Taft is one of the busiest places of Manila, with several universities in the area. As students, always on the go, fill the historic avenue, there’s no doubt that cafés are popping up not just as another study place but also as hang-out and relaxation havens.
Two of these popular cafés are the Korean-inspired Café Noriter and Café Travel. Both share the same concept—eating spaces that are either lounge-like or treehouse-inspired, walls and tables that can be doodled on—and almost the same menu. But, of course, they stand out individually for different reasons.
Let’s start with Café Noriter. Noriter (or nor-i-teo 놀이터, to be more precise) is the Korean word for “playground”, and the café promises their customers a unique and playful environment. When you step inside, you can instantly feel the playfulness aesthetic.
You’ll instantly be greeted by a menu written in colorful chalk on the blackboard and cheerful blue and yellow counter. Each eating space is also unique, especially the treehouse-like spaces where you can lounge, eat, enjoy the street view, and sometimes even sleep! The café also gives each customer to help in its design. On its walls (and some other areas of the cafe), there’s a space designated for plastic cups designed by customers who feel like letting out their creative juices. Each treehouse-like table top and space in the wall is filled with doodles and scribbles.
Now for the food! Café Noriter only sells drinks, cakes, and pastries. The food servings are quite large and are good for two. The honey bread (P145) is toasted and glazed with honey, topped with whipped cream and cinnamon powder, and drizzled with caramel sauce. The cookies n’ cream frappuccino (P135), meanwhile, is the right amount of creamy and feels like a milkshake than a frappuccino. Anyone with a sweet tooth can enjoy the food and drinks, although if you’re the person who’s quick to have an umay moment, then the sweetness might turn you off.
Other must-tries in the café are the mocha (P135) and choco chips Frappuccino (P145) and the oreo cake (P130). Sadly, we didn’t get to try those because we were in a hurry that day and had to go to our next destination—Café Travel.
Café Travel is still new in the numerous food establishments around Taft but has become a must-try, even from outside the area. While Noriter promises its customers a whimsical atmosphere, Café Travel will bring out the inner wanderlust in you with its airport terminal-like counter, destination signs, and travel memorabilia.
The food is almost similar to the ones offered in Noriter. Their best-seller, the honey bread (P150) drizzled in both caramel and chocolate. We understood why it’s their best-seller at first bite.
We also had their mango cake (P170) and the plain New York cheesecake (P190), which are also good, but, again, might not appeal to people without a sweet tooth. Strangely, we tried a bite of the honey bread, followed by a bite of those cakes, and the umay factor was suddenly gone!
Of course, we would never not try their frappuccinos, or travel specials, as they call it (all P180)—travel green tea and travel java chip. The travel java chip is the right taste of decadent and the travel green tea is perfectly mild and refreshing.
While the food for both cafés may be appealing to only those with a sweet tooth, it’s the ambience that makes up for it. It’s a must-go if you need a different environment to study or if you and your group of friends just want to lounge around.
Café Noriter is located at the Second Floor. Reyes Bldg., Estrada St. cor. Taft Ave., Malate, Manila, above Tapa King. Café Travel is located at the Second Floor, Archer’s Nook Center, 2624 Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila, just above Army Navy and Yellow Cab. If you aren’t sure where these places are, they are pretty much within the area of De La Salle University Manila. You can check out their Facebook pages for more info (Cafe Noriter Facebook page and Cafe Travel Facebook page).