Last week, my date and I were fortunate to try out another café we have never been to. Located in the 2nd floor of UP Bahay ng Alumni, this simple yet cozy-looking comfort food destination is well-hidden in the UP Diliman compound. With no sign boards, tarpaulins or any promotional items to guide a wandering foodie, only UP students and faculty, as well as long-time patrons would have known that Chocolate Kiss Cafe is a gem tucked in the area.
Chocolate Kiss Cafe is owned by a family who are proud alumni of the University of the Philippines. It all started with two siblings who have a strong passion for baking cakes and cookies. But come 1997, what was only a hobby became a business venture as the family finally opened the resto-café to cater to teachers and students of UP Diliman. As of today though, there are already 2 branches in the compound -- one in the 2nd floor and another one in the ground floor (morning 'til afternoon only). They also have a 3rd branch in Roces Avenue.
Although Chocolate Kiss Cafe is a hidden gem, its interior is as good as those of other cafés in town. Its space spells simplicity with just white walls and deep red-colored tiles. However, there are reds and blacks which accented the whole place, as well as pastel-colored flowers and framed paintings which added a soft and dainty touch to the café. And good news to suave suitors, you can bring your date here and enjoy a casual yet quite intimate dinner since Chocolate Kiss Cafe also provides soothing live music every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
After enjoying the simple, casual yet still very cozy ambiance at Chocolate Kiss Cafe, it was finally time to try out what their kitchen can offer. Along with bloggers and fellow OpenRicers, we were first offered with meal starters such as the Chicken Quesadilla (P225).
This quesadilla is a good starter, but not a memorable one. Served with sour cream and salsa on the side, the Chicken Quesadilla contains the usual fillings one would expect from this Mexican favorite -- chicken, cheese, bell peppers and onions, sandwiched between two flour tortillas and pan-fried to a slight crisp.
Next we were served with the Spinach Cream Dip (P180) -- a warm cream cheese dip enveloping a mixture of spinach, mushrooms and roasted peppers, served with slices of butter-toasted French bread on the side. Like the first dish, this plate was good but not memorable.
We were also served their Fish Croquettes (P185) -- deep-fried flaked fish and mashed potatoes rolled in bread crumbs and served with horseradish dip, Piglets (P155) -- bite-sized German franks wrapped in bacon, and Rumaki (P162) -- chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. These 3 were tasty and definitely good meal starters that everyone in the table nodded approval.
We also got to sample 2 sandwiches with fries from Chocolate Kiss Cafe, their Pulled-Pork Sandwich (P205) -- oven-roasted pork pulled from the bone, drizzled with Mesquite barbecue sauce and sandwiched in home-baked bun, and Cheeseburger (P215) -- one-third pound pure beef patty with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, dill pickles and cheese sandwiched also in a home-baked bun. Both sandwiches were juicy and tasty. They're good but nothing exemplary.
By now, you'd probably realized that Chocolate Kiss Cafe offers international dishes. So after a trip to Mexico, Britain, Germany and America, we got to sample Italy this time through the Linguine Margherita with Shrimp (P235) and Hungarian Sausage & Penne (P210) which were both savory and al dente-cooked pasta dishes.
Chocolate Kiss Cafe also caters to rice meal lovers by offering quality Spanish-Filipino favorites like the Beef Caldereta (P250) -- beef chunks, potatoes, chorizo, bell peppers and olives swimming in tomato-liver sauce, and Callos Madrileña (P255) -- ox tripe and tendons simmered with chorizo Bilbao, chickpeas, bell peppers and olive oil, both served with pandan rice.
We also got to try the savory Chicken Kiev with Garlic Mashed Potato (P240) -- roulade of tender chicken breast filled with cream cheese, butter and herbs, Fish Kiev with Rice (P250) -- the fish version of the chicken kiev, served with white wine scallion sauce, Hickory Smoked Spareribs (P210) -- grilled pork spareribs with Hickory sauce and buttered corn kernels, and Fish Fillet with Pesto Salsa (P235) -- grilled fillet of fish topped with corn-pesto salsa on paprika rice.
If you think we're already done, then think again. After the wide array of international food items, we were served with yet another Asian favorite -- Kalbi Chim (P240). This Korean dish is also known as Galbijjim, and is composed of beef short ribs and shiitake mushrooms stewed Korean style and served with kimchi and rice. The beef was tender and had a spicy, savory taste. I cannot comment on the kimchi though as I am personally not a fan.
Another Asian dish we had is the Indonesian staples Sate Ayam & Nasi Goreng (P245) which directly translates to chicken satay (barbecue with peanut sauce) and fried rice. Chocolate Kiss Cafe's version though is even topped with fried egg and crackling krupuk, with a siding of veggies. Being a chicken stay lover, I actually liked this dish. The chicken meat was tender, not overcooked and tasted nicely with the peanut sauce. The fried rice was also flavorful and close to what I had in Singapore.
After sampling all these dishes, it was time to have a taste of what Chocolate Kiss Cafe is very much proud of -- their desserts. We got to try 11 meal-enders and out of this number, my top favorites that night were the Classic Chocolate Cake (P103), Carrot Cake (P80) and Sour Cream Cheesecake (P115).
The Classic Chocolate Cake was the most memorable food I've eaten that evening. The dark chocolate base cake was moist and tasted very rich. It is also filled and frosted with dark chocolate ganache. The Carrot Cake on the other hand, was actually a no-brainer. I love carrot cakes so it's just natural that a good one will top my list. The Sour Cream Cheesecake was a surprise though. I don't really dig cheesecakes in general, but I really liked this one. Maybe the harmonious blend of sour and sweet, as well as the home-made sour cream topping won me over.
My next favorites were the Sans Rival (P80), Texas Square Sundae (P115) and another wild card, the Blueberry Cheesecake (P115). Sans Rival ranks high in my must-order list since I like Silvanas, so it was not a surprise that I would like even an ordinary version. The Texas Square Sundae on the other hand, is Chocolate Kiss Cafe's take on a brownie ala mode. The brownie is quite good, rich and quite gooey. However, it's not as good as the one I've tried at Burgoo's. The Blueberry Cheesecake was another surprising item I quite liked for reason I can't really tell. I just thought it's good.
Kahlua Butter Cake (P105), Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (P120), Quezo Chiffon Cake (P85) and Date Walnut Cake (P80) -- these cakes are the ones I either find just okay or have forgotten the taste of, 'cause with these much cakes to sample, who wouldn't have confused taste buds?
We also got to sample Chocolate Kiss Cafe's pride, its Devil's Food Cake (P80) -- a deep rich chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling and marshmallow frosting. I haven't had a lot of Devil's Food Cake in my life, but I was quite disappointed with this one. The marshmallow frosting is quite good but a little too sweet for my taste. The base cake on the other hand, was slightly crumbly.
Normally, I do not find the need to write about iced tea. However, Chocolate Kiss Cafe's Bottomless Iced Tea (P70) is quite interesting. Instead of using powdered iced tea like other food establishments', they use freshly brewed tea and serves a cold glass with a carafe of sugar syrup -- healthier and nicer in presentation.
This visit to Chocolate Kiss Cafe is a memorable one since I have not sampled, blogged and reviewed this much food in a single post. But seriously speaking, almost everything we've tried in this resto-café is good. Each dish served got a nod for approval. Variety is also something Chocolate Kiss Cafe can definitely boast of. With this single trip, we have sampled dishes of European, Asian and American influence. They also have an array of cakes and pastries for dessert. I liked most of their food items, and I can definitely vouch for their tagline. Yes, Chocolate Kiss Cafe does serve good stuff.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
The Chocolate Kiss Cafe, UP Diliman
2/F Ang Bahay ng Alumni, R. Magsaysay St.,
UP Diliman, Quezon City
Metro Manila Philippines