September 25, 2023

Call it the colonization of the taste buds or the Americanization of the people in the mountains but the lifestyle at John Hay Air Base and the grilled burgers filling the 19th Tee and Mile Hi were the standard of sandwiches. Those gastronomic cravings ended when the rest and recreational facility of the former U.S. bases closed in 1991. Well, those memories came to life at this garden restaurant called Hatch Coffeeat Manzanillo Subdivision.

The menu isn’t very long, it offers coffee in all cold and hot mixes, which is how it started. As Hatch coffee, they became popular by word of mouth. This eating place has the state-of-the-art coffee maker to make cold brew black, cold brew latte, cold brew mocha, hot black, hot latte or cappucino/flat white, and hot mocha. There ischai tea latte, hatchata, dirty hatchata, hatchata shake, affogato, cold brew/ horchata one liter, and cold brew/horchata 500ml, too.

Let’s talk food now. I usually ask what is homegrown and homemade at the restaurant or café that I visit. I tried the all-day breakfast meal of fried rice, a sunny side up egg and bacon. The homemade bacon was different with its smokey flavor and the inclusion of the skin. Unlike the paper-thin commercial slices, these slices were a little thicker and could be crispy, upon request. The fried rice was good because it was made from special aromatic rice. On the side was a small cup of ensalada with diced tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. There’s no need for condiments because everything was flavored just right.

The hatch burger was the trip back to the JHAB years. The pure beef patty on the Hawaiian bun was a flashback. Lettuce, tomatoes and the magic American touch – caramelized onions are the fringes that Pinoy style burgers do not have. That was the most valuable experience there. Have you ever watched how white onions are cooked on low fire until the rings turn golden? They are sweet and almost gooey. A slice of melting American cheddar cheese makes the whole bite a childhood memory of the bowling lanes or 19th Tee. The Hawaiian bun is also an exciting sweet pillow to catch all the juicy goodness.

There is something about the quality Baguio longganisa that has earned its own reputation. But it depends on the supplier and it is not any ordinary garlic filled pork sausage. Imagine it in a grilled sandwich with mozzarella cheese. Here, it is called longga grilled cheese sandwich. Whole wheat bread from Hill Station makes this a special sandwich. This may not be too Americano but the cheese and the whole wheat bread are borrowed tastes.

The other sandwiches to sample here include the grilled cheese, kimchi grilled cheese, Easter sandwich, spam/bacon egg slut, double hatch burger, and ube grilled cheese.

Groupies will have fun with the combos. There is the hatch slider meal that has six mini hatch burgers plus two hatchatas. The sandwich tray has three grilled cheese and three Easter sandwiches. The Hatch burger tray has four Hatch burgers and fries.

This is all to be had in this secret garden. This is because this café is like a hole in the garden wall. When you take five steps inside the gate, it opens up to a delightful pathway filled with plants. The open space is the dining area under an extended roof with exposed beams. On the sides of the building are cozy nooks for small groups. The walls were turned into small galleries for works of local painters.

An old Baguio experience with bungalows and lawns, this café with its old favorites that are remnants of Americana prove that our taste buds get conquered too.