I have to admit, when I got invited by Zomato Philippines to a foodie meet-up at Nikko’s Baking Studio in Urdaneta, Makati, what got me to say “yes” was the word “baking” because it meant I’d get to have some sort of baked dessert. I had no idea the place existed before then, so all I had to hold on to was the idea of at least finishing whatever meal we were about to have with something sweet.
Nikko’s is primarily a school that teaches baking, according to restaurant owner Nikko Buendia (yes, she’s related to the man after whom Makati’s Buendia Avenue is named). She never even considered having a restaurant, didn’t want one, in fact. But when people came around asking if she sold food, she began entertaining the idea by serving recipes that have been in her family for years. Everything in the menu is something either she had gotten from family members, or food she likes to cook for her kids.
The vibe at Nikko’s is – how can I put it? – a combination of warm and homey, and Pinterest-ready. The furniture is rusticly mismatched, the walls are decorated with Nikko’s mom’s paintings, and the menu is scrawled on chalkboard. In other words, get your phones ready for some clicking action. The place is pretty small – it looks like it can only accommodate about 25 people at a time – so reservations are encouraged.
We started our meal with Truffle Chips (Php180) with a garlic, cheese, and sour cream dip. The chips are crispy and lightly seasoned so it doesn’t fight the savory dip. Later on, a plate of Chorizo Empanada Kaliskis (Php220/2 pcs) also made it to our table. You can really taste the chorizo once you bite into the nice, flaky crust, but the oiliness was pretty overwhelming, so finishing even half was a challenge to me. To wash down the appetizers (and the meal to come), they poured us some light, refreshing pandan iced tea (Php90).
Then we got to the mains. The Callos (Php290) was my favorite dish, with its tender chunks of meat and great flavor.
The Cheesy Meat Lasagna (Php270) did deliver what its moniker promised, but it failed in other aspects to me. It was sweet (probably because it’s a recipe Nikko prepares for her kids) and the noodles were overcooked.
On the flip side, I thought the Lucban Longganisa Pasta (Php270) was pretty good. Loaded with longganisa flavor and nicely al dente, this was the better pasta dish of the two.
The Chicken Pastel (Php280) contained tough pieces of poultry, though the dish was creamy and nicely seasoned.
The Boracay Chori Burger’s (Php180) most interesting asset was the touch of wasabi mayo, but I found it hard to get past the way-too-salty burger patty.
After we gorged on the savories, we finally got to the part I was waiting for: dessert. Nikko served us some of the most popular baked sweets on the menu: Leche Flan Cake, Calamansi Pie, Kahlua Mocha Cake, and Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake (cakes and pies are priced per whole order).
The Leche Flan Cake had a nice texture (the flan was creamy and the sponge cake soft) and wasn’t too sweet.
I wasn’t really feeling the Calamansi Pie; I thought the flavor was too weird (might be more appealing to people who enjoy key lime pie). I did like the semi-crunchy, slightly salty crust, though.
I was expecting more from the Kahlua Mocha Cake. After all, it’s also known as “The Pope’s Cake” after Pope Francis himself gave it his seal of approval when he tried it during his visit to the Philippines. One bite revealed it was just a mocha cake, plain and simple. Not saying it was bad; it was pretty good, actually. Just don’t expect to hear the “Hallelujah” chorus while eating it.
My top dessert pick would have to be the Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. It was soft without being too crumbly, very decadent, and had a bit of a salted caramel flavor.
So… while the place was pretty charming and the thought of serving family favorites endearing, the flavors generally left a lot to be desired. I don’t really feel the rush to come back anytime soon, though if I were to go back there, it would be for that callos and chocolate cake.
Overall rating: ★★★☆☆
Nikko’s Baking Studio
59-A Paseo de Roxas Street, Urdaneta, Makati City
Disclosure: This visit was organized by the restaurant’s management in cooperation with Zomato Philippines. The opinions expressed in this post are based on my own experience and were in no way influenced by said groups.
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