Fika by First Gourmet Academy: Ish Eats Manila

When I came across the name FIKA, the Swedish word for coffee break came to mind. I was surprised to find out that Fika in Capitol Green Street served Filipino comfort food classics.

Upon being introduced to Executive Chef Mats Loo and finding out that he is in fact Swedish, I was able to get an explanation. He shared that the restaurant started out as a Starbucks-type cafe. After observing the preferences of their clientele, they revamped the concept and ended up with an “All-Day Menu” of Filipino dishes.

Chef Mats Loo and Chef Mentong Darcen explain the restaurant concept and the food we are about to try.

True it its roots of serving up coffee break dishes, Fika now serves an array of “merienda” classics. After all, merienda is the Filipino version of afternoon tea or a coffee break. We were first offered a hefty bowl of La Paz batchoy. Next, a plate of pancit bihon overflowing with toppings reached our table.

Pancit Bihon (Php160.00)
La Paz Batchoy (Php 125.00)

Both servings were good enough to share between 2-3 people for a light snack. As a main meal, one hungry diner would be more than satisfied with a single serving.

Next up, a steady stream of Filipino dishes started to arrive. The menu does not seem to have a particular inclination towards one particular regional cuisine. We were able to sample chicken inasal (Bacolod), laing (Bicol region) and dinakdakan (Ilocos) among many others.

Clockwise from top: Fika Fried Rice (Php 110.00), Filipino Pork Crackling (Php 115.00), Gising-Gising (Php 120.00), Chicken Inasal (Php 195.00)
Dinakdakan (Php 120.00)
Binagoongang Baboy (Php 215.00), Binagoongan Rice (Php 110), Beef Steak (Php 255.00)

1. FOOD QUALITY: (4.5/5 stars) The restaurant is run by the First Gourmet Academy, a culinary school which operates in the same building. Because of this, everything is made from scratch.  The biggest hits in my group were the breakfast items which included their very own versions of pork tocino, corned beef, and tapa.

Pork Tocino (Php 205)
Corned Beef (Php 225.00)
Beef Tapa (Php235)

Even the desserts were spot on. True to its coffee shop past, Fika still serves up a great selection of cakes and pies.

Overall, the vegetable dishes like the laing and gising-gising were underwhelming and were perhaps the only ones that I would judge to be in need of improvement. In general, I like how they stick to the original recipes and do not try to be trendy by tweaking Filipino classics beyond recognition.

Recommended: pork tocino, pancit bihon, binagoongang baboy, Oreo cheesecake.

3. VALUE FOR MONEY: (5/5 stars) Overpriced restaurants have been popping up all over the metro. With price points between 100-250 for most dishes, Fika is a clear gem. The servings are ample and they do not scrimp on the ingredients. You are definitely getting bang for your buck here.

4. AMBIANCE: (4/5 stars) Nothing beats the golf course views and the amazing sunset that can be seen from both inside the restaurant and in the al fresco seating area. However, it can get really hot in the late afternoon when the sun shines straight into the restaurant as it makes its way down. The airconditioning could also use a big boost.

Sunset view of Capitol Golf Course

Address: Fika Restaurant, Ground Floor, Capitol Green Street, 1 Capitol Hills Drive, Old Balara, Quezon City (Near Gate 1 of Ayala Heights Subd.)

Fika Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato