The moon finally rises and gives Binondo a little glisten. I can barely walk straight as the wind starts to kiss my skin with its cool breezes.
We find ourselves standing in front of a busy restaurant. With yellowish and neon signage lights, it comes alive as the darkness around it can’t seem to engulf it. Sounds of glasses brushing against the ceramic plates and chatters of people fill the four corners of the room. We climb the stairs to reach our final food stop for the night.
We get inside a room with a dimmer lighting. Purple neon lights are surround the darkened corners. Outside, I can see blue red and yellow faint lights silently going on and off that makes the view look more dreamy. I try to sit on a cramped up space against the wall. Again, for the nth time this day, I am sitting beside a stranger. What’s good about this is that I can be a little grounded with every move.
I see a familiar face in front of me. Someone whose travel blog I have been following for the longest time — my end goal. I keep pacing left and right to see more familiar faces. And yes, I am right. They are almost all here. The people I have been dreaming to work with my whole life.
Then out of the blue, the heiress of Eng Bee Tin, Ms. Roch Chua, walks in with the gentlest smile on her face. She starts to talk about how her father’s renowned chain of desserts went on to becoming one, his past struggles and how Cafe Mezzanine was built.
And of course, while she’s talking, I cautiously hand out my camera and start photographing quietly (I don’t want to make sudden noises that would interrupt her from her speech.) The thought of living like this runs back and forth inside my head. Meeting people with the same dreams and interests like mine fuels me more. For the first time, I can picture myself doing something I love for a long time.
I slid the camera beside me. It’s time to eat. I lift the fork and pick up a piece of buchi, a rolled sweet treat of glutinous rice with sesame seeds on its exterior. It’s how every buchi tastes like, sweet, a little sticky but does the job of filling your tummy because its really heavy and compact.
Kiam Pong, another rice meal, composed of sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, meats and peanuts (on some occasions) is served on our dinner table. I can’t eat any more rice past 6 PM (a practice I am hardly practicing, but still tells people I do). So, with a heavy heart, I skip this one for the meantime. The next time I go here, this one will be on the top of my to-order-list.
Ms. Chua insists us to try their lava pao, a dessert bun filled with salted egg and custard. Its surprise is when the mixed flavors of sweet and salty finally hits your taste buds. It’s indescribable, almost. If you’re looking for the nirvana of desserts, maybe this one’s it. You really have to try it out. I am urging everyone who will read this to go to Cafe Mezzanine and order yourself a piece of heaven. This is not an exaggeration. It is that good.
A good night, I believe, should have a combination of great people over some good food. And tonight, I got both. All of the food stops exceeded my expectations. I wrote down “good” but it should also be “great”, as well. The variety of the delicacies we have tasted today is not something I would have tried on an ordinary day. Love that Cafe Mezzanine is our last stop for the night. Finally, our drained bodies found somewhere to retire, with a calming ambiance and a rather relaxing illumination.
Everyone should have a MacLaren’s Pub or Central Perk of their own. Go out and discover secret hideaways for yourself if you want some lone time or a place where you and your friends can hangout and talk about how your lives are currently going.
Address: 650 Ongpin St, Binondo, Manila, Metro Manila