STROLLING around Kapalong has definitely changed through the years. I remember as high school students before, I and my friends are limited to snacking at bakeries or lunching at local carenderias near the school. Today as college students and young professionals, everyone seems to go back home as this new go-to place in my little banana town in the north opens to the public.
They call it, Meraki Gastro Hub. People are gushing to this small yet homey space along Quirino Street in Maniki because of the good food that’s affordable to everyone and that relaxing vibe you get to feel as you walk through their place styled in Rustic Farmhouse interior.
Prices start at P85.00 with their Taco Chicken Wrap but my personal favorites are Bibimbap and Tonkatsu. I love how the beef is grounded to tiny bits and yet still have that flavor you seek for in a Bibimbap, along with their freshly-cut vegetables and home-made sauce that goes well with everything. If you’re a meat-lover like me, you also have to try their Tonkatsu! I like it because it’s fried just right, not too crispy but not soft either - just the type that would crack a crunch upon bite and then you would taste the pork after. And oh, they also serve it generously so you won’t go “bitin” with your rice bowl.
About the place, which is, by the way, A-okay Instagram-worthy, has that Central Perk feels (yes that coffee house in our parent’s favorite TV Series Friends). You could pick a couch or a wooden stool or that huge bench good for group dining and still look fab on your photos. Full house is at 50 seats, so if you’re into some intimate hosting, you can book this place for a day.
They just opened about a month ago, and customers have been pouring in since, probably because of the calm atmosphere that they try to keep.
Twenty-two-year-old Chef Ynna Ombrosa, who owns the place, shared she indeed wants the people to be at home when they dine in Meraki. “They get to eat the food that we started to develop and improve at home, and we made the place as comfortable as their homes too.”
Meraki is actually placed in the owner’s front lawn, which explains why it has that comfortable vibe of home. Ynna shared that as their banana plantation, their family’s main source of income has been devastated by Typhoon Pablo and stricken by Panama Disease, they’re left with no option but to convert their terrace to a restaurant and start working.
She shared that putting up Meraki has been so easy for her and her parents, Jennifer and Joris.
“Everyone around us we’re happy that finally, we’re having something like this in Kapalong. Everyone around us seemed to help us put this business fast.”
“I’m glad that business is doing well. There are already fillers who want to partner and franchise which to me is very inspiring kasi novice pa kami but people already believe in us,” Ynna said.
With the good feedback they’re getting, Ynna and her parents are planning to bring in more tables and add more on their menu. The last I checked, they were prepping up some tables with built-in cooking ranges/hot pots possibly for shabu-shabu or Korean BBQ. We’ll know on our next visit! See you there folks!