If you live or study near Vito Cruz in Taft, I’m sure you’ve already been or at least heard about a Korean restaurant + coffee shop that’s quite hidden from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. There are at least three spots that might pop up your head but let’s focus on the one situated at the second floor of Tapa King called… Café Noriter!
Noriter (이대점) is the Korean term for “playground”.
I’ve actually been here a couple of times and it has been around since 2009 (if I remember correctly), so it’s not surprising if you’ve already basked in its artsy glorious days when it was first opened to the public. The paper cup designing area was the talk of the town at that time and anyone would like to have their colorful cups put on display. After seven years or so, have you ever wondered if it’s still a big hit?
Actually, the shop still is. I went back on a Saturday afternoon with my friend and we found ourselves having no choice but to take one last available “crib” near the window. They have spaces for the usual table-and-chair setup but since you’re in a Korean-themed café, might as well feel how it’s like to drink (coffee) and dine in this crib.
I’ve got eight sentiments about this café that made me never want to go back… home:
1. Despite having lots of “vandalisms” on their cribs and tables, the messages on the polished wood has already become part of the shop’s beauty.
Not everyone might agree with me (given that some of the writings make no sense) but I’d like to classify things that look amazing in a messed up state as “art”. Writing on the crib is now a no-no but you can still pin a message at their bulletin board.
2. Café Noriter is more peaceful now but that doesn’t stop its customers to have a wonderful coffee experience.
Think of gloomy, rainy afternoons when you’re only up to staring outside the window while sipping your cup of coffee… or frappe… or hot choco.
3. The cupboard doesn’t overflow with “cup art” (compared to before) but it looks so neat and orderly now.
I like this version better.
4. They now have a chalkboard-looking map that you’d want to put in your room.
Travel inspirations? Here’s an idea: Try different types of beverage from every continent.
5. Their rice meals come with HUGE rice servings.
I don’t know if it’s just because of the shape, but this serving already looks enough for what you’ll pay for.
6. Their menu consists of items ranging from P85 above, so have at least P500 in your wallets!
The menu is a combination of Korean and Pinoy favorites. They offer breakfast meals, sandwiches, smoothies, and bingsu, too. For your daily dose of caffeine, try their cappuccino and café latte.
Although it looks pricey, don’t judge their cake by its size. A single slice of Oreo Cheesecake is enough for an hour-long meeting (or more) over coffee. (That’s the first featured photo above.)
7. Their staff genuinely greets you as you enter and as you leave. It’s quite heartwarming.
Though this is a normal protocol in any establishment, you can see that the people in this establishment actually care about your order. They’ll recommend beverages and cakes that you might like and they’ll make sure that you have enough straws, utensils, and table napkins.
One of the servers kidded around when she forgot to punch in one of our additional orders, saying: “Nako, baka ma-Google kami.” in the hope of saving the cafe (and probably her job) from receiving bad feedback. She’s funny, though, so we didn’t really mind. It pays to have employees who care about shop reviews.
8. It feels so homey, I almost didn’t want to go back home.
When you have huge pillows on a wooden crib that’s big enough for you, a supply of food, a socket for charging needs, and a window to the outside world, what more could you wish for? (Someone to accompany you, maybe?)
Café Noriter is located at the second floor of the Reyes Building in Estrada Street, Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila. Take the stairs right beside Tapa King.
Store opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m.
Ces the millennial says: I’ll have to admit that it looks less lively than it was during its first year in business, but as I’ve said earlier, the homey and peaceful ambiance is something you can still enjoy. After all, a noriter (playground) is more fun when you’re spending time with friends.