A Trip Down Memory Lane at Za’s Cafe and Hizon’s Bakeshop in Manila

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As Paul and I followed the week-long news coverage on the wake and funeral ceremony of the late King of Comedy, Dolphy, it has been mentioned a number of times by friends and loved ones that Dolphy loves going to Hizon’s or he would gift someone with a box of Hizon’s ensaymada. At some point, this led to Paul telling me that he has never dined at Hizon’s or more specifically at the coffee shop adjacent to it called Za’s Cafe. I was shocked! Between the two of us, he grew up in Manila and I just can’t believe he has never been there. Whereas for yours truly who was born and raised in Quezon City, I has been frequenting this classic restaurant since I was a toddler. I guess that just goes to show that I would really go the distance for good food.

Anyway, I really love sharing a piece of my childhood with my husband. Be it trying a glass of halo-halo that I grew up enjoying or something like this – taking him to Za’s Cafe one rainy Sunday afternoon. I am pretty proud of myself for still remembering where it exactly was. We easily found a parking slot outside the restaurant and with umbrellas on hand, we quickly made our way in. As you enter the main door, you will see the Bakeshop first. Glass counters filled with their homemade Mamon, famous Ensaymada and a lot more.

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There’s the large wooden shelf filled with Raisin Bread, the only thing that I do not buy and eat from this Bakeshop. However, something’s missing... the CAKES! My favorite Mocha Chiffon Cake! I asked the lady in charge and was told that the cakes will be delivered later in the afternoon. :( Sad because I really love their Mocha and Caramel cakes and I was actually planning to order a slice for dessert.

Walking further in, we headed to Za’s Cafe. At 1PM, the restaurant was still filled with families and couples enjoying their Sunday lunch. We were led to our small table by the window. How romantic! ♥

Paul left the ordering on my hands and so I quickly rattled off my favorites which I’m glad are still available. Of course we had the Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Sauce (Php. 350) as well as the Braised Ox Tongue Piquante (Php. 420).

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Note though that it may take a while for your main dishes to come out as I think they cook this on a per order basis. While waiting, I highly recommend that you order a Bread Basket (Php. 35) which comes with 4 dinner rolls and a couple of butter slices. I love their bread! It’s so soft, sweet and fluffy! We love their dinner rolls so much that we would buy an entire pack to bring home back then. Paul also enjoyed the bread basket as he happily spread a generous amount of butter on his dinner rolls before taking a big bite.

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We also had a glass of Calamansi Juice (Php. 40) each. This is just what we need... more Vitamin C!

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Finally, after about 30 minutes of waiting and people watching, our Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Sauce came out. One order gives you two medium sized pork chops, a cup of rice or a basket of bread, buttered veggies, creamy mashed potato and their special apple sauce. It feels like Thanksgiving in July! I don’t know why. We split the two pork chops into our respective plates as well as the veggies and mashed potato too! I love Za’s mashed potato. The creamy, milky texture that reminds me of Mom’s mashed potato at home. I also love the sweet apple sauce but I guess it really depends on your taste as Paul still prefers to have his porkchop with just a dash of seasoning and hot sauce. The pork chops were very tender and juicy. I must say, it was grilled to perfection.

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We also had the Braised Ox Tongue Piquante a.k.a. Lengua. I know it is a bit pricey but I can’t help it. After all, I rarely get to go to Za’s Cafe nowadays thus all the more I should grab every opportunity to have this. Actually, I was being a good girl and initially just ordered the Pork Chop as I thought Paul wanted to eat light. However after telling the waiting that that’s what we’re getting, Paul asked me if I wanted another dish. Well, let’s just say I know when to grab the opportunity when it’s dangling right in front of me. Even before my husband can change his mind, I told the waiter to also add the delicious Braised Ox Tongue in. *clever Fran* :p

If you love Lengua, then you have to try this. The meat was fork-tender, the sauce perfectly complementing the meat and once again it’s served with your choice of rice or bread, mashed potato and veggies. It’s a filling meal made for champions (or a king)! :)

We enjoyed our quiet Sunday lunch date at Za’s Cafe. The rainy weather outside just made this 66 year old establishment even cozier. Well, another thing that has impressed me was that they actually have free Wi-Fi connection! Talk about catching up with time.

Service was also good and we were able to chat with our friendly server who told us that their business has doubled (even tripled) ever since the passing of Dolphy. I guess he continues to bring more blessings to his favorite restaurant/bakeshop now that he’s up in heaven. Both Hizon’s and Za’s Cafe are owned by one family. Hizon is the last name of the lady owner while Za’s Cafe stands for Zamora, the last name of her husband.

I’m glad that Paul enjoyed his first visit to Hizon’s / Za’s Coffee Shop that we are now planning for our next visit should we find ourselves in Manila again.

Visit Hizon’s Bakeshop / Za’s Cafe at 1197 Jorge C. Bocobo St. cor. Arquiza, Ermita, Manila. Call them at 524-8790, 536-3993, 536-1733.

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