Kanto Freestyle Breakfast

Since we at Team Glasses have taken on the challenge of being working students pretty much six days a week, we have realized that a hearty breakfast has become essential to maintaining our well-being and sanity. Fortunately for us, we have learned of some 24-hour dining places not too far from our usual haunts. One such example is Kanto Freestyle Breakfast, which has become synonymous with delicious yet affordable meals to begin the day (or end a late night).

We stopped by Kanto Freestyle Breakfast’s branch in Poblacion, Makati, one Saturday morning. This branch is literally at a kanto or street corner, evoking the feel of a homestyle diner or eatery. Despite the rather simple ambiance, the menu laid before us was anything but. The fare here encompassed traditional Filipino breakfast food such as tapa (beef jerky), longganisa (sausages), tuyo (dried fish) and champorado (chocolate rice porridge), as well as other cosmopolitan favorites such as pancakes, omelets, and sandwiches. Diners even had the option to ‘freestyle’ breakfast by mixing and matching different viands. For this adventure we decided to try out Kanto Freestyle Breakfast’s rendition of tapsilog: New Zealand Beef Tapa served with garlic fried rice and an egg cooked as per the customer’s preference. We also tried out the hash browns topped with poached egg and tomato pesto.

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The tapa was scrumptious but perhaps a prior warning in the menu that the tapa had chili in the marinade would have been appreciated. Along with the rice and fried egg, it balances and spreads the saltiness of the soy sauce marinade around beautifully. However, like most Filipino breakfast choices, it tends to be on the oily side.

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The hash browns with poached egg was an interesting experience for us; this was not a combo we normally would have thought of. The egg was cooked to the right degree of runniness, and went well with the crispy hash browns. Although we had been looking forward to having the tomato pesto to round out the dish, the tomato was more of garnishing in this case. Thankfully the dish was flavored with a hint of paprika for a much needed kick.

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We also had the Kanto Hot Choco to accompany our meals. Though this drink had much in the way of flavor, and was served with a good helping of hot milk, we found it a little on the thin side for our tastes.

Throughout the meal we wound up musing about the health value of the ‘traditional’ Filipino breakfast, which often consists of rice with a side of some fried or boiled meat or fish, and in some cases accompanied by an egg. Coffee, especially instant coffee, is also a feature of many Filipino morning meals. Admittedly the Filipino breakfast can be improved with the addition of more whole grains as well as fruit and vegetable options, alongside the reduction in the consumption of sugars such as overly sweetened coffee. This will be something we hope to find in our future breakfast excursions.

The Food Score:  4/5: The servings here were hearty, with well cooked and flavorful viands. The menu also caters to a variety of tastes; those who eschew rice for breakfast may choose pancakes, waffles, and bread to fill up on.  

Ambiance/Service Score: 2.5/5: Sad to say this was the major downside of our breakfast. The service at this branch was rather inattentive with small things such as cleaning tables, or bringing the bill to the customers.  

GERD Score: 3/5: The variety does help to find options for people with heartburn. However, it would be helpful for people with GERD if the menu pointed out if a meal had chili peppers or is inherently spicy.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: Variety saves the day again here, as there is a selection of dishes that are mostly free of preservatives and other possible triggers. Some caution must be exercised with the  meaty breakfast viands, as these often tend to be cured or preserved products.  

Team Glasses Score: 3/5: This place is excellent as far as comfort food and hangover cures are concerned. However we feel we can find other healthy breakfast options in different establishments.

Kanto Freestyle Breakfast Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Negative Space Cafe

Negative Space Cafe
Team Glasses’ Student Specials: Part 1
A major change we’ve been hurdling over the past few weeks is that both of us have begun our graduate studies. Among the various challenges our new situation presents is the need to find places where we could spend hours quietly studying, preferably with access to good food and Internet. In the interest of fulfilling all these criteria, we steered clear of the more ubiquitous coffee shops and cafes near our workplaces, and headed back to a familiar area frequented by university students: Maginhawa Street in Diliman. This time we tried out the Negative Space Café, located in Teachers Village.

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The café’s name already suggests a different feel and aesthetic from other ‘art cafes’. Instead of boasting of brightly decorated walls filled up with canvases, sculptures, installations, and kitsch, the Negative Space Café has a spacious, relatively uncluttered interior. The artworks featured on the walls are carefully curated, providing a balance that arouses cafe patrons’’ interest but do not prove too distracting for work. The general feel is that of a straightforward yet welcoming place that is conducive for quiet reading as well as group discussions.

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The menu here at Negative Space Café boasts of an extensive selection of beverages, as well as Japanese-themed snacks and entrees. For our afternoon sojourn here, we tried out the cha soba with vegetable tempura, as well as the Japanese cheese curry bake. The cha soba noodles were firm and lightly flavored with sesame, providing a refreshing contrast to the richer flavors of the vegetable tempura. The tempura went beyond the usual kangkong and radishes; over here even mushrooms and eggplants could be turned into a delectable fried dish.

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On the other hand, the Japanese cheese curry bake was served in a no-nonsense fashion in a ramekin, with a side of coleslaw in Japanese mayonnaise. This entree was not too heavily spiced, and well-balanced by the melted cheese; however, it was not as sweet as we had expected from other Japanese curry recipes. Nevertheless, it was still a filling, satisfying choice for an early dinner.

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Although we had heard of the varied coffee blends available in Negative Space Café, we opted to try the Italian sodas, particularly the watermelon soda as well as peach soda topped with whipped cream. These drinks were refreshing, avoiding the usual sickly sweetness of other carbonated drinks.  The addition of whipped cream to the peach soda turned this concoction into a delightful cream soda that was good as a drink on its own or as a light dessert.
The Negative Space Café is a promising example of what a student hang-out ought to be: affordable, with a variety of quality snacks and light entrees, and with ample facilities for different types of study sessions. We hope that more students as well as patrons from other offices and businesses in the Diliman area will consider this café as a venue not only for solo dining but for group ventures and meetings.
The Food Score:  4/5: The food was reasonably priced and filling, with flavors that were familiar and not too jarring. The selection, though mostly Japanese themed, is varied enough to cater to different appetites and tastes.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: This place goes beyond the usual café setups of small tables and cushy chairs; here there are no-nonsense wooden chairs with wide tables that are more suited for spreading out books and worksheets, or setting up laptops. As mentioned before, the décor and art collections here are quirky yet not overly distracting, thus making the place more conducive for study.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. Considering the size and heftiness of the meals on the stomach, and at the same time, some triggers for food and drinks, one should share meals from the better part of their selection.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: Alas some of the foods here such as the curry cannot be prepared from scratch, and may rely on highly seasoned mixes for quick cooking. Gluten free foods are in short supply here as well. However there is a decent selection of non-caffeinated drinks for those diners sensitive to this substance. The lighting and sounds here are mellow, without flashes or overly loud blaring that may trigger a seizure episode.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. This cafe is not a place for diners looking for haute cuisine or novelty eats. However if one needs an area to work in, with a snack or hot drink on the side, the Negative Space Cafe is a place to go.

Negative Space Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato