It’s certainly a catchy gimmick ”“ take an ordinary word, change the spelling, and voila, people start paying attention.
That’s the concept behind Qitchen, (yep, kitchen with a “Q”), a home-based food business that specializes in what they call “hot specialties, frozen foods, and sweet treats.” Of course I’m most interested in the dessert, thus the photos of only sweets on this page.
Qitchen is run by Sharlene Tan, who named the business after her favorite part of the house. Originally a baking venture called Streusel, it’s now expanded into Qitchen, but with three categories — Hot Qitchen, Cold Qitchen, and Pastry Qitchen. Sharlene and her sister Jessica, who are responsible for Pastry, have been cooking and baking since they were 10. Of course talent at such a young age can’t go unnoticed, so it wasn’t long before relatives and friends began to take notice of Sharlene’s embutido and four-cheese lasagna, among others. Soon after college, Sharlene decided to zoom head-on into the food business.
Hot Qitchen, which is run by Sharlene’s mom and the family’s long-time cook, consists of home-cooked specialties ranging from Pinoy to American. Cold Qitchen on the other hand, offers dimsum favorites: siopao, siomai, radish cake, etc. Everything offered on Qitchen’s product list are road-tested favorites of Sharlene’s family, relatives and friends.
The Pastry Qitchen is a bounty of familiar treats that include cakes — chocolate, strawberry shortcake, rum; as well as banana cream pie and tiramisu. Miniatures of old-time favorites are offered as well: chocolate squares, apple crumble, carrot squares, cheese macaroons, and food for the gods.
In my book, anything that’s got bananas in it is already a winner. And if it’s in pie, that just does it for me. This is Qitchen’s banana cream pie (P250/P500 ”“ mini/regular): the thickest layer of custard I’ve ever seen on a pie of this sort blanketing a bed of banana slices resting on a graham cracker crust. Topping this celestial vision is a crown of whipped cream cleverly swirled and dusted with cookie crumbs. Eating this pie is for me, a sensual meditation, an almost-trance of which I wish not to awake from.
I have found the strawberry shortcake of my dreams, and let me tell you that it’s even better than Mrs. Yulo’s, Manila’s official benchmark for strawberry shortcake. All strawberry shortcakes in Manila look the same ”“ a majestic cake (almost always chiffon) cloaked in whipped cream icing, garnished with strawberries. The differences only emerge when the cake is cut ”“ differences in texture, crumb, and will it have strawberries in the layered filling?
My first bite of Qitchen’s strawberry shortcake (P500) had such an intoxicating effect on me that I did the strangest thing: with my finger, I prodded the interior crumb of the cake, delighting in its supple texture. Then surprising even myself, I stuck my face close to the cake and inhaled deeply. Ahhh, the sublime smell of cream and vanilla. Boo, who’s gotten used to her mom’s obsessive love affair with all things sweet, hardly noticed my peculiar behavior. She was too busy licking off the icing and eating her favorite part, the strawberries.
Qitchen also does a peach shortcake (P750), and mango shortcake.
Some years back, I was at a loss as to how to decorate my newly-frosted carrot cake. I don’t do marzipan carrots, so in a fit of creativity (or maybe desperation), I grabbed a leftover carrot and grated it over the cake. Qitchen’s carrot cake (P450) reminds me of that time, although theirs is more fancifully done. This is their signature dessert, dubbed super moist and nutritious. While I doubt the nutritious part for piggish reasons, I whole-heartedly attest to it being super-moist.
There are those who believe that a cake is simply a vehicle for frosting, though there isn’t a whole lot of it on this cake. All you get is what you see on the top, but when you consider the juiciness of the carrots, the tang of the cream cheese frosting, the crunch of walnuts, and the moistness overall, you’ll realize that not so much frosting isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Visit their website for product list and contact info.