food + drinks by Alyssa Castillo

Buku-Buku Kafe is More than Meets the Eye

Art, music, books, and food collide in this quirky artistic hub in Las Piñas.

Walking into a restaurant, one usually expects to just sit down and eat. Simple enough, sure, but that doesn’t always have to be the case—not entirely, at least. Apart from the pleasure of devouring some of their scrumptious dishes, Buku-Buku Kafe offers much more: a space for eating, drinking, reading, listening, and for discovering unique tokens to take home.2The Santiago Trio (composed of a mother, daughter, and son team) strive to bring together a like-minded community that has fine appreciation for all kinds of arts. According to the trio, they decided to bring the Cavite-born Buku-Buku Kafe to the metro in an effort to create a local hub for artists and independent musicians as well as to boost the art and music scene down south.8The name Buku-Buku stems from the phrase “many, many books” in the Bahasa language. True to its namesake, the café features a diverse collection of books, comics, and independent zines, as well as prints, postcards, notebooks, and other novelty items crafted by local makers and designers. Among the vast array of knick-knacks includes Pia Besmonte’s limited run of Manic Pixie Depressive Gremlin, which discusses the trials and triumphs of the 21st century Filipina, as well as native Caviteño artist Rubie Sales’ temporary tattoo brand Tatsify, which she created with the intention to collaborate with local calligraphers and graphic artists.9Like many ideas integrated inside Buku-Buku Kafe, the menu was curated and inspired by the Santiagos’ own travels across Asia and Europe; as well as their own twists on Pinoy favorites. Their slow-cooked Beef Brisket Tapa is an ode to the breakfast classic Tapsilog, and is served with garlic rice, a fried egg, and roasted tomatoes on the side. The bestselling Romi Lamen is an upgraded lomi which features pork broth, roasted pork, pork liver, a soft-boiled egg, shitake nori, chicharon, and kimchi.11 Among their other must-try dishes includes their take on local classics like their Isaw Fries or their Asian Friend Chicken Adobo, as well as their Western twist on the popular Singaporean noodle dish, the Lamb Laksa. Down these hearty dishes with a cup of their freshly brewed coffee or even a cocktail of your choice. A couple of swigs might just put the cherry on top of a good, relaxing night with your friends while you catch a live set by local musicians like BP Valenzuela.61The Santiagos further highlight their passion for creativity by making it a constant key throughout the entire process of bringing Buku-Buku Kafe from Cavite to Las Piñas. The new branch possesses an industrial chic look that champions the visual arts and that fits neatly into its 123 sqm space. Every corner from floor to ceiling is riddled with quirky design details, from sprawling wall murals to framed black and white vintage photographs to their picturesque lighting fixtures which are suspended amid overhanging ‘floating’ books.
bukubukuBrimming with creativity and art, Buku-Buku Kafe is stepping up to the plate to claim their title as an emerging destination where art, music, and good food collide.

Photos from Buku-Buku Kafe

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @alyssakcastillo.
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