When in Manila, particularly when you visit the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines, many alumni and students will recommend numerous and various restaurants and food centers for you to try. Some locals allot minimal budget and try the street food (kwekkwek, fishballs, squidballs, etc.) by the Shopping Center and at some isawan, while others would go and splurge on a more exquisite dining or cafe experience. If you’re in the mood for the latter, never leave the campus until you try out the amazing and delectable food that Restaurant of Choice, or simply, ROC Cafe offers.
Valentine’s Ambience at ROC!
I discovered ROC Cafe in my first year of teaching photography. I started mentoring newbie shutterbugs since February 2009 and, since this has been just a sideline, I tried various cafes and restaurants which could be a good “learning place” for my students. One day, when the other popular cafe in Ang Bahay ng Alumni was full, I located this other cafe at the other side of the building and was surprised to find the ambiance of the restaurant/cafe very homey. The manager was also very accommodating and gave me and my students a hearty welcome. But imagine my surprise when I did try their food: it was a eureka experience! I’ve been dining in the campus since 1998, and my first dining experience in ROC Cafe was probably one of the most memorable ever. From then on, I have been a regular customer of ROC Cafe. Proof: check out who’s the mayor of the restaurant on foursquare.com. Haha!
- The BEST burger in UP Diliman!
My personal favorite food from ROC Cafe is their ROC Burger. The burger patty has just the right taste and texture–it’s not as salty as some of the fast food burgers, and it’s not too thick as the gourmet burgers from bigwig restos, which make you feel guilty about your diet plans. The ROC Burger has always been my comfort food in the afternoons when my photography students are around the campus taking photos. I have tasted a lot of burgers almost everywhere in the metro, and for me, their burger is definitely among my top three choices when I’m drooling for one.
Satisfy your pasta cravings with Pesto Cream.
Many regular customers also recommend their pasta offerings. My personal favorites are: the classic Carbonara, the Pinoy-stylized Tuyo Puttanesca and Little Fish (danggit in pasta!), the sausage-filled Italian Job, and the greenish goodness of Pesto Cream, topped with chicken fillet.
An upcoming dish: Nilagang Corned Beef. I had the privilege of being among the first to try this. Yummm.
If you’re looking for a regular meal with rice, I couldn’t recommend enough the unbelievable goodness of Kalbi Stew, the sauce of which is blended to Korean perfection. For homey cravings, you can try Country Fried Steak, their succulent version of chicken fillet, topped with hot gravy. And for those who don’t mind their diet, go for local favorites Crispy Binagoongan and Bicol Express: both are served with deep-fried pork rind and meat, with crazy spicy and milky/savory sauce for the latter. All of these dishes are served with veggies on the side.
For those who are more health-conscious, perfect for those who observe Lenten fasting tradition, you can try out their fish entrees like Bangus Mediterranean, Fish Florentine, and Pesce Parmigiana. I’m not really into fish, but I did try some before and I marveled at the spices and flavorings used in these dishes!
A favorite of many patrons: the light and tangy Quezo Bianca!
Spicy! Hot, hot, hot Buffalo Wings!!!
Looking for just a light snack? Many patrons are crazy for their Quezo Bianca, kesong puti fillet garnished with red sauce and parmesan cheese. Their Buffalo Wings earned a lot of woahs from a few friends, and a former classmate also recommend their Clubhouse Sandwich to those who opt to skip lunch or dinner.
Have a slice of Banoffee goodness!
And pair it with a Cappuccino or…
What is a cafe without its share of cakes and coffee? In the past two years, I’ve seen the cake offerings change every season, but in the last few months, I’ve been blown away by their own version of Banoffee Cake (banana coffee) and their recent offerings, Romeo & Juliet (chocolate chiffon cake with thick white chocolate coating) and Strawberry Banana Cake, topped with irresistible cream frosting. I recommend that you try these sweeties with their version of Cafe Mocha.
Chillin’ with WiFi-enabled ROC Cafe
The restaurant has free WiFi, and the music in the background is not obtrusive and will not disturb your casual conversation with your friends. Oftentimes, I see customers who just hang out here on lazy Sundays for hours and, to those who are UP alumni, you might even bump into your former classmates and professors having a meeting or even a small class in one of the tables. At one time, I even had a tête-à-tête with former UP President Nemenzo himself!
But one of the major reasons why I am a loyal patron of ROC Cafe is because of the warm service of the hardworking staff and managers. They were the ones who welcome me into their cafe, weekend after weekend.
Very warm service from the staff, manager, and owners.
I think I’ve become too close already with the people that I have also had a lot of conversations with one of the restaurant owners, Rosa Laurel-Liamzon. She told me about how she and her husband, Don Liamzon, met in a culinary school in New York, where they both discovered their love for food and dreamed of opening a restaurant in Metro Manila. When they got married in 2004, Don already requested for a leasing space in Ang Bahay ng Alumni as he is an alumnus of the university. It took years before they were granted the current location of ROC Cafe and with some partners, they opened the resto/cafe, finally, in 2008.
I cannot recommend any other UP Diliman restaurant highly than ROC Cafe. True to its name, it has become so many people’s restaurant of choice!
When In Manila, be sure to try the amazing burgers at ROC Cafe!
Ang Bahay ng Alumni, Magsaysay Avenue, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.
9AM to 9PM on weekdays to Saturdays, 9AM to 6PM on Sundays.
You can reserve tables by calling (02) 425 0191.
Cash and Credit Card payments are accepted.
The Ultimate Choice When Dining in UP Diliman: Mouth Watering Burgers at ROC Cafe