Marrying tradition with innovation
It always happens: you plan on checking out a newly opened restaurant only to ditch the idea in the last minute for something familiar and homegrown.
This is the place you often come back to, where the food is good, the atmosphere makes you feel instantly feel at home and the people welcome you with warm smiles, just like family.
Ka Tunying’s Café, owned by broadcast journalist and radio commentator Anthony “Ka Tunying” Taberna and wife, Rossel, is one of those places for family bonding, barkada get-togethers, office lunches, and after-work dinners. And while many are drawn to its menu of local favorites, the restaurant has strived to evolve with the times by introducing innovative spins to traditional Filipino food.
Food trail: From Nueva Ecija to Manila
Taberna grew up in Nueva Ecija where his family owned and ran a local panaderya called Ka Tunying’s Tinapay, Kape, at Iba Pa (which later became Tunying’s Bread).
Named after his father, Antonio Taberna, Sr. (the original Ka Tunying), the bakeshop somewhat became a town destination over the years. Some of its customers even brought their signature crinkles and Spanish bread as baon and pasalubong when traveling to Manila. These breads soon found their way to supermarket fairs and pop-up bazaars around Metro Manila. It was only a matter of time then that customers clamored for a brick and mortar store in Metro Manila that would sell the scrumptious treats.
The growing demand for Tunying’s crinkles and bread gave the husband and wife team the push they needed to venture into the food business. Aside from baked products, Anthony and Rossel also thought of offering Filipino food we can’t live without.
“My wife is from Laguna and both of us love bread and home-cooked meals prepared by her Mommy Marilou and my Nanay Benny,” Tunying shared, waxing nostalgic.
So in 2015, Ka Tunying’s Café opened its doors on Visayas Avenue and debuted a complete menu offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. The restaurant also introduced their unique coolers to the Manila crowd.
Soon after, Anthony and Rossel opened branches on Timog Avenue and at NAIA Terminal 3 to make it accessible to more people, including balikbayan and OFWs craving for a taste of home.
Sikat Dito, Pinoy food with a twist: Dishes you should try
Staying true to its roots has always been part of the appeal of Ka Tunying’s Café, which has held on to its well-loved dishes in spite of the barrage of food trends.
There’s the bestseller Arroz Ala Tunying and Cabanatuan Longsilog with choices of recado, batutay, and hamonado. The Umagang Kay Sarap dishes are available all-day with other must-try dishes like tsamporado with tuyo flakes and creamy baked bangus. Add a minimal amount for a cup of Ka Tunying’s blend coffee (P55) and unlimited rice (P35).
Dishes that people are coming back for (binabalik balikan) are called Sikat Dito, which include those with unique twists such as the creamy tinapa carbonara and ka-love-asa lasagna.
Ka Tunying’s Café also brought something from the province, foremost of which is Pancit ni Nanay Benny, a family recipe developed by Ka Tunying’s mom.
Their breads remain to be popular, too, and are baked fresh every day like the kamote cheesebread and kalabasa ensaymada, among others.
Ka Tunying’s Café is a venue for social and corporate functions. At the Timog branch, for example, there are two function rooms that can accommodate up to 20 persons for those who want a more private setting.
Partnering with Bistro
As Ka Tunying’s Café works to stay competitive in the food business with the objective of expanding the brand, the restaurant inked a partnership with The Bistro Group of Restaurants, the same company that operates popular casual dining restaurants such as TGIFridays, Italiannis, Denny’s, Texas Roadhouse, and Buffalo Wild Wings, among others.
“In collaboration with the Bistro Group, we have enhanced our bestselling dishes and breads while simultaneously introducing the new appetizer, mains, and desserts that will delight old and new guests,” the Tabernas said. “We are happy to be working with them in growing our brands.”
“The Bistro Group is excited about this partnership. We are working together to ensure that we maintain the same delectable Filipino comfort food that guests have grown accustomed to and at the same time give them something new to look forward to every so often. Essentially, it’s still Ka Tunying’s Café, Pinoy comfort food with a twist stamped the signature Bistro brand of service,” said Jean Paul Manuud, president and COO of The Bistro Group.
To mark this important milestone, Ka Tunying’s Café has also lined up new dishes such as Bruce tawilis, tinapang lumangoy sa monggo and Labo-labo na chopseuy. There are also linamnam meals (solo meals with two viands with rice) and bakbakan platter that is good for sharing.
To know more about Ka Tunying Café, call (02) 366 1342 or visit Facebook www.facebook.com/katunyingscafe.