WATCH: Manila’s first Hello Kitty Cafe is both pretty and yummy

Amanda T. Lago
WATCH: Manila’s first Hello Kitty Cafe is both pretty and yummy
Eat, drink, and take lots of photos at this new cafe in BGC

MANILA, Philippines – If you’re a fan of Hello Kitty, or are just perpetually on the hunt for new #foodstagrams for your IG feed, the newly opened Hello Kitty Cafe in Bonifacio Global City may just be your next playground. The cafe is the first of its kind in Manila, though another Kitty-themed cafe can be found in Pampanga. 

The aesthetic appeal of this restaurant is obvious even from outside, drawing in diners, Hello Kitty fan or not. The pastel color scheme, French-inspired motif, and gold decor will take you out of the busy Metro Manila mall and into a dreamy cartoon fantasy world that looks like a kawaii version of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

JE NE SAIS KAWAII. The cafe's interiors are a blend of Japanese cuteness and French sophistication. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

You’ll be compelled to take photos as soon as you walk in – the gold birdcage booths are particularly Instagram-able. And then there’s the food. Each dish takes between 5 to 10 minutes to plate, and you’ll understand why when you see them.

Every dish that comes out of their kitchen has a touch of Hello Kitty on it, from the drinks and cakes, to the soups and salads – and even the burgers and pastas. Whether it’s her signature bow, her face stamped on the bread, or a simple Hello Kitty print-out on the rim of a glass, Sanrio’s best-loved character is everywhere.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cuteness of the food, but the dishes taste good too.

SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE. The classic pasta dish is served with a side of Sanrio by way of Kitty-printed ham. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

Their bestseller is the creamy pink carbonara (P389), which is popular for its color – because really, where else but in a Hello Kitty Cafe can you get pink pasta? They also serve a meaty spaghetti bolognese (P359), which has Hello Kitty’s face printed on the ham and toast the comes with it.

ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP. Start your meal right with this belly-warmer, topped with bacon bits and blue pea flowers. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

Also on the menu are several kinds of soups and salads. You can try the roasted pumpkin soup (P185), which is perfectly creamy and has a subtle turmeric kick. Garnished with blue pea flowers, alfalfa sprouts, and a Kitty-shaped piece of pumpkin, it’s a hearty and filling dish to start your meal with.

SALAD MAISON. This dish manages to be both light and filling. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

Another dish to try is the Salad Maison (P395), whether as a starter or as your main order. It may be light, but it’s certainly satisfying. There’s an interesting play of textures here. You get a satisfying crunch from the sliced almonds, creamy smoothness from the feta cheese, and a pleasant chewiness from the raisins. Things on the flavor front are just as interesting, with burst of sweetness from the grapes (meticulously shaped into rosettes), a smoky, salty kick from the grilled chicken chunks, an herby tang from the raspberry vinaigrette, and an overall crisp freshness – because it is still a salad, after all.

BURGERESSE. A Kitty-embossed brioche bun sandwiches a juicy quarter pounder and onion rings. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

For something heavier, they also serve the Burgeresse (P499). The price may seem steep, but it can be split between two people with moderate appetites. It’s your basic quarter pounder with cheese, topped with crispy onion rings and served on a brioche bun. It also comes with a side of fries (P110), which you can order separately.

BISKIES. The Crinkle Biskie (L) and Choco Chips Biskie (R) are as sweet as they are pretty. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

The sweets are perhaps the cafe’s main attraction, and if you’re dining with kids, they will no doubt drag you to the colorful cake display, which has an array of desserts that are almost too pretty to eat. If you have a serious chocolate craving, the Crinkle Biskie (P199) will definitely satisfy. It’s two chocolate crinkle cookies with some chocolate cream and chocolate malt balls in the middle, topped off with more chocolate cream, a strawberry, and Kitty’s pink bow.

CRINKLE BISKIE. This treat is an indulgent tower of chocolate. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

The Choco Chips Biskie (P179) is less indulgent, but just as delicious – two chocolate chip cookies with a strawberry cream filling, more strawberry cream on top, and a light strawberry drizzle.

CHOCO CHIPS BISKIE. This treat is a fruity twist on cookies and cream. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

The Biskies are especially photogenic, served on mini cake stands wrapped with a pink ribbon and encased in a birdcage-shaped food cover.

WHITE TRUFFLE KIRSCH. The desiccated coconut is a welcome touch to this sweet dessert. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

They also have the white truffle kirsch (P399), which is two layers of pillow-soft mousse filled with cherry liqueur. The sweetness of this dessert is rather cloying, though the smattering of desiccated coconut tempers the sweetness somewhat.

MANGO CHARLOTTE. This dainty dessert may just be the prettiest thing on the cafe's menu. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

Another sweet treat is the Mango Charlotte (P519): layers of mango and sponge cake, coated with a mango glaze and encased in a circle of ladyfingers. Topped with fondant flowers and a white chocolate Hello Kitty, and plated with a birdcage lantern and pink flowers, it’s probably the prettiest dish on the menu. It’s also one among several cakes that come in a bigger size (P1,999) – good for birthdays or any other celebration that calls for an incredible amount of cuteness on the table.

FIZZY DRINKS. The Fizzy Blue (L) and the Fizzy Cherry (R) are colorful and fruity. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

As for drinks, you can try the Fizzy Blue (P105) or Fizzy Cherry (P105), which are fruity sodas that go well with any of the main meals. If you want something to pair with the cakes or cookies, you can try the matcha green tea frappe (P295), or, for something simpler, the cafe latte (P105), which features Kitty in the latte art, of course.

MATCHA GREEN TEA FRAPPE. This creamy drink is a pastel dream. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

The menu was inspired by French cuisine, and is unique from menus of other Hello Kitty Cafe branches around the world. Every dish was carefully styled, with the presentation of each dish approved by Sanrio.

CAFE LATTE. Of course there's latte art, and of course it's Hello Kitty. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/ Rappler

The Hello Kitty Cafe is every foodstagrammer’s dream. And indeed, the main reason for going may be for the photogenic everything. What’s great about this cafe, though, is that you walk in expecting a lot of cute food photos – and walk out getting exactly that, plus satisfied tastebuds and a full tummy to boot. As it turns out, contrary to popular belief, style doesn’t have to come at the cost of substance.

The Hello Kitty Cafe had its soft opening on July 21, and is set to have its grand opening in September. It is located on the 3rd floor of the Uptown Mall in Bonifacio Global City.

Is your mind racing with thoughts of Hello Kitty-themed food? Let Uber take you there for less.

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.