Before UCC Clockwork was born in 2014, I’ve felt like the UCC brand has not done anything interesting in the local scene. It’s a good thing they decided to step up their game big time with this concept. It would’ve been difficult to catch up to the “Third Wave Coffee Movement” otherwise. Departing from the other UCC’s more typical interiors, UCC Clockwork looks and feels more modernistic, with a bit of that hipster sensibility Third Wave Coffee Shops wear like a badge these days.
Some “third-wave coffee connoisseurs” might turn their noses down on coffee chains like this one, but I actually quite enjoy hanging out at UCC Clockwork. I admit I don’t like how overpriced their mass market coffee products are when compared to how the same items are priced in Japan, but I can’t help but still like the brand. UCC Drip Coffees are one of the things I like to haul from Japan actually. They are not my fave but I still like them a lot.
When it comes to my feelings toward the brand, I think familiarity comes into play. We used to eat at the UCC Cafe quite often when I was younger, many many years ago. Guess that’s why I decided to write about UCC Clockwork. I love the change it has presented!
Anyway, for this review, I actually condensed two visits into one. The pictures I’m sharing of the interiors are a combination of their Bluebay Walk and Grand Venice Canal branches. (Take a guess which belongs to which haha!) Both branches are nicely decorated, though the one in Grand Venice Canal is like a fifth of the size of the Bluebay Walk branch.
I can’t help but love the grays, browns, and clay-colored reds UCC Clockwork uses for their interiors. The colors are easy on the eyes and create an ambiance that invites you to sit and sip another cuppa. I hate it when coffee shops are dark inside, so I really appreciate that UCC Clockwork manages to filter in some pleasing soft light despite their rough-finished walls and industrial details. The place feels hip and classy at the same time without feeling too intimidating, and I like that.
Am I going on too much about the interiors? Because it’s kind of a big deal for me when coffee shops are involved. I have a special place in my heart for coffee shops that make me want to sit still for a long time because I could never get myself to. UCC Clockwork does that for me a little bit. Today though, the focus of this review is more on the food that UCC Clockwork offers rather than the actual coffee.
Manukappuccino (Php 170 for Hot, Php 190 for Iced)
Cappuccino with a healthy boost! UCC’s signature espresso is mixed with low-fat milk and then sweetened with Manuka Honey for a drink that is low-fat, antimicrobial, and an immune system booster. You can ask for the honey to be served on the side.
I am so relieved I asked for the honey on the side instead of already mixed in the drink. To be honest, I don’t even know why I ordered this because I don’t really take my coffee with sweeteners about 90% of the time. I actually like it black. Guess I wanted to see how differently coffee would taste with Manuka Honey?
Unsurprisingly, I did not use up all the Manuka Honey because a little bit was already sweet enough for me. I didn’t want it to overpower the flavor of the coffee. You can imagine that I was thinking of ways NOT to waste this precious and expensive honey, and in the end my brother decided to eat the rest straight out of his spoon haha!
Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast (Php 358)
Limited edition/seasonal offering. A large slice of sourdough bread is the canvas for seasoned mashed avocados, strips of smoked salmon, and even more slices of fresh avocados. To make the dish more filling is a lightly peppered poached egg and a side of salad greens.
Some people hate the idea of putting avocado on a sandwich with other savory stuff, but I am one of many who actually enjoy that. Especially when smoked salmon and poached egg are involved! This was actually great. A bit expensive for toast, to be fair, but I loved everything on the plate! (I think the toast was as big as an adult hand.) I was a goner as soon as that runny golden yolk ran down the side of the toast.
You know what could’ve made this more perfect though? Hot sauce or some chili powder all over the place!
Eggsellent Veggie Benedict (Php 328)
This vegetarian, high-protein version of eggs benedict has some assorted roasted vegetables and mushrooms placed atop two pieces of corn muffins. The poached egg is drizzled with a healthier version of Hollandaise sauce, then topped with some alfalfa sprouts. On the side are some salad greens to complete this healthy meal.
You guys might not know this about me, but I have a weakness for poached eggs or eggs with runny yolks but a firm white part. I love the stuff. So these Veggie Benedicts appealed to me mostly due to that reason, but also because I wanted to try a vegetarian version of the usual Eggs Benedict. I really loved the combination of the roasted veggies and juicy mushrooms, just lightly oiled (with olive oil I hope). The hollandaise sauce was certainly a lighter and less rich version of the original one, but I can’t help but miss the more nuanced flavors of a legit hollandaise haha!
I would have to say the corn muffin (it was like a cross between a pan de sal and an English muffin) were my least favorite element of this dish because it was a little “rubbery” to slice. It isn’t quite as soft and fluffy as I was expecting. Though it looks like two small servings, it’s actually quite filling. I wasn’t able to finish the second portion!
Adobo Floss Pasta Plate (Php 378)
Olive oil based spaghetti tossed with tomatoes, onions, and garlic adobo flakes. On top is a poached egg sprinkled with even more garlic adobo flakes. This pasta is served with a piece of garlic toast.
One of the simpler offerings on the menu. I don’t normally go for oil-based pastas because of how greasy they feel in my mouth so I tried only a little of this. Normally, the problem with adobo flakes is that they are marinated to either too salty or too sweet effect. This one had a balanced taste with crispy adobo flake bits that are good to munch on. The flakes are well distributed so the pasta is nicely flavored throughout.
Smoked Salmon & Cream Pasta (Php 398)
Cream based linguine mixed with cured salmon fillet, spring onions, and a bit of tomatoes. Best with a squeeze of lemon juice. This pasta is also served with a piece of garlic toast.
This pasta was incredibly indulgent. I am not a fan of white cream pasta, but I did take a bite out of this thanks to a love for salmon. As expected, the pasta was creamy and rich, with a nice flavor that wasn’t overbearing. (Or maybe I say that because I had a taste only.) I love that a touch of lemon in the pasta helps to control the richness of the cream sauce. That little tang makes a big difference!
Cajun Prawns Aligue Rice (Php 478)
A dish of marinated cajun prawns sautéed in butter garlic sauce; served with aligue rice and mango salsa.
This one really surprised me by how good it was! The shrimp were cooked nicely but what steals the spotlight is really how well-marinated it is in cajun flavor. The aligue rice here wasn’t as strong or rich as the dish below, but just rightly so– anything too flavorful might clash with the strong flavors of cajun marinade. The mango salsa adds some tang and sweetness to everything. Yum!
Crabby Fatty Omurice (Php 398)
Resting at the center of a river of aligue cream is rice stir-fried with aligue, shredded crab meat, onion, and garlic. Housed inside a layer of fluffy egg, this rice dish is even topped with more shredded crab meat, ebiko (roe), and parsley.
By far the most indulgent dish in this review, this omurice is like a walking cholesterol bomb lol. The aligue or CRAB FAT is not just cooked with the rice– you even have aligue cream all around! There is no shortage in richness or flavor here. There is a linamnam from the cream that the aligue gives. I can imagine aligue lovers going gaga over this! Bonus part: The egg encasing the rice was nice and fluffy! Eating each bite with the aligue cream is a must.
The only problem with this dish is that it’s not always available. I think my brother attempted to try this twice in two different branches before we finally got lucky.
Alhambra (Php 280)
Because UCC Clockwork is not entirely just about coffee, we decided to try out a cocktail from their menu. Honestly, we wanted to get the alcoholic Kori Kohi (or Wild Kori Kohi) but it was NOT AVAILABLE! Why is it so hard to get an order of that!? We ended up with this cocktail instead.
The Alhambra is made with Vodka, Orange, Basil, Lemon, and Red Wine. I could taste the vodka, but squeezing through was also some sweetness from the red wine. This was just okay for me.
The thing that I love most about UCC Clockwork is definitely how extensive their menu is. It’s a great mix of modern and traditional, and a great mix of Filipino, Japanese, and Western dishes that literally provides something for every palate or mood. Whether you’re craving for something rich and “sinful” or something that’s lighter on the palate, you’re bound to find something in the menu. They’ve even got vegetarian options.
Likewise, it is this large menu that seems to bring a lot of difficulty to UCC Clockwork in terms of dish availability. I can’t tell you how many times my brother called or walked in and asked if they had the Alcoholic Kori Kohi or the Crabby Fatty Omurice available, only to be met with disappointment. It’s even more annoying when you get confirmation in the phone call that they have it, only to be told it isn’t available once you get to the restaurant. It’s ironic that the strength of UCC Clockwork is also its weakness. It puts a bit of a damper on the experience considering I am happy about the service, the ambiance, and the quality of the food here.
Nonetheless, I think of UCC Clockwork as a place for splurging when you want to level up your café sessions with your friends or family. It’s not a place I’d visit every day for sure, but it has certainly solidified a certain status in my mind. It is now one of the first names that comes up when I’m in a generous mood for a fancy café that serves solidly good coffee and solidly good food as well.
My rating: 7 out of 10
Ground Floor, Venice Grand Canal Mall,
McKinley Hill, Taguig City
Hours: Mondays to Sundays, 8AM to 11PM
Contact No.: (02) 815 8296
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way and I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.