Sourcing the latest gossip at Arnold Clavio’s cafe
Arnold Clavio is a fine example of a man of success.
We know him today as the hard-hitting radio commentator revealing truths about politicians and other public servants in his morning radio program on dzBB 594. His jolting blind items have earned him a powerful following composed of the masses in general but also politicians, businessmen and other movers and shakers.
But Arnold Clavio—a.k.a. Igan, which is short for “kaibigan (friend)”—is not confined to his radio program. His day starts at 3 a.m. when he gets ready to anchor the morning show Unang Hirit, which runs from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. Mondays to Fridays.
Then he runs to the radio station for Dobol A Sa Dobol B, his radio program with Mike Enriquez and Ali Sotto. He then proceeds to taping for Alisto, aired every Tuesday after Saksi, or his talk show Tonight With Arnold Clavio.
While most of Manila sleeps, he anchors GMA’s live evening news telecast Saksi at 11 p.m.
Somehow, he is also able to squeeze in golf, work on Igan Foundation, draw sketches … and build his own cafe, Kapihan ni Igan, which began operations last December.
Dream come true
Having his own cafe has been a dream of Igan since the late 1990s. The dream was put on hold as his star shined brighter and brighter in media. It only became reality this year when good friend Elmer Ngo invited him to share a dream of putting up a bar.
Initially, they wanted to buy a franchise of an existing cafe. But the price was wrong.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the partners then decided to launch a brand that was all their own: Kapihan ni Igan.
The cafe is now Igan’s personal hideout. He comes here for a drink or for coffee when he can escape from the pressures of being one of the most sought-after television personalities of the country and to hang out with friends.
Admittedly, he cannot be a hands-on cafe owner because of the pressures of his work, but he is lucky to have partners who have designated roles: aside from Elmer Ngo, Malou Yambao asked a Pampangeña chef friend to create the menu, and Ditas Nicolas takes care of marketing.
When I visited on a Tuesday night, the place was packed and walk-ins were there not for Arnold Clavio but for a bottle of San Miguel, proving that the cafe cum bar has something to say for itself.
It’s surprising because the menu is limited. There is an All Day Breakfast menu, which has a variety of silogs (viand+egg+rice); there is bar chow; and then dessert. That’s it!
Best on the menu is the Pritong Native Itik (fried native duck). A simple yet conversation-worthy and inevitably succulent bar chow. Beware of the cholesterol-infused crispy duck skin—the itik, after all, is what produces balut (duck embryo). But it goes so well with a bottle of cold San Mig Light, so what the heck?
The longganisa nachos is another interesting concept. Instead of the usual beef or chili con carne, Igan uses longganisang hubad. It is tart and slightly sour from the tomatoes and onions mixed in.
They also have sisig and Igan is proud of the chicharong bulaklak.
For dessert, try the Yema Cake, which is not too sweet, with a beautiful layer of sugar on top. I would order a box to bring home.
As for service, remember that you are at a hangout and not a five-star hotel. So think of the waiters as your buddies, like Igan does. “Mataas ang respeto ko sa mga waiters (I have great respect for waiters),” the anchor shares. This is because he started out in the kitchen himself.
While in high school, when he won an oratorical contest, he used the P3,000 prize money to buy a toaster. His family then opened the garage of their home across the Dr. Juan Nolasco High School on Herbosa St. in Manila and set up an eatery. They served pan de pizza—pandesal with pizza toppings.
In college, he joined the crew of Kentucky Fried Chicken and claims to know the 11 spices that comprise the secret ingredients of Colonel Sanders’ famous fried chicken. He started out as dishwasher then got promoted to busboy until he finally landed in the kitchen.
He was called Arnold Dishwashernegger (because he was a dishwasher and has a name like Arnold Schwarzenegger).
The good student has come a long way from being a dishwasher at a fried chicken franchise.
The cafe reflects that. Upon entering, you will see a huge signage “Igan” with a caricature of Clavio on the wall to the left. To the right, near the door, are various photos of Igan enjoying coffee. The wall to the right boasts of the Igan Foundation golf tournament trophy as well as other merchandise of the Igan Foundation. And the wall at the far end shows art by Igan himself.
The place is really conducive to what Igan envisioned it to be: A simple space to hang out and unwind with friends.
Kapihan ni Igan (cafe and bar). 1603, 1 Brixton St., Pasig, Metro Manila (street of Locavore). Open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Major credit cards accepted. Parking limited. Wheelchair accessible but incline of parking space is very steep.
*Madrid Fusion 2017. The author will be giving live updates on the Philippines’ participation in Madrid Fusion (in Madrid) on Jan. 23 to 25. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The Philippines has a designated booth at the event, hailed as Europe’s largest gastronomical event.
Filipino chef Myke Tatung Sarthou will be giving a talk on Philippine salts before the delegates on Jan. 24. Catch the livestream on ManilaSpeak.com.
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