Good Coffee, Smiling Cow!

Truth be told, my mom and I love food. We love to eat out just as much as we love to cook. So, last Friday, even though it was a few days early, we decided to celebrate Mother’s Day in advance by eating dinner at a restaurant we haven’t visited before.

We choose to eat at UCC Cafe Terraces at West Gate Alabang. A household name in Japan, UCC stands for Ueshima Coffee Company. In Japan, it’s much more than a coffee shop, but an all-around coffee company. The coffee shop side is just one of facets of the business. Its local incarnation however, resembles more of a pricey bistro than a coffee shop. It’s more than just another Starbucks branch, as we discovered to our delight.

UCC Cafe Terraces Display Case
Upon entering, one is immediately greeted by a display case showing plastic replicas of the menu, very reminiscent of Japanese restaurants. My confident stride into the cafe proved to be a faux pas though, as I didn’t know it wasn’t a self-service cafe. Thankfully, a member of the crew was quick to assist us by leading us to an unoccupied booth. Note to self: be more observant next time. 😛 That was when I realized that my notion that UCC was like a Japanese version of Starbucks was a misconception.

UCC Cafe Terraces Interiors
Only as we were waiting for our order was I able to look around the place. UCC Cafe Terraces has such a lovely ambiance. Soft lighting, high ceilings, unobtrusive music, a mezzanine, cushy seats, silent but attentive servers and lovely design details everywhere. They were even quick to serve us with glasses of lemon water as soon as they handed us our menus.

UCC’s Cafe Kahlua

First to arrive was our coffee. Since it was my first time to try UCC Coffee, I went with what sounded good. And how can you go wrong with Coffee Kahlua? A coffee with a dash of liquer (or so I believe), it was a bit bold, softened only by the dollop of whipped cream. It tasted fantastic, even though I didn’t add anything to it. My mom, on the other hand, went for the Sumiyaki Coffee, which our server identified as the strongest brew they had. She even compared it to Kapeng Barako in strength. But how could it be scary when they served it in a cute vacuum coffee brewer? It was such a pity I wasn’t able to snap a photo– I was snapping pics of my own coffee so I wasn’t able to ask her to leave the flask on the table. I didn’t even know what it was exactly, but with Wikipedia on my side, I believe it to be a vacuum coffee brewer.

But I digress. The sumiyaki, despite the disclaimer about its strength, was a very delightful brew. My mom took it with added cream and sugar, but despite the additions, it didn’t drown the full-bodied coffee flavor. Plus, there wasn’t even a hint of bitterness.

UCC’s Seafood Salad
Next to arrive was the seafood salad. Nestled on a bed of crisp mesclun was an assortment of delicious looking nibbles. There was ebi furai (breaded fried shrimp), breaded scallops, imitation crabsticks, cucumber, corn, slices of firm tomato, and a smidgin of ebiko (shrimp roe). Drizzled on top of the lettuce was (I’m quessing here) QP mayo and on the side was a boat of vinaigrette. After biting into it, it was easy to understand why our server identified it, along with the Kani Salad, as their best-selling salad. The various lettuces were crisp and fresh, the ebi furai had good quality shrimp, the scallops were yummy, and the dressing was a mix of sour and a hint of sweetness. It was flavorful without being cloying to the tastebuds. It was an excellent accompaniment to the salad fixings because it never drowned out the food’s natural flavors.

UCC’s Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
To round out the meal, we ordered a serving of Chicken and Mushroom Risotto. After taking a bite, my mom pronounced it delicious but too much. True enough, we only finished half of the plate. The rice in itself was heavy, but the cream-base was so rich and flavorful, a few spoonfuls were enough to satisfy our appetites. The Risotto was chockful of chicken, skin included which explains the rich, chicken flavor. The shiitake mushrooms held their own flavor and was a delightful counterpoint to the creamy base. A generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese added a hint of saltiness that went perfectly well with the creaminess. It was good enough to warrant me asking for the leftovers to be packed. Sure enough, I nuked it in the microwave the next day and it was still good, albeit a tad drier.

Despite the seemingly light meal, we left UCC happy and stuffed. On hindsight, next time, we’re going to ask them to serve the coffee last because that would’ve been the perfect end to the meal. And next time, we want to check out their dessert too. Unfortunately, I think next time isn’t going to be anytime soon, because while it was a truly delightful meal, for me, 600PHP per head is a bit pricey for a light meal. Still, wait for me UCC. I will definitely be back. How can I resist its Good Coffee Smile?

UCC Cafe Terrace has branches in West Gate Alabang, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and The Paseo Center in Makati. UCC Vienna Cafe has branches in Tomas Morato Plaza, Connecticut in Greenhills, and The Podium in Ortigas.
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23 Responses to Good Coffee, Smiling Cow!

  1. Clair says:

    I was in the Paseo Center branch once. My friend’s treat. The coffee is a bit pricey ;_; Maybe they are using Japan prices 😛 Hehe. But they truly have awesome coffee and a lovely, lovely, lovely ambiance. :)

    • kaoko says:

      I haven’t been to the Paseo Center branch yet but if it’s much like the West Gate one, it’s probably lovely. The nice thing about the West Gate branch is that it’s in West Gate which feels so…non-commercial district.

      • Clair says:

        Maybe I should see the one in West Gate so I could compare? 😉

        Waah. Wish ko lang it’s not too pricey. Masyadong masakit sa bulsa eh… ;_;

  2. Kacy says:

    We ate there for dinner one night. I ordered some kind of grilled eggplant sandwich, which, although quite delicious, was very slippery and difficult to eat. I also nearly pierced my brain by biting into a slice that had a broken toothpick embedded in it! Needless to say I’m not such a big fan of UCC anymore XS

    • kaoko says:

      That’s scary! Which branch did you eat at, so I may remember to look out for broken toothpicks? If you like eggplant sandwiches though, have you tried Cafe Mediterranean’s Vegetarian Panini with Hummus? <3 <3 <3 Absolute love.

  3. dementedchris says:

    Yummy-looking risotto!

  4. aoitenshi says:

    I once interviewed the owner of UCC in their Podium branch because – did you notice – they use PDAs to take their orders? Hehe. I got to try the Sumiyaki for free. It was pretty good! I haven’t been back since though, and I didn’t know that there was a branch in ATC haha. The risotto looks so scrumptious. How much did that dish cost?

    • kaoko says:

      Ay no! I didn’t see any PDAs being whipped out, but then, there were only a few diners at the time. I like the Sumiyaki too. I was looking for some at South Supermarket today but they don’t have UCC coffee in stock :( The risotto…hmmm, I think a little less than 300PHP. It’s at West Gate though, and not ATC. Still near enough. 😀

      • Clair says:

        Rustan’s has UCC coffee.

        Anyway, what plugin are you using for threaded comments pala? 😀

      • kaoko says:

        I think it’s Brian’s Nested Comments 😀 Or was it threaded? Basta, you’re sure to find it in the wordpress plug-ins bank 😀

        One thing I don’t like about it however, is the fact that I have to type my info each time I post. I remember the default wordpress form memorizes my info as long as I was logged-in. But then, it’s a small price to pay to stay organized 😀

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  7. adiksakape says:

    i am so lucky to be next door neighbors with UCC cafe plaza located at Walnut,CA. one rainy friday my friend and i drove to UCC. we had chicken omurice, so good, fruit crepe , iced cafe au lait and vienna coffee. yum! and i found out that it’s the only UCC in LA.

    my goal is to visit Japan and eat in UCC cafe.

    i wish.

    • kaoko says:

      Sigh. I’d love to go to Japan as well. One day, I will. But first, I must save up. 😛 I can’t even begin to list all the food and shopping places I want to visit.

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  10. fornetti says:

    I do not believe this

  11. Alexis says:

    The kahlua coffee sounds good. When I went to UCC last month with my sister (we went to the branch near Corinthians & GreenMeadows) I had the Irish Cream Coffee. :) I like Bailey’s so that was my immediate pick. Very good too, although my perfect Irish Cream coffee would be one where they serve it with a small gravy boat of extra Bailey’s on the side, to add more as needed. XD

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  13. Suzy says:

    I was reminiscing about UCC Coffee this morning, while drinking my morning brew. I remember my student treating me in UCC Park Cafe while having an English lesson… I forgot what I ate, but I remember the smell of the coffee!

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