A new al fresco coffee shop just opened right across the San Agustin Church at the Plaza San Luis Complex inside Manila’s famed Walled City. Called Café Intramuros, it carries the same Spanish colonial feel that Manila’s oldest district is known for. But Christopher Tamayo, the café’s chef and owner, says diners can expect something new when it comes to food: a heartwarming yet contemporary take on popular Pinoy fare.
Chef Chris, who completed his culinary arts degree at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, says he wants to pay homage to and promote Filipino cuisine in his own way thru the 30-seater café. For now, the establishment is still on soft opening, so the menu is limited to coffee, milk tea, and a selection of cakes (the Mango Coconut and Ube Custard are popular) and pies. (Beverages range from P100 to P150, while the cakes are P150 to P200 per slice.)
But he’s excited about the updated merienda fare he’ll be serving soon: a version of the palitaw which has calamansi curd, yema custard, purple yam jam, and toasted coconut; and the champorado which won’t come in the form of porridge but in a revel bar. “The flavors are very Filipino but I used French techniques in making them,” the chef offers.
However, he’s keeping his biko, puto bumbong and bibingka as close to what majority of Pinoys are familiar with. “I loved biko as a kid. It’s a very straightforward recipe made of glutinous rice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and coconut curds, and I’d like to keep it that way.” By end of June, the café will also be serving meat dishes like caldereta and sisig pasta.
The 28-year-old chef is the third among the five children of Tamayo’s Catering founder Steve Tamayo. He also currently serves as the general manager of the family’s Tamayo’s Group of Companies. Chris has been working as Tamayo’s Catering’s GM since he was 21.
The café puts out some tables and chairs outside on weekends. Soon, it will open an air-conditioned section at the second floor. “The structure, particularly the balcony area, just needs to be reinforced since we’re expecting an inflow of guests,” says Chris. The space formerly served as the company’s corporate office, which is now located in España Manila. The move is, of course, not lost on this second generation food entrepreneur. “Tamayo’s Catering is back where it all began,” the young chef says.
Café Intramuros is located at Stall 1-C, Plaza San Luis Complex, General Luna St., cor. Real St., Intramuros, Manila.
Photos courtesy of Chef Chris Tamayo