Manila Tastes

For champorado that hits the spot: WOWA Cafe

If you happen to be here in Manila during the height of typhoon season (read: July to September), then I’ll let you in on a favorite Filipino rainy day comfort food: Champorado.

Champorado is basically porridge made of sticky rice—”malagkit” in local culinary parlance—and infused with pure chocolate called tablea. To temper the richness of the tablea, we pour in a generous amount of evaporated milk or milk powder (I prefer the latter because the stickier the champorado is, the greedier I get about it). Turning this dish into perfection is tuyo or dried fish. It sounds like the weirdest combination, I know, but trust me. Add crumbled or tiny strips of tuyo in your champorado and the melange of salty and sweet will brighten up your resting bitch face.

Because I haven’t lived with family for a while, I’ve not eaten champorado in ages. So a few weeks ago, when I played hooky with my neighbor Papu one weekday morning, we stumbled upon this newly opened cafe called WOWA along Bayani Road, where, lo and behold, the magic word “CHAMPORADO” was printed on their menu.

My mouth watered instantly.

While I find their serving of tuyo sorely lacking (read: Not entirely their fault as I tend to go a little overboard with the tuyo at home), the crumbled chocnut was a nice touch. And look: powdered AND evaporated milk!

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WOWA Cafe is a restaurant after my own heart. And I’m talking beyond my much-missed comfort food.

The cafe has all the elements I look for in a neighborhood cafe: slow-cooked comfort food, decent coffee, offbeat interiors, huge tables, sockets aplenty, and a lot of travel-inspired design elements the owner gathered from his travels to Japan, Nepal and places in the Philippines. It’s like seeing the pins of my “Freelance Diaries” board on Pinterest come to life.

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Paps and I had the pleasure of talking to the owner, Cyrus, who happened to be in the cafe at that time. We tend to be a nosy curious duo, and we managed to cull the following information: He writes for television, is a filmmaker (we even saw some of his travel videos), his family has been in the food business since he and his sister (whom he runs the cafe with) were kids, WOWA is their mom who is now a lola (grandmother), the garlic spareribs and adobo are wowa’s recipe, we share some common friends…and we are also now friends on Facebook. Haha.

Check out WOWA Cafe on Facebook. Much as I want to monopolize the space by keeping WOWA a secret, I like pimping out my friends. So…here is their address:

Equator Complex, 56 Bayani Rd, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, 1630 Metro Manila.

See you there! :)

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