I have had the chance to work outside my house since the second quarter of the year, as long-time readers of The Monching’s Guide have read. Located near my college alma mater, UP Town Center was a frequent haunt of mine before the COVID-19 pandemic. When restrictions were relaxed here in Manila, I took the chance to look for a decent restaurant in the mall where I can do my work while having a good meal.
Fortunately, home-grown joint Nono’s came to mind. It replaced the old American Eagle Outfitters at the mall, which closed down some years ago. Café Mary Grace, which replaced the old St. Marc Café there, was conveniently located right beside it. “Comfort food done right” is Nono’s slogan, and the fact that I’m writing about it here meant that it stayed true to this.
I visited Nono’s twice, staying there for around five to six hours to do my work. I ordered several of their menu items – both sweet and savory – and let me share them here.
Good meals often begin with good appetizers, and the Fried Truffle Cheese Wontons (P185) fall under this category. These wontons are filled with a blend of creamy mozzarella and sharp cheddar. Honey, candied walnuts and truffle oil cut through the two cheeses for contrast. While this starter appealed to me, I ate this rather carefully as the last thing I wanted on my laptop was the drizzled honey.
Soups are also excellent for whetting the appetite, and Nono’s Farmers Corn Chowder Soup (P265) does a good job at it. This chowder uses Japanese corn as its main ingredient, with potato chunks and quail eggs contributing carbohydrates and protein. There was a hint of sweetness that came from the Japanese corn used, and the slices of buttered sourdough bread served with the chowder were a delight when dunked in the soup.
While Nono’s offers a variety of mains based on traditional Western comfort food – with its take on fried chicken being a must-order – I went against the grain and ordered other items.
The Miso-Glazed Salmon with Red Rice (P555) is highly recommended for those following a pescatarian diet. It consists of the eponymous fish with a glaze made from fermented soybean paste, on top of a combination of red rice and corn. Green beans support the salmon fillet’s underside, and a sprinkling of chopped green onion rounds out everything.
I found the salmon rather flavorful, pairing well with the heavy and filling rice. However, I found the red rice and corn combo rather tasteless. But still, to each their own.
Meat-eaters, on the other hand, will find satisfaction in the Pinoy-Style Beef Steak (P495). Tender beef slices are cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and calamansi (calamondin, the local Philippine lemon). The resulting mix is then served on a bed of garlic fried rice and topped with fried onion rings. Half a tomato and a small ramekin of the meat drippings accompany the single-bowl dish.
Nono’s take on the Filipino bistek (beef steak) did not disappoint, mainly from the contrast of textures between the sautéed onions in the meat and the fried onion topping. I also ordered scrambled eggs as an add-on at P45, which mellowed down the savory taste. The tomato, meanwhile provided a refreshing tartness. I literally took my time finishing this beef steak as I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible.
At Nono’s, one can enjoy breakfast favorites for lunch and even dinner. The Parmesan Ensaymada with Hot Chocolate (P195) is one example of this. Its version of the ensaymada, a brioche-like bun topped with generous amounts of cheese, used the sharp and salty parmesan. While it did pair nicely with the hot chocolate, I found the taste of the accompanying beverage to be rather “commercial.”
Scones are always fantastic whether it’s for breakfast time or tea time. The Chocolate Chip Scone (P135/piece) hits two birds with one stone, serving as both a dessert and as a filling accompaniment to a hot beverage. The staff at Nono’s warmed the scone prior to serving, which melted the chocolate chips mixed in. I forgot to take a picture of the scone during the first time I tried it, so I made sure to snap photographs during my second visit.
I find my meals to be incomplete without a cup of coffee as I find that it helps in digestion. As expected from a coffee person like me, I ordered the Flat White (P155) during my first visit. I liked this coffee that I ordered another cup, with an explicit request that no sugar packets be served alongside it. I paired this one with the Chocolate Chip Scone I mentioned above, and the pairing turned out superb.
On my subsequent visit to Nono’s, I ordered the Salted Caramel Latte (P185) out of curiosity. However, I found it too sweet for my liking – that I resorted to drinking it rather slowly. I eventually ended up adding water to it just to temper down the sweetness. Putting the taste aside, I liked the design of the caramel on top of the milk foam.
All in all, I’m pleasantly surprised that my remote working sessions at Nono’s turned out to be productive despite the background noise of older white-collar employees and students from the nearby universities having their meals. The staff also helped me find a spot near an electric outlet – that allowed me to charge my laptop when its battery ran low.
Nono’s has other branches around the metro, so if you’re in Manila, I suggest heading over to a branch near you. Comfort food done right? Hell yes, they did.
And that ends my post about Nono’s. Until the next post, bon appetit!
G/F Phase 1, UP Town Center,
Katipunan Avenue, Brgy. UP Campus,
Diliman, Quezon City 1108