Review: Plaza Mocha Cafe and Gourmet

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Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. All the dishes you see in this post, I bought with my own monies.

I haven’t done a food review in a while and I thought now’s the best time to begin again. After all, my food category has been gathering dust since 2012 (!) I’ll start my first review with a local cafe/resto that’s closest to my heart: Plaza Mocha.

Located on Gomez street in my hometown Paniqui, Plaza Mocha offers a great selection of drinks and dishes, particularly frappes, breakfast meals, pasta dishes, and sandwiches. For most locals, Plaza Mocha is the hippest resto in town, I can’t tell you how many times we waited in line to get seated.

But you know, the joint is actually an old haunt. My then-boyfriend and I used to eat at Plaza Mocha all the time back when the place was new and tiny. The resto was renovated last year and it’s been a hit ever since. Apart from the larger dining area, the newly-renovated Plaza Mocha introduced new dishes. And you know food and me, we’re tight!

Tuna Belly with Aioli Sauce

One of my personal favorites from the menu is the tuna belly. The dish consists of an aioli-drenched tuna belly on a bed of sauteed vegetables. It also comes with, a side of salad, French beans, a lemon slice and a dipping sauce.

Plaza Mocha

The dipping sauce, I never use because it distracts the taste buds from the delicate flavor of the tuna. I just give the tuna a good squeeze of lemon and it’s perfect!

Plaza Mocha

There was never a time when my tuna came out dry or bland. The meat is always moist, flavorful, and perfectly seasoned. This is my go-to dish and I won’t be surprised if it’s Plaza Mocha’s bestseller.

Baby Back Ribs

My second favorite dish to order is the Baby Back Ribs. Or as I call it, dinosaur ribs. If there’s one thing you need to know about this joint, the portions are massive. The baby back ribs, for example, is so huge, it’s best for sharing. It’s not the kind of meal to get if you’re feeling a bit peckish.

With this dish, you better get your game face on. Whenever a plateful of this dish arrives at the table, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by all the meat!

The dish consists of a rack of rib with buttered potatoes and carrots. Served on the side is a special BBQ sauce. Judging by the taste, the sauce is the reduced version of the rib’s marinade but don’t quote me on that. As for the taste, I like it. The meat is tender, moist, and slathered well with the BBQ sauce.

I would’ve loved this dish more if it’s not too similar to my mother’s barbecued ribs. The taste between this dish and my mom’s BBQ ribs was so identical, I wasn’t as blown away as my husband. This is my husband’s favorite, BTW. If Plaza Mocha is too full and he didn’t get his ribs fix, he throws a (rare) hissy fit.

If there’s one thing I’m not too crazy about this dish, it’s that there were a couple of times when the meat wasn’t browned well. Like, it was taken from the oven too soon, if that makes sense. It’s cooked well done but it could use a little browning for added flavor.

Chicken Steak

UPDATE: Plaza Mocha made adjustments to the recipe, it seems. The peanut sauce has been changed and the chicken is no longer dry. It still looks the same tho

This is one of Plaza Mocha’s newest dish, I’m not even sure what it’s called so I hope I got this right. I will say, right off the bat, that I’m not crazy about this dish, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before ordering, I was under the impression that the chicken used was the breast part because the dish does have the word “steak” in it. But no, the dish comes with not 1 but 4 chicken drumsticks! It’s quite affordable so you do get a lot of bang for your buck with this hefty dish.

As you can see, the chicken is served with a portion of greens, which I thought was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the chicken meat was too fried to the point that it came out dry and gummy. To me, the sauce tasted much like peanut sauce, which I didn’t love.

To be clear, I’m a peanut butter whore. I love peanut butter so damn much I have two huge bottles of it at home. But when used to flavor sauces, I just don’t like it. This dish is bland and on the sweetish side. This is a matter of personal preference but I really cannot tolerate sweetness in any savory dish.

Pulled Pork Soft Tacos

Yes, the pic looks unnaturally bright, I just pulled the image from my Instagram. It seems like I deleted the original photo. This is another one of my personal favorites.

Plaza Mocha

The lightly toasted soft tacos are filled with heaps of pulled pork, juicy mangoes, and shredded cabbage. They are topped with a creamy sauce that complemented the robust flavors of the pork. The diced ripe mangoes paired with a drizzle of lemon juice cuts through the richness of the meat perfectly.

I love the balanced flavors, the play of textures, the delicious mouthfeel, and the fabulous presentation.  No cons, there was never a time that my order came out wrong. A must-try!

Spicy Buffalo Wings

This is one of my hub’s favorite, it’s a typical buffalo wings dish with a spicy kick. Plaza Mocha offers two types of buffalo wings, the one with honey and the spicy one. I’ve tried both.

The spicy buffalo wings come with a creamy dip on the side as well as blanched (?) carrots and celery. Plaza Mocha has been serving this white dip since forever and it’s stupid good.

I don’t eat carrots and celery but when drenched with this dip, so nice. This is an old picture pulled from the cafe’s fan page so it’s a little dated. If memory serves correctly, they don’t serve the wings this way anymore.

Plaza Mocha
Photo Credit: Plaza Mocha Facebook

As for the buffalo wings, they’re fabulous. The chicken meat is tender, perfectly seasoned. It’s not dry or gummy at all.

Just to be clear, I don’t like buffalo wings in general because they’re sweet and I hate sweet dishes. But I’ve eaten my fair share of buffalo wings in the past so I know these tasted great. Not something I would order but this dish always ends up on our table somehow. We always order the wings and onion rings combo.

My only gripe is that this isn’t spicy enough. But then again, heat tolerance is relative. I make chili flakes at home using fresh chilies so our taste buds are probably dead from the constant heat if I’m being completely honest. So what’s spicy to you might be a little weak for me. To get the heat level up, we always tell the cashier to pump up the chili.

(Update:  it seems like the reason why the buffalo wings were sweet was because the husband actually ordered the honey-glazed variant but had the order tweaked to add the heat so I mistook the wings for the spicy variant. Apologies for the confusion!)

Meaty Cheese Spaghetti

I’ve no idea what this pasta dish is really called but I know it had meat and cheese in it. This is my little bro’s favorite dish. The pasta is drenched with red sauce, ground beef, and sliced sausages or hotdogs then topped with lots of gooey cheese.

Plaza Mocha

This dish is indeed extra meaty, Plaza Mocha never scrimps on the ingredients. That said, this is a classic Filipino pasta so it’s on the sweet side. I guess this will appeal to children mostly.

Pesto Pasta

If you know me, then you know I don’t order pasta dishes often. The last time I ordered a pasta dish at Plaza Mocha, I had this:

Plaza Mocha

It’s so good, the pesto sauce tasted freshly made, man. The pasta was cooked perfectly. The serving is massive too, perfect for those who have a huge appetite. To reiterate. Plaza Mocha didn’t hold back on the ingredients.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Plaza Mocha is a nice place to eat/chill out, if you don’t mind the slight wait. The place is always packed for a reason.

The food is great and the desserts are fabulous. What sets the Cafe apart from others is the customer service. The attentiveness, warmth, and the effort of the staff members to build relationships with patrons is something that no restos in this town could imitate.

If there’s one thing I hope the cafe would work on, it’s the selection of the dishes. Don’t get me wrong, the menu is great as is but expanding the rice meals (more pork/chicken options as well as adding a beef rice meal), perhaps adding pizzas, etc., would’ve completed their lineup.

For first-time diners, go for the tuna, the ribs, the soft tacos, and the pasta dishes. We also love the nori fries and the onion rings. The breakfast options deserve a special shoutout too!

This review is getting a little too long but I’m not done. I will post another in-depth review of Plaza Mocha’s desserts and drinks soon.

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Tina Lee

Tina Lee-Almazar is a writer with an insatiable appetite for all things bright, shiny, and beautiful. She's a beauty junkie, a shopping connoisseur, a book collector, and a purse addict. Tina has a long-standing (and well-documented!) but one-sided love affair with cats. Special talents include: the ability to eat again an hour after eating, shopping at 3 different malls in 1 day, and taking a 3-hour power nap every day including weekends.

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