Dessert Comes First

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

Magnum White King
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An Out of the Way But Worthwhile Dessert Place

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Most people are familiar with Nic’s Gourmet Desserts but not all are aware that it’s got its own little bakery-café.

If you’ve ever been to Seattle’s Best Coffee (SBC), then you’ve probably eaten a sweet made by Nic’s Gourmet Desserts. The Brownie Walnut Cluster (though I think it might be called otherwise in SBC) is a brownie bed laden with caramel sauce and walnuts. I’ve been told that it’s the same company that makes the coffee shop chain’s Banoffee Pie.

Nic’s Gourmet Desserts (Nic’s) is run by Rina Go who named her business after her daughter, Nicole. Already a fan of their Mega Cheese Bread, a staple of mine when I’d chance upon their stall at bazaars, I’m happy to chance upon their eponymous bakery-café deep in the heart of San Juan. This is the location I chose to be shot in for MEGA magazine’s Global Pinoy feature on me. But so out of the way is this location that the makeup crew had difficulty finding it.

I think it’s their location and stylized interiors that contribute to its charm however. Made up to look like a wrapped gift (cake!) box when viewed from the outside, Nic’s operates out of a square storefront, with white and silver predominating. Shelves hold knickknacks and bottled foods but the focus is on the interactive dessert bar where enticement is encouraged and acted upon and lit up beautifully with fitted drop lights. In addition, the natural light streaming in makes the bread products (my favored Mega Cheese Bread, Parmesan Ensaymada, Cinnamon Rolls, etc) especially enticing, scintillating they already are in their cellophane sheets.

A few steps more and there stand the line of glass chillers. The cakes are fastidiously arranged, each perfectly produced and prettified for maximum “kill me with choice” appeal. Naturally, I want a slice of everything, it’s my nature after all. But my restraint is with me today so I settle on three desserts.

The Peach Walnut Pie (lower right in photo) is – if you like sansrival-like desserts – probably the best you’ll try in Manila. I’m not one for meringue or meringue layers stacked atop one another and lacquered with all sorts of buttercream, but my Bin is. He’s rabid about them in fact and I must agree that this specimen before us is exceptional. The meringue layers have an incredulous crackle, their bellies brushed with a lightly sweetened buttercream while peach slices and wayward walnuts merrily add to the mix.

Similar in sentiment but ratcheted up for a more sultry surrender is the Dark Toblerone Sans Rival. Again, those meringue layers – the irresistibility of which I may have underestimated – are a glorious melding of chocolate and nougat (Toblerone!), cashews, and dark buttercream, a crown of all combined is its final garnish. There really is no conversation at the table now, just a combination of crunching and forks cracking into crispy exteriors.

And what of the cakes? Nic’s has plenty to choose from and agonize I do over having to whittle it down to just one. Dark Caramel? Dulce de Leche? I decide on the Dark Javanilla, a composition of coffee and chocolate, tender crumb cloaked in a buttercream kissed by coffee essence. It dependably satisfies my sweet tooth and sometimes, this is the kind of chocolate cake I need.

I’ve only begun to touch on what’s available at Nic’s. This place stands up to and deserves further exploration. They serve full meals and since they’re open at 7am, breakfast makes for a fine option, especially on the weekend when getting lost in San Juan doesn’t make for such a frightening proposition.

My only complaint about Nic’s is that it seems to be overstaffed and a gaggle of them group by the cashier prattling away. Perhaps we can suggest some of them retire to the kitchen so that these fine desserts can be savored properly?

~~

Nic’s Gourmet Desserts

172 A. Mabini St., Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan, Mandaluyong
Open 7 days a week, 10am-10pm
02 715.5831 / 716.0321
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicsbakeshop
On Multiply: nicsbakeshop.multiply.com
nics_bakeshop@yahoo.com

16 Responses to “An Out of the Way But Worthwhile Dessert Place”

  • Nice feature! I only get to try Nic’s in food fairs. I love their products and hope I can one day go to their bakeshop.

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  • Those cakes look glorious. Any directions you could give, coming from Shaw-Edsa Blvd? :)

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    K Reply:

    From EDSA-Shaw, go in the direction of Kalentong/JRU. Take a right on Mabini St. (which has a Shell station and a pre-school on the corners facing each other on Mabini St. and a Puregold across it on Shaw). After passing Suzhou Dimsum on your left, it should be on your right just after passing the Versatemp/ air-con service shop.
    Note: Mabini is a one-way street, so if you reach the intersection with the art gallery, Adobo Putoshop and PUP-San Juan, you have to turn right and find your way back via Wack-Wack st. (here’s the link to the map) :D

    http://goo.gl/maps/Jp32

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    Lori Reply:

    K is my star navigator, DCF people! Her directions are impeccable.

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  • thanks for this feature, lori! i think i’ve sampled nic’s products at the baker’s dozen in power plant mall one time. like you, i have a problem with overstaffed establishments (like SM, where i’m constantly being followed by the sales crew), it can be really irritating.

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  • Lori, you didn’t try the lemon squares? :O They’re my favorite from Nic’s!

    http://thebelatedbloomer.blogspot.com

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    Lori Reply:

    Abi-
    I’ll try the lemon squares next.

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  • Stop.

    You had me at Toblerone.

    You had me at Toblerone…

    (*sob!*)

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    Lori Reply:

    Spanky,
    A flair for the dramatic, that’s you! :p Have replied to this on your FB page. What say I buy you the entire cake?

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    Spanky Hizon Enriquez Reply:

    (*sob!*)

    tears of joy : )

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  • My friend and I went there yesterday afternoon and, you’re right, the cakes are GLORIOUS indeed! My friend got the red velvet cake and I tried their peach walnut pie and I must say they are truly wonderful… Some of their savory fares, however, tend to be a bit expensive so we’ll probably stick to their desserts in the meantime.

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    Lori Reply:

    Hi Noel Q,
    I’m glad you went and enjoyed yourself. Thanks for sharing your experience here on DCF.

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  • Always pass by this place but never had the impetus to stop. That peach walnut pie is reason enough not to ignore Nic’s ever again.

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  • hi lori,

    i decided to have dinner there because of this post, but just ended up angry at how rude and unprofessional the staff was. over-all, a definte pampanira.

    it seems like they don’t want any business. i looked up their email address and notified them about what happened.

    in case anyone wanted to know what transpired –

    1) Last night, I called to ask directions. The woman who answered my call didn’t know how to get to the shop, and wasn’t in a hurry to ask someone else so she could tell me. She just told me to hold, and left me waiting for a minute. I didn’t hear her asking anyone, nor did I hear any sound that meant my call and question was important. After that, I put the phone down and didn’t call back.

    2) Tonight, after consulting Google Maps, I found out how to get there, and arrived at the shop on or before 8.20pm. The 2 women who greeted me were polite. One of them clarified if my friend and I were dining in, and we said yes; she just said that the last call was at 8.30pm, and that they close at 9pm. We said yes, great, we were just in time. She then led us to a table and handed us menus. When my friend placed her order for Milk Fish Rolls, we were told that it was unavailable. When I placed an order for a salad, we were again informed that it was unavailable. So we asked what was available, and the woman said that all we could have were breads, pastries, and the lasagna that were displayed. A woman who appeared to be the cook then came out, and in unison with the other woman, they informed us all of the following multiple times:
    - They close at 9pm. They really go home at 9pm. (This was said many many times, until I said, “Yes, I get it. You go home at 9pm, and you said last call is 8.30pm. And right now, it’s a little bit before 8.30pm, so what’s the problem?”)
    - From 8.30 to 9pm, they can only accommodate takeout. So why did they say ok after clarifying we were dining in?
    Finally, the cook said in an unpleasant way, “Sige na, paglulutan ko na kayo. Para hindi na mag-argue.”
    My friend and I walked out, so much more stressed and upset than when we first walked in.

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  • I live in San Juan and saw by this shop recently. I gotta try this place. Looks really cozy.

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  • Their Cakes are really awesome. Staffs are very approachable too. I love their wheat crisps and the tomato basil dip is a must try! The pristine interior’s very inviting and homey. Babalikan talaga =)

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