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

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Urban Chick

For the second part of the Maginhawa Street Adventures, is our first ever date in the area. Since my mind was zoned out from the law school entrance exam, we decided to go to Urban Chick, a place that Kat has been telling me about for some time now.

Nondescript outside, one wouldn’t think that the place is spacious, but it definitely is once inside. The wooden tables and chairs, along with the menu on chalkboards are a nice touch that makes the resto have a homey classroom diner feel to it. And there’s enough space to move around comfortably, which is a plus since the place normally sees groups of students at any given time throughout the week. The clucking chickens to call for service is a quirky and amusing add on, and their ground rules for their free wifi is definitely a reminder for each one to be kind and positive. Just like the owners.

First ones that came to our table were the garden salad for me and the croquettas for Kat. The salad had fresh vegetables but my preference would be with less dressing on mine. But the croquettas are a perfect appetizer, a crunchy exterior and a soft and creamy center, with just enough seasoning to wake one’s taste buds without ruining an appetite.

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Croquettas and Garden Salad

For our main meal, we shared six pieces of chicken wings coated in barbecue sauce with plain rice each. And I kid you not, the wings blew my mind with how flavorful they were, along with their right amount of crunch and the tenderness of the meat inside.

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BBQ Chicken Wings

The last one was the oreo balls and they were alright in balancing out the savory meal before, a soft treat to the palate.

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Oreo Balls

All factors considered, we’re definitely going back so we can have a go at their pastas and sandwiches. The place is perfect for a group of great friends and loved ones at student-friendly prices.

Food Score: 4.5/5. Besides the salad hiccup, I believe the food here is great. The menu is varied to accommodate all tastes, budgets, and appetites, ranging from solo snacks and portions, to platters good for a group of friends.

Ambiance / Service Score: 5/5. Urban Chick is a restaurant that leaves one at ease with the furnishings and the casual feel of the place. They treat their clients not as clientele but as guests welcome into their own home, a place open for studying students, groups of friends, or in our case, as a couple out on a date

GERD Score: 4.5/5. While there are meals like the Alphan Meal that will trigger one’s heartburn like crazy because of the volume of food, there are still plenty of great options for anyone as long as they repeat the mantra ‘chew slowly and thoroughly’.

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5. Hooray for fresh ingredients and natural seasonings! This place is a refreshing change from the stereotypical ‘unhealthy’ student fare of instant noodles and other overly processed nasties. Of course coffee is unavoidable in such a haunt (the Sweet Bae concoction packs quite a punch), but as always there are other options.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5. Overall, Urban Chick is a must for any foodie travelling to Maginhawa. The walk from the other end of the long and winding street is worth every step, and best shared with friends.

Hi everyone, we’re taking in suggestions for our next food adventures  whether in Makati, Maginhawa, or anywhere in the Metro. Hope to hear from you soon!

Urban Chick BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato