Food & Drink

8 Delicious Creations You Need to Try At the New Bench Café

Bench's fresh and flavorful take on local cuisine is a treat for all the senses.
IMAGE SANDY ARANAS
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On the second floor of Bench’s Fort Bonifacio flagship, you’ll find the newly-opened Bench Café—with the brand’s heritage perfectly relayed from the Filipino-themed menu down to the décor.

Though the café uses fresh cooking techniques and exciting presentations, Eric Dee of FooDee maintains the menu is filled with no-fuss classic Filipino dishes that will be instantly familiar to Bench consumers.



The café brings together leading names from different industries and areas of expertise: culinary group FooDee Global Concepts, veteran chef Carlo Miguel, liquid chef Kalel Demetrio, interior designer Miguel Pastor, and, of course, Bench founder Ben Chan.

With Bench’s international reach, we have no doubt the café will be seminal in promoting Filipino cuisine.

Here are some of the dishes you must try:

1. Tinapa Cones


The Tinapa Cone is a three-piece layered snack with moussed tinapa and Filipino-style salsa (made with kamatis, sibuyas, and itlog na maalat), contained in a homemade crispy lumpia cone. “It’s meant for you to have it in two bites. So, after you take one bite, there’s another layer of salsa in the middle,” says Dee.

2. Binagoongan Caesar with Dilis Salad


Bench serves a Filipino version of Caesar salad using Romaine lettuce with dilis and croutons tossed with a creamy mix of bagoong and queso de bola dressing.

3. Sisig Skillet


Sisig, a staple on Filipino tables, is updated with a perfectly cooked 62°C egg and calamansi foam. The flavor of the crispy pork mask and belly is highlighted by the additions, creating a new yet familiar taste.

4. Crispy Dinuguan


To update the Filipino favorite, Bench Café tops the rich pork blood sauce with crispy fried pork innards and mask. These all add a crispy factor that delights all the way to the last spoonful.

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5. Bongalmusal Silog


Don't take our word for it. The beauty of the Bongalmusal Silog is experienced better in real life. When first presented, you’ll see a spectacular mix of Filipino favorites: a large serving of garlic rice surrounded by U.S. Angus beef tapa, Spam, tocino, daing na bangus, and corned beef, all topped with vinegar foam.

6. Malunggay Pasta


To fully incorporate the flavor of malunggay, Bench Café starts with the pasta itself. The malunggay is used to create the pasta which is then topped with a flavorful malunggay pesto and finished with adobo tomato and kesong puti.

7. BENCH/TO


Salted Egg Fried Chicken, Pinaputok na Bangus Belly, and Tortang Talong

The BENCH/TO is something unique to the café. The group wanted to introduce something new to the menu that would differentiate Bench Café from other Filipino restaurants, and so, the BENCH/TO was conceptualized. The concept is simply an adapted version of the Japanese bento box, a packed set meal.

There are 10 BENCH/TO selections with options such as Inasal na Liempo and Gising Gising; Lechon Kawali and Pinakbet; Dancing Fish and Gising Gising; Chicken Pork Adobo and Tortang Talong; Bagnet Kare Kare with Bagoong and Tortang Talong; Crispy Tadyang and Pinakbet; Salted Egg Fried Chicken, Pinaputok na Bangus Belly, and Tortang Talong; Hipon sa Talangka, Honey Patis Chicken and Gising Gising; Beef Kaldereta, Inasal Liempo, and Pinakbet; U.S. Angus Short Ribs Bistek, Inihaw na Pusit, and Gising Gising.


Salted Egg Fried Chicken; U.S. Angus Short Ribs Bistek

All BENCH/TO’s come with Filipino-style salsa, atsara, and steamed Ifugao rice. Rice is, of course, a large part of the meal—so much so that it’s a fully upgradeable option. Diners have the choice between Garlic Rice, Dilis Rice, Bagoong Rice, and Talangka Rice which range from P10 to P40.

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8. Halo-Halo


Desserts aren’t an afterthought at Bench Café. There’s Mais Con Yelo, Banana Con Yelo, Tsoknut Ice Cream Sandwich, and Flan B. One of the real highlights of Bench Café is its Halo-Halo. In keeping with the café’s fresh and flavorful take on local cuisine, the Halo-Halo is made with finely shaved ice similar to a Korean bingsu.

The café has three versions of the Filipino favorite: White Halo-Halo, with coconut shaved ice with macapuno, garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan, nata de coco, and coconut ice cream. Classic Halo-Halo, with coconut shaved ice, macapuno, garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan, ube halaya, palm bean, nata de coco, and ube ice cream. The café also decided to bank on the ube trend by creating the Ube Halo-Halo, with ube shaved ice with macapuno, garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan, nata de coco, and coconut ice cream.

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Paolo Chua
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