Bench Cafe Highstreet: When Bench is More Than Just A Retail Store

A day before Lorraine left for Australia, we met again in BGC. Indeed, time will never be enough for good friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. She is the type of friend that doesn’t need any grand attention nor superfluous celebration, that things easily fall into place even in the simplest gestures.

Choosing a date place was easy. It was late afternoon when I was looking for light snacks after work. We passed by Bench in Bonifacio Highstreet and noticed the big menu signage of Bench Cafe outside. I’ve been wanting to try it before when I was walking alone in Highstreet but always hesitated. Now that I had a friend with me, it was the perfect time to try Bench Cafe.

Ambience

Bench Cafe is located on the second floor of the flagship store. I grew up recognizing Bench as the leading provider of basic merchandise, such as clothes, shoes, toiletries, scents, and even home accessories. You’d associate it to anything casual and practical. But visiting the restaurant is another story — it reveals Bench’s more refined, dainty side as seen in the artistic taste of Bench cafe’s interiors.

The color palette is easy to the eyes — pastel colors and subdued shades of black and white was visually appealing. Basic ornaments such as bottles and chandeliers were designed to be chic accents to the elegance of the cafe. The unique chandeliers hanging at the grand staircase are even noteworthy to look at.

Food

I’ve heard good things about Bench cafe’s menu, highlighting Filipino food with a modern twist. Halo halo and Pancit were among those mentioned as commendable, but we tried Arrozcaldo, Palabok, and Kesong Puti Sandwich.

Bench’s take on Arrozcaldo is no non-sense. Served in a pretty plate, the porridge had the right balance of saltiness that you still have room to mix in the condiments such as fish sauce, calamansi, and ginger. It was topped with spring onions, sunny side-up egg, garlic bits, and adobo flakes. The mix of tastes and textures created that exquisite version of Arrozcaldo that is not served in the sidewalk eateries. Kit liked it a lot.

Arrozcaldo, Php 199

The presentation of Palabok was equally stunning. The toppings were deconstructed compared to the ordinary Palabok where everything is mixed together. You’ll see roast pork, chicharon, egg floss, shrimps, spring onions, and kamias placed at a distance from the sauce and the noodles — making you distinguish and appreciate the ingredients of this festive dish. I somewhat felt it should have a bigger serving though.

Palabok, Php 179.

Lorraine had the Tatlong Kesong Puti Pandesal, a sandwich of Kesong Puti, tomatoes, egg, and served with Kamote chips. The sandwich was also a delightful merienda, but it tasted bland for me. For Kit and Lorraine, it was just right.

Kesong Puti Burger

Service

We have seen a number of foreigners dining at the Cafe and it explains that Bench is really known as a reputable global brand. The service was bit slow, considering that there were only a few customers when we dined. It could be that the priority of these servers were the foreigners but I certainly hope it’s not. We only had few orders and we even had to call the attention of the waiter to give us glasses of cold water. The service was a bit disappointing but I hope it can be improved on my next visit.

Final Words

Bench again proves itself as a innovative brand but this time in the restaurant industry. I’m sure the other Filipino viands are worth trying. Food taste and presentation: they certainly nailed it. I just hope they will be more consistent in good customer service next time.

Bench Cafe
Second Floor, Bench Flagship Store, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue Corner Lane O, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Phone Number: +63 9177021133
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11 AM to 10 PM
Facebook: Bench Cafe Ph
Instagram: benchcafeph

A Review on Yayoi Japanese Teishoku BGC + Reunion with Kasintre

Last Christmas season, I avoided parties. Not really being an anti-social, but I wanted to reserve my time and energy for doing personal things, spending the holidays with the family and avoiding the stress of traffic and overspending. Keeping things simple made me happy that way. There were only selected occasions that I confirmed my attendance with, and those were special blogging events, reunions with family and very close friends.

One of the socials that I particularly enjoyed and deemed unforgettable was when I had a reunion with my elementary friends in Colegio de Sta. Rosa (CSR). When one of our dear friends Lorraine came home from Australia to celebrate Christmas, we quickly arranged a meet-up in BGC and I tell you, that was one of the unplanned and spontaneous dates we’ve had in a while because we are all busy with our schedules. 

After strolling around BGC and chitchat over coffee, we looked for a restaurant to eat dinner. Since most restaurants in BGC are fully-booked on a Sunday, we then decided to go to a newly-opened mall, One Bonifacio Highstreet (the mall located at the far end of High Street Central, near the fountain). Upon seeing that Yayoi Teishoku Restaurant had seats readily available for our group, we all agreed to settle here finally.

ABOUT YAYOI TEISHOKU RESTAURANT

Yayoi takes a new approach to one of the famous Japanese cuisines, Teishoku. Teishoku is popularly known in Japan as the classic set meal that includes rice, main dish, vegetables, and soup. Teishoku dining is based on the ichiju-issai (or “one soup, one side”).

Aside from Teishoku, Yayoi offers an impressive range of Japanese food from starters, rice meals, a la carte dishes, drinks and desserts. At the moment, there are three branches in the Philippines: one in BGC, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. We have heard that the other branches are really performing well based on the average number of customers dining there daily.

ORDERING VIA iPAD

Yayoi integrates technology into their ordering system by installing iPads in every dining table where customers can select and view the status of their orders. The orders go directly to their kitchen and you can pay the bill at the end of the dinner.

The traditional menu is still available for the not-so-tech-savvy customers. If you want the full description of the food, I suggest you ask for the printed menu. The tablet only displays the photo, name, and price of the food. However, it becomes convenient as it saves you the waiting time for the servers to take your orders.

If you need assistance with your orders or questions about the dish, feel free to call the staff and they’d be willing to guide you.

AMBIANCE

Yayoi has a decent and sleek ambiance. It blends with the sophisticated vibe of the mall. It typifies a legit casual Japanese restaurant with its modern interiors, wooden accents, warm lights, and classy Japanese tableware.

Photo from Yayoi IG

JAPANESE FOOD

My friends and I ordered appetizers, rice meals and Teishoku. With the variety in Yayoi’s menu, it’s not hard to choose your preference despite the unfamiliar names.

Kas and Hazel had Salmon Temari Sushi (Php 295) and Spicy Salmon Roll (Php 395). The difference between the two aside from the spicy flavor is the additional fillings in the latter. Kas liked her plain Salmon roll light and easy, and fresh too. Hazel liked the flavorful stuff inside the Maki, like she did with the Tempura flakes that added texture to the roll.

Spicy Salmon Roll, Php 395
Salmon Temari Roll, Php 295

I had the Tempura Teishoku, (Php 395). It was a too heavy meal that I easily got tired of the Tempura and breaded vegetables. Nakakaumay. The veggies overpowered the shrimps which were only two pieces. I wasn’t able to finish the entire thing, but I loved the Potato salad and Miso soup. I should have ordered the Tempura a la carte instead. 

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Tempura Teishoku, Php 395

Kit and Lorraine ordered Oyako Jyu (Chicken and egg simmered with special sauce and served with rice), Php 325. 

Kit, who has a penchant for Japanese culture and language, finds this rendition as authentic. The egg was not overcooked but fluffy the way it should be, plus the sauce that renders sweet notes was not overwhelming to the palate.

There is no direct translation for Jyu that relates to food, but based on the Kanji text (yes she is that into studying the language) it means nest of boxes or stacked boxes.  So to sum it up, Jyu is Japanese food or Japanese set meal placed in a box. (Comments and corrections are welcome below, hehe.)

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Liz had the Wafu Katsu Jyu (Php 395) or deep-fried pork loin simmered in sauce and eggs, placed over rice. The Katsu was a filling meal, she said.

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Wafu Katsu Jyu, Php 395

Bianca satisfied her appetite with the Mix Toji Teishoku (Php 475) which was a good combo of shrimp, beef gyudon, and breaded pork loin. It was generally okay, she said. The Tonkotsu was notably tender and the beef was not too soggy.

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Mix Toji Teishoku (Php 475)

She also like the Tamago Yaki (Php 150) which was not too sweet compared to other Japanese restaurants. 

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Tamago Yaki, Php 150
Lastly, Mavic had the Yakiniku Jyu (Php 395) or tender slices of beef cooked in Japanese style sauce and served with rice. She finds it too sweet for her liking but maybe others who appreciate sweetened dishes others may tell otherwise. Yakiniku Jyu, Php 395

SERVICE


The staff are pleasant and courteous, the service was quick too. Questions are entertained well.

HIGH END JAPANESE DINNER


Yayoi went extra mile to deliver Japanese cuisine in a non-mediocre way from the aesthetics of food presentation and ambience, efficiency in service, to the aid of technology in ordering. For me, it’s generally satisfactory. It could be bank breaking, but the over-all experience was worth it for me.

I haven’t tried the other branches but BGC was too finesse for a top notch date.

SIDE STORY: KASINTRE


I went to the same school in Elementary with Kasintre. Kasintre is our all-girl group which is a combined term for Kada Sinco and Kada Tres (yes, names for girl cliques are popular then in CSR). I transferred to a different school in junior high but I still maintained closeness with them. Conversations about crushes, love life, school and petty problems have shifted to adulting, married life, bills, and career but it still feels good to laugh with them about the same things. The bond never changed even after decades.


I am just happy and thankful that even if things don’t turn out good in my life, I I know they are one of the people I can run to anytime. 😍

Yayoi Teishoku Restaurant
2nd Floor One Bonifacio Highstreet
BGC, Taguig (new mall beside Philippine Stock Exchange Tower)
Instagram: yayoiph
Facebook: Yayoi Philippines

Best of Twenty Eighteen

I’ve seen this caption every year in Instagram: Best of (insert year). I didn’t join the bandwagon and posted my entry in social media, but I had a short glimpse of it and it was mostly food and travel posts as usual.

It may not be the best year for me, but there’s still something “BEST” to describe about it, whether achievements or failures because life is colorful that way. The best lessons come even from the ugliest of experiences, and that makes life even more meaningful to celebrate each day.

Here are the highlights of my 2018:

1. Blogging

I upgraded my blog from a free domain to personalized one, https://diamondintheroughblog.com. Moving to my own domain improved my branding and more added features became convenient for my blogging. At the first half of the year, I became selective of the events I attended but still collaborated with more brands that widened my circle.

Not only did I meet new friends in blogging, I learned a lot from people of different walks of life and industries. Engaging in the blog posts of other fellow bloggers, I enjoyed gaining new insights from their own personal experiences as well.

I could say I ventured into a higher level of engagement this year with my blog posts: more followers, more organic reaches, more likes, shares and comments — so thanks readers for your support!

2. New Camera

I shared in 2017 that I was devastated by the loss of my Nikon D3300. Early last year, I purchased a new mirrorless camera, Fujifilm XA3. I love that it is very handy and easy to use both for personal and blogging purposes.

3. Travels

Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to different provinces in the country for leisure and work but the best trip of them all is BATANES — my ultimate dream destination.

Also, I will never forget the first-time adventures for me: the sand dunes experience in Ilocos, and also my first surfing in Baler.

4. Passion Workshops

Aside from attending events, I participated in a couple of workshops to hone my skills related to blogging. I attended some seminars hosted by Get Craft such as: Building your Creative Brand and the Challenges you will Face, Conquering your Creative Block, and Who’s Better at Content: Foodies or Food Experts? By the way, these seminars are all free! I guess I was just lucky to be regularly invited after my first registration with them.

5. Investments

Hooray! I’m about to finish the term of an insurance plan by February. In addition to that, my other insurance policy is still on going. Three more years to go, and I’m still planning to invest more because these premiums wouldn’t suffice for my retirement. But of course, one at a time.

The property that my sister and I bought was also turned over to us last November but still more steps and processes have to be made before we move in. I will share this blessing to you guys once it is 100% finished.

6. Losses

Last year was a difficult one for me. Pastor Primo Tabanda, my beloved Pastor since I was 14 years old passed away last November. It was very sad since I already considered him as my second father. Church every Sunday and all occasions would never be the same without him. I had a few regrets since we weren’t as close as before and it dawned on me that our life is really short, the Lord can take it away from us at any moment. It made me reflect about Pastor Tabanda’s teachings and I will be forever grateful he became my Pastor. He taught us a lot about spiritual maturity and that can never be replaced with any material thing.

I also had two failed job applications last year. It was a bit frustrating, yes — but I realized that delays and denials can just be instruments to redirect you to another path.

I’ve also pondered about my decreased work incentives due to a single mistake which caused to me to make a big adjustment in handling my finances. After all, we gain, we lose. Money is just an instrument but of course, it also had a big impact on me.

Having said that, here are my goals for this year:

1. Start a Minimalist Lifestyle.

Traveling is my passion but this year, I hope to minimize my travels to save up for bigger investments. After all, I’ve already traveled to different places to even look for more. This year, I only have one international trip and an out-of-town wedding of a friend to look forward to and I could settle for that except if it is work-related.

I also want to aim on reducing unnecessary spending on not so important stuff (clothes, shoes, eating out) so I can focus on more long-term purchases.

2. Less Time on Social Media

This one has been an overused line but I would like to be serious on this. Less time on social media means doing more productive stuff. Of course, for updating blog posts and sharing them on my FB and Instagram, I would still go online from time to time but not the extent of staying logged- in on Facebook to get updated of the gossips, what’s hot and what’s not.

3. Regularly create more quality content.

I’ve always committed myself to writing quality blog posts, though lengthy. This year, I will continue on that commitment, but this time, on a more frequent basis. Hope I can find a regular cycle of posting regardless of having creativity block.

I guess I have to stop there for now. I will keep my goals for God this year to myself in the meantime, because the commitment is between Him and me and I don’t want to be a stumbling block to other people. 😀

I’m thankful to our Lord God for blessing me with good health, career opportunities, harmonious family and Church family.

To all my readers, thank you for your avid support. To God be the glory forever.

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