Coffee and Clocks: A “UCC Clockwork” Review – 3rd Wave Coffee Shops in Manila

Some friends have told me that UCC Clockwork has some of the most Instagram-worthy dishes, and it’s something you have to visit if you’re on the lookout for pretty food to add to your feed. I took it upon myself to visit the place and find out if the food is actually as good as it looks…with a little help from my foodtrip buddies.

I had high hopes for UCC Clockwork given that it’s a 3rd wave coffee shop, but the moment I stepped in I felt that the experience may not be as good as I hoped. First of all, the service staff wasn’t accommodating.  My friends and I were ignored and didn’t even get as much as a greeting. I had to make an effort to get their attention, only to be told that all tables were already reserved.

We left feeling disappointed because I met with my friends specifically to have a late lunch at UCC Clockwork. We were looking for alternative restaurants at Estancia Mall when I thought of calling UCC Clockwork to make a reservation, even though we just left for around 5 minutes. Who knows, they might entertain us when they can’t see us in person.
Surprisingly, the lady at the other end of the line told me that they have a table for four! I don’t know if I should be glad that we have a table, or mad about the fact that 5 minutes ago they told me they can’t accommodate us. I can just imagine what the staff were thinking when it was me again who came through the door and asked for the reservation. Lesson learned: this branch pays more attention to you over the phone, but probably judges you when they see you in person.
Oh well, at least we still got what we wanted for that day. As usual, I asked for the specialties in their menu, and these were what we got:

Fresh Corned Beef with Kimchi Rice – Php 350.00

Corned beef is one of my favorite breakfast foods, although it’s not very often that the word “fresh” comes along with the name. The moment I saw it I understood why – unlike the shredded or chunky corned beef that we’re used to, this one’s in the form of sliced beef pieces, served with poached egg and salad on the side. It’s good that the beef’s taste isn’t overwhelming given that you’re going to have it with kimchi rice.

Rosemary Chicken Crisp – Php 320.00

This is a good option if you wanted a heavier meal. The grilled herbed chicken is tender enough, and goes well with the chicken rind rice. The rice is a bit too sour for my taste though, probably because of the balsamic reduction sauce.

Threesome Breakfast – Php 380.00

Now I definitely won’t mind waking up to this threesome. A small serving of tapa, pork tocino, and garlic longganisa are served with garlic rice and two sunny side-ups. Nothing special here and I’m guessing that the reason why this is more expensive than the other UCC Clockwork bestsellers is that the tapa is made of angus sukiyaki beef. What we liked the best among the three though is the longganisa. 

Crabby Fatty Omurice – Php 350.00

Nope, this isn’t Spongebob’s specialty. This is an omelette – rice hybrid made flavorful with shredded crabmeat, garlic, onions, kani, ebiko and parsley.  As if the crabmeat wasn’t enough, it’s also got aligue cream and toro-toro eggs. It has a very distinct crab taste and is actually pretty good. I would recommend though that you have this with a side dish because it will make you feel sated in no time.

Chili Fries – Php 180.00

UCC Clockwork’s version of chili fries are made colorful by sautéed ground beef, tomaotes, garlic sauce, cheese sauce, bell peppers, onions, and a little but of cilantro for garnish. It didn’t taste much different from others I’ve already tried, but it’s understandable given that they just used the usual ingredients.

Thick Toast Green tea Nutella – Php 340.00

I didn’t want to go wrong with dessert, so we asked the lady taking our orders for their bestseller. She highly recommended the Thick Toast Green Tea Nutella, so we went with this one because hey, what can go wrong with Nutella, right?

We were served huge slices of green matcha toasts stacked on top of each other. The Nutella served as the glue that held the whole thing together, while warm chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream made the dish look more tempting. Unfortunately though, the great taste was only limited to the top portion which has the vanilla ice cream. The toast doesn’t even have a distinct matcha taste. We tried asking for extra scoops of ice cream so we can finish the whole thing, but it would cost us more than a hundred pesos per scoop, so we sadly said no. 

Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Coffee) – Php 180.00

Of course, we ordered coffee since this is a coffee shop after all! This Vietnamese drink is made with coarsely ground dark roast coffee. Before it was served to us, it was brewed and placed in a cup containing about a quarter of condensed milk. You then stir the whole concoction for a sweet, refreshing drink.

Yuan Yuang (Hong Kong Coffee) – Php 180.00

What makes this different from the usual coffee is that it is mixed with milk tea. It can be served either hot or cold. “Yuanyuang” refers to Mandarin ducks, which symbolize conjugal love in Chinese culture.
We also gave the sweet Clockwork Iced tea (Php 120.00) a shot.

***

The dishes served to us were definitely several notches higher than the usual coffee shop meals in terms of presentation, complexity, and taste. It’s true, all of the food we had were “Instagrammable” and it would have been a pleasant experience all in all if only the staff were just a bit nicer from the start.

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