After a long and arduous half-day of seemingly nonstop walking and shooting around Rizal Park and along Roxas Boulevard for my photography class, I thought of rewarding myself for being patient and hardworking despite the gloomy and drizzly weather. After watching the sunset at Manila Bay, I waded my way to this café with an ad outside that says “We make serious coffee so strong it wakes up our neighbors.” If you are someone who frequents this area, you may notice that this café is in between Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Yes, it’s the Café Shiro.
The Place and the Ambiance
Honestly, I was quite hesitant to go in because it looked so fancy and posh and I only had a Php500 bill with me. I used to tread along this part of the boulevard and this is one of the cafés I’ve long been planning to try, I told myself. Their cheapest drink will do. Anyways, I am only after the adventure of trying out new things. So after a long inner monologue, I finally decided to give it a try.
The interior of the shop is cozy showcase of modern Japanese design. The ambiance is undeniably classy and entrancing. It’s conducive for studying, paperworks and even just pure hangout with oneself or with a group of friends. The area is spacious and there was no one else aside from me, the baristas and some group of Japanese people so it allows you to plan and think things over without too many distractions.
Coffee and Food
As soon as I sat down, I was given a menu. One side shows a list of their Japanese food and drinks; the other side lists their hot, cold, and blended coffee-based drinks, fruit smoothies and desserts. Of course I flipped for the latter. I can’t bear looking at the prices of their Japanese chows. :p
I got myself a hot choco coffee which, to me, tastes like a hot chocolate with no hint of coffee at all. (Uhh… more caffeine, please?) I was longing for some pastries and I couldn’t find one in their menu so I had to ask one of the baristas there. He said they don’t have one.
The food offerings of Café Shiro are definitely an advantage. It’s the only café I know that offers Japanese gastronomy as well as coffee. Unlike some cafés that drown their customers with jazz music, this café-restaurant offers a wider range of beautiful music, ranging from Japanese pop music and RnB to good old songs like “Unchained Melody”, and sentimental OPM songs like “Moonlight Over Paris” and Robbie William’s “Angels”. It was one of those times I felt high because of eargasmic music in the background. It kind of fed my hypomanic imagination. It was therapeutic!
Their space and location are a definite plus. Some cafés are too cramped that you won’t be able to put your feet up and just unwind. Café Shiro lets you do just that especially after a long day at work or school or, in my case, a lengthy stride out for a project. And with its fine selection of romantic songs in the background, it can also be a nice day-ender for couples after watching the sunset at the Manila Bay.
Value for Money
I have to admit that the prices are a bit high if not prohibitive. If my memory serves me right, their coffee beverages cost from Php125- Php195. The small cup of brew cost me Php125 so I needed to take small sips so I could stay longer. I believe this café is for the upper middle to first classes. They also charge you with a service fee. All in all, I paid for roughly Php140.
Their service is fast enough. They served me my choco coffee in about 3-4 minutes. There were only a few customers at that time so the baristas can really attend to your needs even before you call their attention. By the way, this is funny but one worry I had before going in is that their staff might be speaking in Nihonggo and I might need an interpreter just to get single transaction done! Fortunately, they are Filipinos too and they converse in Filipino. Too much anxiety of me. :p
Opportunities to Work On
The wifi! I mean, there were only me and a group in the café and the wifi was annoyingly slow. Nothing makes you feel lonelier than going on your own to a shop that has a slow wifi. It defeats the purpose of having one. Nevertheless, I know this can be fixed. Other than this, I don’t have anything else to say.
Just a block to the left of Café Shiro, there’s Starbucks and there’s also Cofee Bean and Tea Leaf to its right. If you frequent these two shops, you might find them too customary already. You might be itching to explore something new; Café Shiro will widely open its doors with a warm “Irashaimase!”