cup of fragrant coconut rice (P60) will do just about it.

Pancit Palabok – P295

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Of all the Filipino dishes, Pancit Palabok or Pancit Luglog has never been my favorite, but crab fat, squid ink and soft boiled egg on Pancit Palabok should make me think twice. The flavor is so rich, offering hints that Filipino cuisine has loads of potential to truly make it global. Kafe Batwan gives that opportunity for non-Palabok lovers to convert.

It could serve more crablets and a bigger serving since the crab fat is too rich.

Sinigang Fried Chicken – P295

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When this Sinigang Fried Chicken arrived, I thought the accompanying sarsa (sauce) was crab fat. Bell pepper gata surprised me, the fried chicken crispy yet not sour to project a sinigang taste, which one expects it will. I loved the sauce best.

Kurobuta Belly – P550

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Kafe Batwan’s Kurobuta Belly claims to not need any knives for cutting it. A slight exaggeration yet the belly oozes tenderness the moment you slice it. Armed with about an inch of fat, the Kurobuta Belly appears to be a glorified liempo, to an ordinary consumer not knowing the difference between the regular pig and the black pig. It’s about time Filipino restaurants use Kurobuta this time, like the other cuisines do.

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Kafe Batwan also uses Kurobuta for their Madrid Fusion Super Batchoy, the dish that showcased Filipino ingenuity in a complex broth at the Madrid Fusion Manila event last April 2015. Perfect for a rainy day, the Madrid Fusion Super Batchoy is a fusion of the beloved Batchoy and the ramen fad, with Kurobuta Charsiu swirling in a 12 hour soup stock.

Chocnut Turon – P195

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On the other hand, Kafe Batwan’s turon is too sweet. Sans the chocolate-peanut sauce, it could be a good ending to the bold, strong and flavorful meal. Offering only two desserts in his menu, Chef JP Anglo admits that desserts are never his specialty, one trait that doesn’t show any experienced chef’s propensities and attempts to hide his weaknesses.

Sizzling Budbud

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At Kafe Batwan, I am willing to try the Sizzling Budbud, which at this point, I still don’t know what it is. (Though I am slightly suspicious it is like puto bumbong. Feel free to educate me 🙂 ) It was mistakenly put on our table, but I highly doubt it too. But for the curious, this is what it looks like.

At Kafe Batwan, there’s the evidence of a well-traveled palate in the kitchen, with experiences from other well-developed countries influencing the way Filipino dishes are plated. Chef Jayps promises to deliver changing menus to his new culinary playground, which I hope, in turn, will teach us more about Filipino cuisine (its true nature), beyond your everyday Adobo, Kaldereta, and Pinakbet. It has been long overdue.

KAFE BATWAN Rating:

Taste and Originality: (3.5 / 5)
Customer Experience: (2.5 / 5)
Value for Money: (3.0 / 5)
Brick and Mortar: (3.0 / 5)
Average: (3.0 / 5)