Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

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The BEST baking & food store in Manila

posted by in Food Purveyors

overview of Chefs' Nook
lose yourself

We were driving around the back roads of Mandaluyong looking for I-don’t-remember what-now. I was in the back seat craning my neck, my eyes peering out into the darkness. Suddenly a large blue and white sign appears on the left with letters that I could just make out: Chefs’ Nook.

“Hey, that looks cool!” I remember pointing and yelling to my two friends up front. “Quick! What street is this?”

“Pilar,” my friend, Mari mumbles distractedly, too intent on her driving.

outside Chefs' Nook
that fortuitous blue sign

That was way back in 2003. I remember coming back to the exact same street a few days later, this time on my own, to check out what this “Chefs’ Nook” was all about. I found a store crammed full of the widest variety of Thai ingredients and even better, baking ingredients (yippee!). So enchanted was I with Chefs’ Nook that I immediately pitched the idea to my editor (of the food magazine I was writing for then) and I didn’t stop pestering her until she gave me the go-ahead to feature it.

There’s no way that I could’ve known then that the owner of Chefs’ Nook would become one of my dearest friends. She’s Imelda Go, baker of the famous White Velvet Symphony and Triple Hazelnut Mousse which was featured at the tea party last March. Imelda owns this treasure of a store along with her friend and business partner, Sally So. Chefs’ Nook is actually an offshoot of a sister company, Magic Kitchen, which is Imelda’s home-based made-to-order bakery.

stuff at Chefs' Nook
Thai stuff galore

When I first wrote about Chefs’ Nook when it opened three years ago, I was taken with their immense assortment of Thai ingredients – from assorted curry pastes, packs of ready-to-cook tom yum goong soup, dried rice noodles and rice papers, sweet chili sauce, dark soy sauce, sweet potato powder, cassava starch, dried galangal, dried kaffir lime, – name it, they had it. And they still do. Three years later, their Thai line is even more extensive than I’ve ever seen it to be. Now there’s even Hibiscus tea, Thai teas, dried chilies, large and robust cinnamon sticks and palm sugar. Happily, they still carry that green mango dip, Nam Pla Wan, which is a favorite of mine and Sharon Cuneta (as Imelda tells me); dark and sticky, it’s an exciting rush of spicy, sweet, and salty. Mmm, I salivate as I write this.

inside Chefs' nook
wonderland

Over the past few years, Imelda has added even more stuff to her store. Tools for cooks have sprouted up like Cuisipro kitchen rasps, Microplane graters, Salter kitchen scales, baking and cooking pans, pie toppings, tubs of shortening, Chinese rice wines, black vinegar, and plenty of Oriental ceramic plates. On my last visit, I see an entire line of silicone bakeware and accessories displayed across some slick- looking knives. I squeal excitedly when I see bottles of Myer’s Jamaican Rum, the best rum, bar none, for rum-butter cake.

chocolate powders and bars
chocolate to get high on

Chefs’ Nook is where I buy my Silpat mats, baking wonders which I consider the next best things after dessert. Ever since I bought my Silpats here, I won’t make pie crust or bread without them. I also adore the cocoa powders here: Bensdorp cocoa, and two kinds of Tulip cocoa – Burgundy, which has a 10-12% fat content, and Bordeaux, which possesses a 21-24% fat content, and is thus darker (see photo below) and more redolent of chocolate. Both are terrific for making chocolate cakes that are as dark as night.

fave stuff from Chefs' Nook
some of my “must-gets” from Chefs’ Nook

Speaking of chocolate, no one can beat the chocolate bars offered at Chefs’ Nook. There’s an entire line of Callebaut chocolate — milk, bittersweet, couverture, the entire sugarfree chocolate line – and my favorite, Gianduja, an unspeakably divine mix of hazelnut and chocolate. Also available here are Callebaut pastes and fondants, perfect for cake and truffle fillings. A cheaper but equally quality brand of chocolate is also sold here, Tulip. It comes in dark couverture and milk chocolate as well as a good chocolate compound that’s perfect for enrobing chocolates and candy, since it eliminates the need for tempering chocolate.

a baker's glory
a baker’s glory

Chef’s Nook is the only place in Manila where I will buy nuts for my baking. Because of their high oil and fat content, nuts will turn rancid easily, which is why I store mine in the freezer. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve seen rodents scampering around other more popular baking-supply stores. At Chefs’ Nook, all the nuts are kept where they should be, and that’s in the chiller. Every kind of nut is available here, from macadamias to pine nuts, and the almonds are available whole, slivered, and sliced. Impressive. New offerings include figs and fig pastes, dried blueberry nuggets, tropical raisin medleys, and dried cranberries. It’s a wonderland, I tell you.

more fave stuff from Chefs' Nook
ingredients for my next do-it-myself Thai meal at home

One last thing I’m very grateful for here at Chefs’ Nook is its knowledgeable salesperson, Jo Ann. She knows each and every ingredient at the store and will even portion out as little as ¼ of a kilo for any of the cocoa powders or nuts. Ah, service and variety. I couldn’t ask for more from a store.

Chefs’ Nook
220 Pilar St., Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City.
(02) 724-5812
Open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5:30pm.

Magic Kitchen
17 Penelope Lane, Acropolis, Libis, QC.
(02) 637-8002

Read my original Chefs’ Nook article (circa 2003).

48 Responses to “The BEST baking & food store in Manila”

  • hmmm.. this comment is way off topic,

    BUT ANYWAY,

    the address 220 pilar st. sounds familiar.. i think this is where GROCERY used to be in the 90′s..

    la lang.

    [Reply]

    Pinoy CHefs Reply:

    also Try Gourdo’s Stores. Gourdo’s is the official reseller of Wilton Items in the Philippines. Wilton is the number one brand for cake decorating items worldwide. visit their webstore to order online or know thier branch locations. 8123022 Gourdo’s delivers. http://www.gourdos.com

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    o Contact No.:913-2991

    * Gourdo’s World Market Alabang Town Center
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    * Gourdo’s World Market Greenbelt 2
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    o Contact No.:

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    o Address :R1 and R2 Upper Level, Promenade Mall Greenhills Shopping Center, Ortigas Ave. Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila
    o Contact No.:744-3087

    * Living Well Home Store SM Mall of Asia
    o Address :SM Mall of Asia
    o Contact No.:

    * Living Well Home Store The Podium
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    * Makati
    o Address :3/F Glorietta 4, Ayala Center, Makati City
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    * Sleep Care Alabang Town Center
    o Address :Alabang Town Center
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    o Address :Shangri-la Plaza
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    o Address :Unit G, The Fort Entertainment Complex, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Metro Manila
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    * Trinoma
    o Address :Lobby Level, Trinoma, EDSA Corner North Avenue, Quezon City
    o Contact No.:901-3475

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous- Yes, this is where Grocery used to be.

    [Reply]

  • You should have also checked out the Jipan bakeshop right beside Chef’s Nook. They make the most incredible Monroe (or is it Munro?) bread. It’s quite expensive but well worth it. I always make it a point to buy the bread every time I have to go to Chef’s Nook.

    [Reply]

  • I’ve tried finding Pilar St. everytime I’m riding through San Juan-Mandaluyong route and have yet to find it. It doesn’t help that I get completely lost when I’m there. Argh.

    What caught my eye among the list of things to get at Chef’s nook is fig paste. I love figs! Will expend more gas and energy to find it, pity they aren’t open on Sundays.

    [Reply]

  • How to get to Pilar St from Shaw (kalentong bound): take a right turn at the street in between the Shell station and the Honda service center -that’s Pilar. Chef’s Nook should be a few minutes away, on the right side of the street. You’ll first have to pass the Goldilocks warehouse, an intersection, and Chef’s Nook/Jipan should be within sight (unless you blink) :) –K

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  • I’ve passed this as it is a couple of blocks away from my sister’s house but I never went inside. I never realized how extensive their supply is! I’ll have to go in next time.

    [Reply]

  • I haven’t had the chance to visit chef’s nook but i’ve heard about though. is it near sm megamall? i have so sense of direction have no idea where pilar street is. can anyone give/draw me a map or something?

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  • are the prices reasonable? I often go to cooks exchange however i often find their prices ridiculus

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  • So this is what the place looks like! I always pass by it but never got the chance to go in!! I’ll try to drop by soon!! hehe…

    Thanks Lori!!

    [Reply]

  • Wow! That really does look like every bit a wonderland! I am so there Lori…thank you so much for passing this along :)

    It was nice seeing you, btw, despite our escalators going in opposite directions :)

    [Reply]

  • so happy you posted this! i hope they have thai iced tea syrup!

    and i know how to get there! i used to stop by grocery when i was a teenager and my ex lives 2 blocks away from there :D hahaha!

    [Reply]

  • darra,

    I think what they have is the tea leaves for thai iced tea. All you have to do is brew it in the coffee maker and put evap.

    [Reply]

  • Ooohh I remember that article in Food Magazine. Until now, I haven’t been to Chef’s Nook

    [Reply]

  • I promised myself I would visit that place a long time ago after reading about it (where else but) here! I’ve completely forgotten about it until now.

    Now, I must find a free weekend to fulfill that promise! :) I so need quality bakeware and not these flimsy “bendable” aluminum wares of mine.

    [Reply]

  • on shaw boulevard, head towards kalentong.

    after the Shell gas station (and across Pure Gold), turn RIGHT.

    drive up about 50 meters.

    you’ll see Chef’s Nook next to Jipan.

    Lor, my driving is NOT THAT BAD. :)

    [Reply]

  • I’m selling fresh kaffir lime leaves. Give me a price then we’ll see how. Just send an SMS to 09279022034

    [Reply]

  • I always buy the Monroe Bread from Jipan and always see Chef’sNook but never even bothered to look inside. well now i have better reasons to check out their items. thanks for posting it here.

    [Reply]

  • I must say, that I am so very disappointed with this store!! I came all the way from Cavite after reading this blog and when I got there, I was shocked that you even consider this store one of the BEST!

    First of all, their store was very dark and you can hardly see anything they are selling. The only place in the store that had ventilation and air conditioning was inside their refrigerator.

    The place smelled like a pet shop! My friend thought they were selling pet food as well because of the musty, weird smell! It was so disgusting.

    Their CRISCO vegetable shortening is so dusty and GOD KNOWS how long it’s been there on the shelf and they charged PhP 20.00 more expensive than from the supermarket! They didn’t have Vanilla Extract (?!?), one of the most basic baking ingredients in the baking world.

    When I asked when they might have a delivery, the lady behind the counter answered me with a smug “ewan ko sa boss ko”, who didn’t even look up because she was busy texting.

    I was peering down one of the shelves when I saw a rat go by. That is so unsanitary! I guess these people aren’t so concerned about leptospirosis.

    I didn’t want to leave without getting anything,just so at least I can have something to show for my long drive to Mandaluyong. I asked if they sold flour by the bulk, and guess what? THEY DIDN’T.

    This store is one of the worst stores ever. If you people out there are as much a baking enthusiast as I am, you will not waste your time coming to this store. The REMAINING dusty ingredients they have in this store you can most probably find in bigger supermarkets.

    I think you (blogger) should go back to Chef’s Nook once again and do a retraction on what you wrote here. Your blog is so deceiving. What a waste of time. If you wrote this 2 years ago, then maybe it’s time to visit again and write a new review for your readers.

    [Reply]

  • This article was written 3 years ago. Considering the timeline, I think it’s unfair to say that Lori’s blog is deceiving. You (Sam Araneta) should have just asked her to do another review and not dwell on the fact that you wasted your time and her blog is deceiving. For heaven’s sake, who knows what happened to the store after 2006!

    [Reply]

  • I am still disappointed. Why don’t you go there and see for yourself.

    [Reply]

  • may bensdorf cocao ba ang chef nook?

    [Reply]

  • i called to ask how much the silpat is and what are the sizes available.the one who answered was not helpful at all. she knows the price all right but she doesnt know the exact measurement of the “regular size”. thanks to the comment of sam araneta. i’m thinking twice about visiting this place.

    [Reply]

  • hello im john a management student from Notre Dame of Marbel University in south Cotabato, Mindanao.

    i have viewed your site and i am very amazed on what is in it..
    for now im having my Feasibility study, which is required in our course subject.
    and since me and my group are proposing a business, somewhat like a store which only caters baking ingredients and utensils, here in south cotabato.and i have found your site UREKA!!! its a big help for data gathering…
    because theres no store as such…here in our place
    im looking forward for your kind response…thank you…

    [Reply]

  • mgkano silpat? from wer yung girl n taga cavite, kasi may bakery supplies naman dito sa binakayan, imus, zapote, cavite city…etc

    [Reply]

  • hi, browniegirl. san ang bakery supplies sa cavite? may chocolate bars ba for baking at cream cheese? i’m from bacoor

    [Reply]

  • Hi!

    Do you know a shop where i can buy a cookie and nut grinder?

    Thanks..

    [Reply]

  • WOW I will have to check out that place myself – It seems they have everything that a typical cook needs. – Pinoy Pride

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori!

    Would you know if they have butterscotch or toffee chips? or other chips/bits other than vanilla and chocolate?

    If not, would you know where they are sold? :)

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • hi lori!

    i’ve been searching relentlessly for a store where i could buy CITRIC ACID.

    you seem to know a lot about tiny gems of stores around the metro.

    where can i buy citric acid in metro manila? i don’t see them readily available in grocery stores.

    thanks!

    Citric acid is available in drugstores.

    –lori

    [Reply]

  • Hi everyone…do you have any clue where I can actually get edible gold leaf or edible gold powder? I need this to decorate my parents’ golden wedding anniversary cake. Pls help. Thanks a lot!

    [Reply]

  • Hello to everyone… its urgent…. does anyone know where to buy peanut grinder or any alternative for grinding peanuts? please reply asap if anyone knows where…

    [Reply]

    JayD Reply:

    food processor?

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori,

    First of all, I think you’re doing a bang-up job with the blog. I think that we tend to forget that this is a blog, not a job, not a broadsheet. That you give credible reviews is something we are grateful for—but not entitled to as though you were in our employ. So there are no “should”s here, like how you SHOULD review a place, how often you SHOULD update a review. Everything anyone with a working IQ needs to know is here: when the blog was written, where to find the place, contact info. And while it serves people well to remark about the decline of what was once lauded as a good place, complaints, especially cantankerous ones, should be taken up with the place itself. A simple “I was there and the place was no longer as good as it was in your review. They didn’t have this or that, it was dark, dusty, and home to a rodent” would have done. In short, kung may reklamo, ayan ang number. Copy and paste lang katapat niyan.

    [Reply]

  • Hey Lori, may I know the price of Demarie Silpats? Thanks and regards!

    Isay

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Isay-
    I haven’t been back to Chefs’ Nook in some time so I don’t know the current price. Best to call them. Thanks.

    –lori

    [Reply]

  • For Cake Decorating Materials and items – Gourdo’s stores is the best. Apparently Gourdo’s got the license to the brand Wilton – and apparently Wilton is the number one brand for cake decorating materials. with over 10,000 items to make tons of different designs. visit gourdo’s website at http://www.gourdos.com to check out their cake decorating items. they deliver too. great customer service =)

    [Reply]

  • I’m glad I bumped into your blog. I have been looking for a place in Manila which sells ingredients for Thai food. This is a must-visit place indeed!

    [Reply]

  • Hi,

    I’m wondering kung sino may alam na bilihan ng chocolate morsels like the quality sold at Cook’s exchange and Bakers’ depot? Kasi may nagsabi sa kin na meron daw somewhere sa commonwealth, including packaging. Cheap daw. Please help.

    [Reply]

  • Cocoa powder – compare to Bensdorp & Hersheys at a lot less! Chocolate bars (bittersweet, semisweet, premium, darksweet & white) also for sale! Contact 09153214848 & we’ll text you prices :)

    [Reply]

  • you guys know where i can shop for quality swiss knives? :) im actually looking for a specific kuhn rikon.. comes with diff colors.. and im frustrated not finding it yet :(

    [Reply]

  • Anyone knows wheere to buy toffee bits? Thanka

    [Reply]

  • how much are the silpats? hope to hear from you ^^

    [Reply]

  • there’s a new store in Makati that sells coffee, cupcakes and baking supplies (including boxes), its located at Isabelle Royale Hotel, 4343 Valdez st. Brgy Poblacion, Makati..all reasonably price and retail(small quantities) are available, from candy sprinkles to nuts and boxes..

    [Reply]

    joan Reply:

    ms. gheng101… is the store at makati in poblacion near st.paul? is it still open? i hope you reply po, thanks..

    [Reply]

    Gheng101 Reply:

    Ms. Joan, yes po, the store is open monday to saturday 9am to 7pm.

    [Reply]

  • hi there! just wanted to ask if you knew where to find square white plastic containers with clear covers.. just like the container for tiramisu. i went to choc lovers and they only had the clear plastic ones na flip top na madaling masira and mag crack. thanks in advance!

    [Reply]

  • try dough it all located in bf homes paranaque city http://www.facebook.com/doughitall

    [Reply]

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