For the past month, there was an area on the fourth floor of Mega Mall that was boarded up and covered with a design depicting the landscape of Gotham and Metropolis. There were streamers, life-sized statues, and posters hyping up the opening in practically every corner of the mall. Last weekend, these boards went up, up, and away revealing its true identity as the newest HQ for local DC fans.
Upon entering the DC Cafe’s main entrance, you’ll see some familiar signs: CC Jitters from The Flash and Big Belly Burger from Arrow. (And yes, they’ll actually be serving The Flash Coffee and burgers.)
Looking directly up from where you’re standing and you’ll spot the Bat-Signal from Tim Burton’s 1989 film adaptation. Located on the left, there’s a window patterned after the Gotham Clock Tower, inspired by Gail Simone’s run of Oracle (who used it as her base of operations). The clock is flanked by stained glass renditions of Jim Lee’s famous illustration of Batman issue #608 (second print) featuring the Caped Crusader and Superman. The gargoyle from that same cover is displayed at DC Cafe’s façade.
Further back, a print of Alex Ross’ Justice League painting, where the recent JL film drew inspiration for its promotional posters, is displayed on the wall. To your right are booths inspired by the Hall of Justice. Beside that is a bar that has a coffee machine shaped like a Batmobile. The hallway leading to the bathroom features DC villains, which we think is very apt. And these are just the more obvious references we’ve seen as you’ll need Batman-level detective skills to do more sleuthing and find all the DC easter eggs.
From the interiors alone, you can tell that a lot of thought was put into the design and that passionate fans worked on this cafe. The owner himself, Edric Chua, is a die-hard DC fanboy who loves Superman. He’s also the man responsible for the Ekonic gadget brand and the audiophile’s resident hangout Satchmi. When asked about his vision for the cafe, he answered, "I want the fans to come in and feel like they have a home. Aside from that, I want families to come in here and I want them to enjoy good food and hopefully come out learning more about the DC universe."
He also made sure to tap into the DC fan communities and turn it into a collaborative effort and a continuous back-and-forth with the fandom. One of his creative consultants included The Dark Knight PH’s (a local Batman Facebook fan group) co-founder Paolo Ollero, just to check if the details were correct.
You might notice that the DC merchandise is displayed all around the café, like Kryptonite weakening the resolve of collectors. Edric explained that he didn’t want specific sections dividing the area and wanted an immersive environment similar to the set-up in Satchmi. You can find collectible figures, toys, accessories, from LEGO, Arigatoys, Big Boys Toy Store, Maxicollector, and Ekonic plus, comic books from Comic Odyssey. They’ve even flown in official WB apparel to include merch that’s exclusive to DC Cafe.
Not all heroes wear capes—some put on a chef’s apron and provide a geeky gastronomic experience. Both Chef Kel Zaguirre of Locavore and Chef Kalel Demetrio of Agimat, heeded the hero’s call to action and carefully crafted a menu that stayed true to the source material.
We asked Chef Kel about his process in creating the dishes. He wasn’t a comic book fan to begin with but wanted to take on the challenge to stretch the limits of his creativity. He ended up doing a lot of research into DC lore and ended up getting hooked into the fandom. He explains about the food, “[My inspiration for creating the menu] was the entire DC universe. Putting each and every character into food form. [I had to consider] their attributes, classification, where they’re from, the origins and translating these aspects into flavors, textures, and colors.”
Barry Allen’s Favorite Pizza
Smoked Salmon Plate
As every noble DC hero would, we start with small tasks before taking on big challenges and try the appetizers first, Cyborg’s Crab Rangoons (P380) are mini fried wonton wraps stuffed with crab meat and cream cheese with salsa and aioli dipping to cut through the rich filling. The Joker’s Zucchini Fries (P380) will trick you into thinking you’re indulging in some crunchy, salty, starch but are really munching on veggies. But hey, you saved yourself from carbo-loading so who’s laughing now, Clown Prince of Crime?
Oddly enough, you can partake in Aquaman’s underwater friends such as the Smoked Salmon Plate (P450), razor thin slices of salmon lay on top of a toasted baguette crisp and covered with crumbly feta cheese plus, olives and pickles. One bite gives you that briney kick of the salty sea. The main course meal Arthur Curry (P540) is an actual curry dish that might be way too much on the nose in terms of puns. A tender salmon fillet swimming in green curry with mussels, carrots, and salmon caviar makes a hearty dish. It’s best consumed by combining all the components into one bite.
While these make for great pescatarian options, we can’t help remembering Rex Navarette’s Maritess vs. The Superfriends sketch, fearing that Jason Momoa’s Aquaman will beat us up before we take a bite (“I’m just cooking fish!”).
Barry Allen’s Favorite Pizza (P480) sounds simple enough: pepperoni, olives, and jalapeños. But the spicy and salty combo is worthy for bingeing during a movie night. If you want to rep the Green Lantern Corps and are mad craving past, try the Power Ring Tortellini (P390). The pasta is cooked al dente to give it a bite to contrast the cheese filling and comes in different colors. The “rings” are soaked in a buttery Alfredo sauce. Sadly, you can’t wear the ring-inspired pasta on your finger, harness its power, and transform into your CG suit.
Because there’s always room for dessert, we chew on Wonder Woman’s The Lasso of Truth (P180), a crispy churros glazed with rosewater syrup and pre-dipped in hot chocolate sauce. It inspired us to be more honest about how much food we’ve actually consumed so far (no regrets). We were also ensnared by the Pretty Poison (P240), inspired by an environmentally woke villainess. You’ll dig into layers of vanilla sponge cake, strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate crumbled (mimicking soil), and a green macaron designed like a venus flytrap—there are even gummy vines on top.
The Lasso of Truth
Now, we wash everything down with drinks! Chef Kalel (a self-given nickname) was a major Supes fan growing up. The mixologist ain’t kidding when he said he was a hardcore fan—his kids are named Kalel and Jorel! All his years spent reading the comics have finally led to DC Cafe, to which he immediately said yes. Since Chef Kel created the dishes first, Chef Kalel needed to create drinks that would complement the food. He explains, “[The process of creating drinks inspired by superheroes] was not really hard for me since I’m already a comic book fan. [I even named myself] Kalel after the Man of Steel. [It was an amazing experience] to make my childhood dreams a reality through these creations.”
Pistachio Grassy Latte
Just like the Caped Crusader, the Dark Night Chocolate Latte (P160) is consistent and dependable—a rich dark chocolate drink that’s not too cloyingly sweet. The Taro Purple Spiced Latte (P160) on the other hand, reflects Joker’s more unconventional nature and the combined flavors of purple yam and chili plus a shot of espresso, make it a so-weird-it’s-good must-try drink. The Heath Ledger-era Joker latte design on top gives it unsettling touch as if he’s staring into your soul. Pistachio Grassy Latte (P160) is a great salty and sweet concoction with the flavor of pandan balancing out the nuttiness of the main component. Never did we imagine in our wildest dreams that we’d be happily slurping up a drink made after a bad guy whose looks make us lose our lunch. Doomsday’s Nutty Forest Smoothie (P190) is a densely packed Black Forest drink served in a wide square glass. The granola and nuts provide some much-needed crunchy texture to an otherwise overwhelmingly peanut butter and chocolate mixture. It’s also good to know that Shazam gets a shout-out way ahead of his film debut with the Tropical Cream Cheese Smoothie (P190), a drink where the acidity of the lychee and passion fruit work well together with the cheddar cheese. Themyscirans would be glad to know that the tart flavor of the Berry Cheesecake Smoothie (P190) is just as strong as they are. And finally, you can be sure to get alcoholic drinks like Roses And Thorns (P280). Don’t be fooled by its sweet, pink demeanor because this blend of rose tapioca pearls, rose, milk, gin, and rum will creep up on you. There’s nothing quite like a bunch of geeks getting drunk together. (Imagine the kinds of fandom debate you’ll have!)
DC Super Heroes Cafe is currently on soft-opening and operates from 6:00pm-10:00pm. You can find it on the fourth floor of SM Mega Mall’s Fashion Hall. They’re currently accepting reservations via DM on their Facebook page but also welcome walk-in customers. More than a place to dine, the cafe aims to provide a hangout where both hardcore DC fans and newbies can come together. (Expect all sorts of DC-related fandom viewings in the coming months!).