Bread and Botany
2/F The Prime Building, 115 Aguirre Avenue, Parañaque City
Open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) The fried chicken is a literal labor of love. When Jonathan Choi, owner of neighboring third-wave coffee shop Magnum Opus, was trying to make Bread and Botany owner Kristine Ongsiyping fall in love with him, he would cook her family meals at their house. In 2014, he stumbled upon a recipe for Korean fried chicken, which turned out to be so good, the pair cooked it that Christmas. Now, it's on the menu of this newly opened sandwich shop, a recipe that's been practiced and perfected for nearly two years.
Family Meal with chicken
Mac and Cheese (P160)
Liver Mousse with Fried Shallots (P180)
Get the Family Meal (P380) so you can enjoy two orders of crispy fried chicken and two orders of kyuchimi fries.
Kyuchimi. It's a Bread and Botany invention, their reimagining of the Shichimi Togarachi, a seven-spice mixture common to Japan. Jonathan and Kristine, however, add juniper and peppercorn to the mix, making it a nine or “kyu” spice blend. The result is a really spicy flavor that gives an extra punch to their dishes. Customers can choose to have their chicken be cooked classic or spiced with kyuchimi. Recently, they experimented with an 85% cocoa + kyuchimi ice cream, which they documented on social media.
Funny enough, the chicken is not the highlight of the Bread and Botany experience. Anything that doesn't fall under "sandwich" is delegated as a "side" and the real star is what they can do with bread.
The restaurant's name sounds like it could be an herbal-themed bakery and in these gluten-free, organic times, the idea doesn’t seem far off. Jonathan, however, explains that they're really a sandwich shop (hence, bread) that just happens to sell gin (hence, botany—because gin is made of botanicals) after hours.
Bread and Botany's sandwich menu offers a very compact list of familiar names, but all rendered with a special twist. The Mr. McEgg (P220), for example, is a “sit-down dinner” take on the Egg McMuffin, one of the most popular breakfast items at McDonald's. Homemade bread (custom-made especially for the restaurant) is toasted perfectly and smothered with a maple syrup glaze—a crunchy bite followed by a softer chew. Filled with Canadian bacon, steamed egg, cheese, and caramelized onions, Mr. McEgg is a sweet and savory homage to its fast food predecessor.
The Tori Sando (P230) is a variation on Japan’s katsu sando. Instead of serving pork katsu, the shop serves boneless skin-on chicken thighs hugged by Asian-style coleslaw, then all enveloped in toasted white sandwich bread
If you look through Bread and Botany's selection, you'll notice that all of their ingredients are freshly prepared and creatively assembled. “I just wanted something that used wholesome ingredients,” Jonathan explains. “Not something that’s frozen, [or] something that wasn’t prepared in advance. But something freshly cooked or freshly toasted.”
Best seats in the house
Fresh is best
He is no stranger to having fun with the menu. “I cook with science,” he says. Concocting the drinks in his third-wave coffee shops Magnum Opus and Restock involves chemistry and putting together the wide range of flavors in Bread and Botany’s offerings involved a lot of experimentation, as well. Bread and Botany makes around 90% of their own ingredients, from the tonics for the gin down to the ketchup served with the sides.
“The food is heavy, so we wanted to pair it with something light, slightly fizzy, and refreshing,” Jonathan explains. Currently, Bread and Botany serves around 10 different permutations of gin and tonic, which range from the crisp and citrusy classics to the experimental drinks. Gin and tonic with strawberry and black pepper, anyone?
Ingredients are seasonal and the kitchen buys fruits and herbs from the market daily. One of the G&Ts available at the moment is the Plymouth gin (P380) with B&B Marsala tonic, a sweet, warm mix boosted with fresh strawberries and cracked black pepper.
Lemonade Tonic (P180)
For dessert, Bread and Botany returns to Jonathan’s coffee beginnings to develop delicious sweets. They managed to develop their own kind of soft-serve custard, using Magnum Opus’ milk to create a milk base instead of the usual vanilla. The Coffee Soft-Serve (P150) is a combination of milk ice cream, coffee jelly from Magnum Opus’ own cold brew, and a dusting of espresso grounds. Customers have said that it reminds them of Magnum Opus’ Flat White.
Chocolate ice cream
The shop also serves chocolate ice cream (P150), made of 65% Malagos chocolate and cacao nibs. It’s a throwback to the “magic shell” type of crunchy desserts, but with cacao nibs instead of pinipig.
Bread and Botany is still feeling its way around, and the current customer base is a mix of friends, family, and Magnum Opus regulars. Jonathan hesitates to give an exact date on when they'll be working full swing. Great scientific inventions can’t be rushed, after all.
Photos by Majoy Siason