New Restaurant Alert: Cafe Aquatica at Promenade, San Juan
Enjoy lunch...in a jungle under the sea
Promenade Mall, Greenhills, San Juan City
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Saturday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) Café Aquatica reminds you of your childhood days walking in a Chinese restaurant and browsing through its aquariums. The concept coffee shop doesn’t offer Chinese dishes. Instead, their specialty aquariums are lined up around the restaurant, creating something of a jungle; bigger aquariums even feature handcrafted waterfalls, while the sound of twittering birds blast through invisible speakers.
Amuse yourself with the aquariums.
It gives you a different kind of excitement from when you were seven—and not because these tanks aren't filled with fish, eel, and shrimp being prepped for you-know-what. One side serves owner Kenbert Chua’s childhood favorite dishes. The other side is an aquarium and fish shop. Café Aquatica is the only store in the city that sells Premium Dragon Betta from a champion line and the award-winning hybrid Aro-betta. The fish ranges from P1,800 to P3,500, while custom aquariums go from P28,000 to P68,000. They can replicate scenes from films like Avatar and Wrong Turn. Looking through the merchandise is a cool way to pass time as you wait for your order.
Rosa's Trio of Sliders
When it comes to food, one of their bestsellers is Rosa’s Trio of Sliders (P295). The recipe for the homemade pork patties comes from Kenbert’s mother Rosa and it’s been a family favorite since 1975. Every bite is sweet and fragrant, with a light kick that prevents it from feeling too heavy.
Each slider features a different flavor: the first is a classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato; the second adds a layer of grilled pineapple for a smoky flavor; and the last puts cucumber and cheese with the pork. Café Aquatica uses pan de sal for buns, making the sliders fluffier and also more homey and comforting.
Bagnet Chips with Rice
Another favorite is the Bagnet Chips with Rice (P195), which comes with a gooey sunny side-up egg, a mixed dip of vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar, and a Pinoy salsa with tomatoes and onion bits. The bacon-cut pork belly is paired with garlic-and-leek fried rice for a more savory taste. Café Aquatica finds the middle ground between crispiness and succulence. Breading adds a nice crunch, but the slices are thick enough for you to get a glimpse of that juicy fat.
The crowd-favorite sandwich is the Aquatica Clubhouse (P295). It's their version of a clubhouse, but instead of the usual white bread, they use French toast deliciously seasoned with cinnamon. This baby comes packed with chicken salad, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and lettuce. Homemade potato chips on the side complete the picture.
Hot Café Mocha
For drinks, Café Aquatica puts up a mean Mocha Frape (P160) and Hot Café Mocha (P135), but the real star of the show is the Almond Shake (P85). It may not look like much, but its flavor steals the show. The taste is definitely there. The best part is that you can still detect the fragrant and nutty flavor of almonds within the creaminess.
At lunch time on a weekend, children are running around the café, trying to get the best view of the fish. That certainly brings back memories.
Photos by Juan Sinag Cano