New Restaurant Alert: Little Bear Diner at Kapitolyo, Pasig City
This quaint hangout makes more than glorious grilled cheese sandwiches.
Little Bear Diner
23 East Capitol Drive, Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Contact: 0917-558-1491, 0916-426-8783
Open from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Saturday), 12 p.m. to 2:30 pm and 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) Don’t fret if you missed Little Bear Diner’s unlimited grilled cheese sandwiches promo in April. The cozy diner’s Melt Collective—which is what they call their selection of grilled cheese sandwiches—is here to stay and each variant packs a mean punch.
It looks like a very trendy, very quirky home.
“We started selling these sandwiches at the Legazpi Sunday Market,” explains Chef Bear Pau Pastor, a self-taught cook, who heads kitchen duties at Little Bear. “At that time, we had around 13 to 15 kinds. The ones on the Melt Collective are the ones people kept coming back to.”
One bite of the best-selling Popper (P215) is enough for us to get into the hype. The crunchiness of the bread's surface is a perfect complement to the warm, gooey core—that's a blend of American cheddar, cream cheese, mozzarella, and pickled jalapeños. This sandwich says it all: restraint clearly isn’t part of the kitchen crew’s vocabulary, but they know how to make you enjoy the indulgence. Have it with a handful of chips or a bowl of creamy, roasted tomato soup.
“We don’t want to limit ourselves to just these sandwiches,” says Little Bear general manager Mela Acuin. “We want to do [other] things that excite us, other things that we eat.” Pau then came up with other ways to express their motto of "indulgent comfort food," taking inspiration from different types of cuisine.
Begin your Little Bear spree with some TNT Wings (P270), a Thai-inspired starter that marries contrasts with a taba ng talangka caramel sauce, spiced peanuts, cilantro, and orange zest. You'd expect the talangka to leave a fishy aftertaste, but the flavor is significantly toned down thanks to the caramel. Another option is the Spicy Toro (P230), a dynamic fusion of Japanese favorites such as asahi tuna belly sashimi, nori chips, and spicy mayo. Each bite starts with a powerful crunch and ends with a bold zing.
Spam Kimchi Rice
Then, when you’re ready for their all-day brunch specials, have your pick from dishes that combine the familiar with the surprising. The Spam Kimchi Rice (P320) is a colorful jumble of a subtly spicy rice base topped with sweet panko-crusted Spam, a sous-vide egg, and some pickle slices.
Smoked Salmon Pancakes
Other must-tries are the Smoked Salmon Pancakes (P295) and the Churros Toast (245), which are ace gastronomic delights that you won't find elsewhere. The former features two fluffy pancakes slathered with a cream cheese-crème fraiche spread and topped with fresh Norwegian salmon slices and caviar. The latter, meanwhile, a cross between sweet and savory, is an Instagram-worthy dish made up of thick brioche toasts, adorned with Vietnamese cinnamon sugar and Little Bear’s homemade vanilla bean ice cream. For a diversion in flavor, have your toast with some spiced Malagos dark chocolate sauce that is delicious whether you drizzle, drink, or dip.
Sweet & Salty
Their dessert selection also impresses—the Sweet & Salty (P235), in particular, takes center stage. The hot plate serves as a stage for a half-baked Belgian chocolate chip cookie that’s topped with pretzels, a gummy salted caramel sauce, and a generous scoop of handcrafted ice cream. “This dish is the perfect example of how we add balance to our dishes,” Pau explains. “You can find here hot and cold, sweet and salty, crunchy and soft. It’s really a celebration of flavors and textures.”
Wash everything down with refreshing sips of their floats (P105/each), which come in Root Beer or Orange Creamsicle.
Mela admits that while Little Bear may be fairly new to Kapitolyo's bustling food game, just like the constellation—Little Bear also refers to the Little Dipper—being tiny doesn't make them irrelevant. We definitely concur.
Photos by Hans Fausto