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MANILA, Philippines – Just along C. Raymundo Avenue in Pasig City, an unassuming little café is tucked away at the very edge of a commercial building. While arguably easy to miss, those who have been lucky enough to stumble upon it know full well of the magic that happens within the walls of this brick and mortar shop called Likhang Harina.
It started out with its owner Janna Lim’s newfound love for baking over the pandemic. Lim was a marketing head in the food and beverage industry. When every restaurant was forced to shut down indefinitely, she was left wondering what else life had in store for her. That is, until she discovered sourdough.
Early beginnings: a new chapter
A friend who wanted to start baking sourdough bread suggested she do the same. Despite her initial hesitation, Lim gave in.
Baking for fun quickly became an everyday affair for the former marketing manager in 2020, so much so that she eventually ran out of friends and family to send bread to. While moving on to selling her creations to the public was the next path to take, doubts plagued the now-chef again.
“Syempre, no’ng una, iniisip ko na hindi naman ako bread baker…. When I started baking during the pandemic, it wasn’t that I felt na gagawin ko siya for the money. Umabot lang siya sa point na I’m very passionate about it,” Lim said.
(Of course, at the start, I was thinking that I’m not even a bread baker.… When I started baking during the pandemic, it wasn’t that I felt that I would do it for the money. It just reached the point where I’m very passionate about it).
It wasn’t long until Lim decided to leave her marketing job for good in 2020 to manage Likhang Harina full-time. Lim knew she had found her calling, so she decided to enter culinary school to hone her craft even further. With a newly earned culinary degree under her belt, it became clear that her love for baking was bound for bigger things.
Bread for everyone
Impressively, the 33-year-old has single-handedly built the sourdough empire Likhang Harina is known for today. It is currently one of the go-to spots for sourdough bread, cookies, and coffee for people all around Metro Manila and even nearby provinces in the south.
The widespread appeal for this café’s goods is clear-cut. But what makes Likhang Harina’s items so special in the first place is its unique ability to be enjoyed by any set of taste buds for a relatively low price point. Bonus: most of their sourdough loaves are vegan-friendly!
Jalapeño Cheddar (P380) is best for those who are looking for a sharp kick to accompany a selection of other toppings, but if you’re looking for a more fiber-rich experience, Seeded Buckwheat (P350) is loaded with chia seeds and gluten-free golden flaxseeds.
Meanwhile, Cranberry Walnut (P360) strikes a balance between sweet, sour, and salty at the same time. For those who prefer a more classic take on sourdough, the Country (P275) and Rye (P300) options are the way to go.
“Bread is literally for any nationality. And it’s so versatile that you can do anything with it, lalo na (especially) with sourdough bread. And [sourdough] is a healthy alternative compared to mass-produced bread because you’re only using flour, water, and salt, and that’s it. And the yeast na ginagamit mo (that you use), it’s also natural,” explained the chef.
Although guilt always seems to follow satisfaction when consuming bread – which is commonly known to be high in carbohydrates – Likhang Harina’s sourdough bread is here to change that. Lim knew she wanted to tap into all markets when she first started selling her bread, so each item on the menu is a nod to the foundation Likhang Harina was built on.
“When I created Likhang Harina, I wanted to make sure that everyone could have bread na hindi gano’n ka-sinful that isn’t that sinful)…. I don’t want people to feel like sobra silang nagche-cheat (they’re cheating a lot) when they’re eating bread, kaya sourdough ang naisip ko (so I thought of sourdough),” Lim shared.
With her diverse customer base now consisting of athletes, people with dietary restrictions and food allergies, and even those who have health issues, it’s become apparent that Lim has fulfilled that. It has even come to the point that every kind of sourdough bread Likhang Harina offers sells out daily!
“Magrerelease na rin ako ng macros ng bread (I’m going to release macros for the bread) because people have been asking for it. I want to be very transparent to everyone because I want them to feel na worth it naman ‘yung nabili nila (what they bought is worth it),” she added.
The fun doesn’t stop at sourdough bread
While Likhang Harina is more known for its sourdough bread, its coffee, shokupan, and sourdough cookies are in leagues of their own. Even though these sub-menus have limited options, their quality definitely merits the revenue they produce for the Pasig café.
Likhang Harina only offers four options for hot coffee and three options for iced coffee – but for a good reason. The coffee menu is kept short to not overwhelm customers when choosing a drink, and to ensure the café’s baristas aren’t overworked either.
A limited selection may seem like a disadvantage, but in this case, less is more. The coffee is roasted for just the right amount of time, allowing it to completely avoid the sour or ashy taste coffee sometimes produces when prepared incorrectly.
Americano (P100 hot; P110 cold), Flat White (P120 hot; P130 cold), and Spanish Latte (P150 hot; P160 cold) can all be ordered hot or iced, while the Cappuccino (P120) is only available as a hot beverage. All of these drinks have no added sugar, so if you’re looking for a sweeter caffeine rush, their Spanish Latte – which is made with condensed milk – is your best bet.
Interestingly, sourdough is also a vital component to Likhang Harina’s cookies. This simple yet unusual ingredient is what gives the café’s Dark Choco Chip Cookie (P50) and Oatmeal Choco Cookie (P65) their ideal chewy texture. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make the cookies taste sour.
Likhang Harina’s two milk bread options are also en route to becoming crowd favorites like their sourdough counterparts. While they do contain dairy and sugar, the Yama Shokupan (P250) and Matcha Yama Shokupan (P280) are perfect for those who enjoy light and fluffy bread.
With its carefully curated menu, Likhang Harina is undeniably one of the best hidden gems in Pasig that’s here to stay. Although its current location is already well-loved among Pasigueños and those nearby, Lim is looking to open more branches in other Metro Manila cities and possibly even pick-up points for customers in the south.
Until then, online orders are available for customers who can’t visit Likhang Harina’s physical shop. – Rappler.com
Likhang Harina is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm. It is located at JG Building along C. Raymundo Avenue, Barangay Maybunga, Pasig City. You can also place orders online by directly messaging them on Instagram or sending them a message via Whatsapp or Viber at 0969-042-6662.