Cooling Down at Bench Cafe

Have you ever had those days where you just can’t seem to get things right? I don’t know if its the eclipse but some unexplainable power has given me a one-day curse. Funny as it may seem to you all, my dear readers, but today, my luck has totally run out. I have been jinxed by the most powerful supernatural being there is out there.

I walk home feeling so down til I stumble upon this newly-erected Bench Cafe. It’s warm yellow lights allure with me desire like a siren calling a seafarer at sea. I climb the black-painted staircase leading to one of the most charming interiors I have ever laid eyes on.

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Industrial lights reign the ceilings while the walls stand with frames of pastel images and shelves with plastic plants and vintage bottles. Everything is so put together in a very chic, New York-like vibe. When you look down, you’ll notice the tiles with very abstract patterns of black lines connecting with each other from one square to the other.  Then I pan my eyes to my right and see this neon signage that says “Food not feelings” which I should clearly do from here til eternity.

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The wait staff serves me with warm water infused with a citrusy punch. As I peruse the menu I’m holding, I find myself looking back and on both sides to marvel on this new hangout spot.

Bench cafe serves all Filipino dishes. They boast this “glamorized turo-turo” food and “Pinoy-style bentos”.

I decided to order palabok, one of my favorite noodle snacks and their classic halo-halo. I feel like I need to cool my spirit down. Maybe this is the intervention I’m heeding for.

Uncovering Eden - Bench Cafe Pancit Palabok

The food arrived a few minutes later. They serve me palabok with lechon kawali, an egg and spring onions on top. I can barely keep myself from picking the pieces of fried shrimps delicately placed alongside the other garnish.

I twist my fork and slowly circle it to gauge some of the noodle, transfer the food on my small plate and start munching on it like a hungry hippo. The lechon kawali is crisp and tender both at the same time. The first bite feels gritty but the succeeding ones feel like a breeze. The noodle is as thin as an angel’s hair pasta but has managed to hold the flavors in tact. I almost forgot that the serving is meant for two. I am halfway through when I asked the crew if this meal is for sharing.

Uncovering Eden - Bench Cafe Halo-Halo

Then, I begin mixing the halo-halo. The hues of purple devour the once pearl-white crushed ice. Little by little, I take it in — bits and pieces. The creaminess of the ube ice cream makes it seem like the halo-halo is an actual frozen treat. The sweet flavor of leche flan adds a more tingly feeling to my every bite. After a few minutes, I reached the bottom of the cup while my mouth still craves for it. I want to order one more but it’s night time and I want to keep my strict diet as my resolution. Said no one ever.

I guess Bench Cafe has really honed the craft of creating sumptuous foods straight from the get-go. The thoughts of “I would like to come back the next day and order the other food off the menu that I have not ordered the previous night.” was very much felt as I walk out of their cafe.

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I get my phone out and started to create this article. Maybe it’s some kind of an intervention by the universe because the words just keep on flowing.

And as I draft this on my way home, deeply staring at the moon as the Earth’s shadow casts over it, I cannot help but wonder, “Do we really hold our own destiny or should we depend on some cosmic power to make us who they want us to be?”