Found in the Wilcon City Center along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City, who would’ve thought that this contemporary looking cafe serves… crocodile: Yes, exotic reptile meat up for grabs for you to chomp on (sorry!). From the outside & even from its pretty interior, The Urban Cafe simply exhibits passers-by what its name suggests: it’s a cafe. A look at their menu though would let you know otherwise. Allegedly, there is some sort of an oversupply that its consumption has already been welcomed, thus giving us another meat alternative which apparently is also healthier (fewer calories, less fat, rich in omega-3). This is what this resto has fully embodied as their niche: croc meat dishes conveniently available right here in the city. Read on.
An end product of a tedious & lengthy process of sous-viding, the crocodile meat tocino is a perfect copy of the usual pork type that it would easily fool anyone out of what it really is. The sweet sugary taste, soft tender meat & very well cooked fat bits all mirror the regular tocino that we all know, and in a well-being point, even surpasses it, as again, croc meat has fewer calories. Served a la ToSiLog, the plentiful garlic rice serving, sunny side up egg & veggie chops complete this deceptively simple yet nice meal.
THE URBAN CAFE TINAPANG CROC
Another dish served a la SiLog, the crocodile meat isn’t quite a perfect copy of the usual tapa like the tocino was–which actually made me prefer it more. Unlike the aforementioned which gave me nothing at all to think I was eating an exotic protein, their tapa has a different quality to it that tells your taste buds that it’s eating something new. Don’t get me wrong: it’s very well-flavored & the texture is very much like fried pork sans the oiliness (a 50/50 on the dryness scale), it somehow just had a bit of an exotic character to it. If you’re into the breakfast mood when you go to The Urban Cafe, I’d suggest you try this one over their too-much-like-pork tocino meat.
THE URBAN CAFE DYNAMITE-SHANGHAI-CROC GOODNESS
One of my favorites from the menu, this twist on the usual dynamite mixes croc meat bits and a jalapeño inside a lumpia wrapper. It doesn’t really sound too special from my description, but the savory croc meat’s inclusion gives the cigars an almost Lumpiang Shanghai-like taste, infusing sweetness with the spiciness of the pepper, resulting in a yummy appetizer. The 4 pieces of cigars are of large size, but for PHP 180, the sulit factor is a bit underwhelming.
THE CROC FACTOR
If you do plan to try out the crocodile dishes at The Urban Cafe and intend to FULLY grasp its difference from other meats, this is the one to go for. Sliced from the tail portion of the reptile, the steak had about a 7:3 ratio of meat & fat. The white colored fat chunk had quite a different feel that I can best describe as: a denser, very slightly chewy fish-like fat which tasted like a mix of crab & chicken meat (Whuut?!). It’s that distinct that I’m out of better words for it.
Overall, the dish had a buttery, gravy taste reminiscent of the usual steak served by other restos. It isn’t IN ANY WAY bad, but this was honestly my least preferred dish, mostly because of how peculiar I found the fat to be. Then again, please do remember: this is crocodile meat!
THE URBAN CAFE SISIG NA CROC
I’ve had my taste of various sisig dishes as it’s one of my preferred ulams, and as far as this version goes, here’s my verdict: pork, croc, or whatever kind of meat, Dauntless Sisig is probably ONE OF THE BEST I’ve eaten. Not for those who only eat the crunchy kind, The Urban Cafe‘s take is a bit more giniling-like in texture, which I did find it a bit weird at first. But then once I’ve fully tasted the onion-y flavor of the croc meat grubs which had just the right amount of spiciness, I just couldn’t stop eating, it’s that good. Hands down: my top favorite dish from The Urban Cafe, and there’s a good chance it’ll probably be yours too.
THE URBAN CAFE CROC BBQ
Not much to say about this one. The croc meat was flavored very well with the classic sweet & tangy BBQ marinade. Very well indeed that the inclusion of the tomato & cucumber slices made perfect sense to help tone it down a bit. Overall, a good tasty dish I’d recommend for those who’d like to experience how croc meat taste BBQ’d. Very reminiscent of BBQ rib dishes served on American diners.
THE URBAN CAFE CROC-ON-A-BUN
If you’re looking to get full (with crocodile, that is) but not on a rice-mood, The Urban Cafe’s Urban Croc Burger is your best bet with its hefty burger size and side of thick cut fries. I found the patty itself to be a bit sour & it did broke apart rather easily, but was really satisfied overall considering it was a freakin’ crocodile burger I just ate! Don’t come expecting it to taste like the usual beef & veggies on a bun, coz’ it simply ain’t one. It’s an entirely different breed (or animal) of its own. Another plus to take note of: the patty is made up entirely of crocodile meat, No extenders!
THE URBAN CAFE CROCWURST
Do Pardon the plating(!). Like the Urban Croc Burger, this one’s another heavy tummy filler with that extra super jumbo size of sausage (oooh). Aside from that though, there’s really not much I liked from the dish. I probably expected it to taste similar to sausages I’ve eaten in the past… and i was quite wrong as the crocodile meat’s distinction again was evident on this one. The texture was unique in that it tended to break apart into fine ground meat when chewn. The taste reminded me a bit of those unbranded hotdogs sold on local wet markets but with a hint of pepper mixed in.
THE URBAN CAFE FRAPPE & CHILL
After eating a crocodile meat dish, you should try one of their cafe drinks as well. I got to try out their Mocha Frappe & it actually was very premium! With the almost unflattering amount of cafes here in the Philippines, it’s now kind of hard to discern the frappes that we’ve all tasted. I’ve got to say though that even if it didn’t really stood out against others I’ve tried, their Mocha Frappe is a great option I have no problems choosing the next time I’m into a chill & sip kind of day. And hey, their place is a perfect hang out spot too.
THE URBAN CAFE CROC AT HOME
Loved the taste of croc? take them home with you! Dundee Crocodile Meat refrigerated dishes are sold in the cafe for you to cook at home for your family. Several of the offered dishes in The Urban Cafe are also available like the sisig, tapa, tocino and the sausage. I believe this is a great decision on their part so that the healthier crocodile meat can get more recognition as an alternative protein to more kitchens at home. BTW, these are also available on Shopwise groceries & others.
Approx. budget for 2: PHP 400; Facebook: The Urban Cafe;
Address: Wilcon City Center, 121 Visayas Avenue, Project 8, Quezon City
Originally written August 31, 2016