Buku-Buku Kafe: A Southern Hub Where Art and Good Food Collide

Themed restaurants are all the rage right now, and one of my current favurites is Buku-Buku Kafe, a coffee shop – slash – restaurant that doubles as an artsy hub for bookworms and artists to enjoy. ‘Buku-Buku’ is actually a Bahasa term for ‘many, many books’, and that is exactly what the place offers – plus more!
Buku-Buku Cafe 1

Buku-Buku Cafe 2

Buku-Buku Kafe is owned by the creative mother-daughter-son trio Lyn Santiago, Jessica Santiago and Nicholas Santiago, who have all ensured that the place is homey and incredibly Instagram-worthy.
Buku-Buku Cafe 3

Buku-Buku Cafe 4

Buku-Buku Cafe 5

Buku-Buku Cafe 6

They have a hugot board!

The idea of putting up a concept cafe that offers a full dining experience came about when founders Jessica and Nicholas chanced upon a small and artsy street coffee shop y in Japan where artists could do poetry reading and have live sessions with bands. “Traveling to different parts of the Asia and Europe exposed us to these small ‘underground coffee shops’”, shares Jessica.

Although still relatively new, Buku-Buku Kafe has been attracting a wide array of people of different interests. At my visit alone, I witnessed a few families sit down to eat with one family even having a couple of bookworms in their midst and strategically placing themselves right in front of the book corner.

Buku-Buku Cafe 7

Buku-Buku Cafe 8

Books aside, Buku-Buku Kafe also provides komiks and ‘zines for your reading pleasure, some of which aren’t easily found in mainstream bookstores.

Buku-Buku Kafe 9

People also go there to work on their laptops, I noticed, or to read while sipping on a cup of coffee. (Their coffee is delicious, by the way!) Apart from their staple coffee drinks, they also serve different selections of cocktail drinks which are perfect for a chill night with friends, accompanied by live music.

Of course, they’ve got good food, too. If you’re looking for something basic to munch on while reading, working or hanging out with your friends, there are lots of options for you to choose from. I absolutely love their chips and dip!

Buku-Buku Kafe 10

Another bestseller in the house is their Romi Lamen, which is a creative twist on ramen and lomi –  definitely a dish you wouldn’t want to miss. Served with pork broth, roasted pork, pork liver, soft-boiled egg, shitake nori, chicharon, and kimchi, Romi Lamen provides a whole new level of gastronomic creativity.

Buku-Buku Kafe 11

Buku-Buku Kafe also serves as a perfect avenue for upcoming artists and musicians to get more visibility and tap an exclusive market sector without the need to spend too much on promotions. According to Nicholas, he says he thinks their partnership with young local artists and indie musicians works both ways. “They’re pretty much in line with our brand vision: selling art pieces and having live performances from indie bands add up to the unique flavor of our cafe.”

Here are just some of the art pieces that you can find for sale at their cafe. They sell prints, postcards, notebooks, and other unique finds.

Buku-Buku Kafe 12

Buku-Buku Kafe 13

“One of our key missions is to bring together a like-minded community and help boost the art and music scene here in the south”, Nicholas adds. Make sure you drop by whenever you find yourself in Cavite! 🙂

Buku-Buku Kafe

Ground floor, Promenade Wing, The District, Imus, Cavite


Instagram: @buku.bukukafe