If there’s one thing I noticed on the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) menu, it’s the creativity. I’m not speaking about design (but yes, that part is also true) but on how the ingredients are packed together and are called as one dish labelled with a relevant-sounding name.
CPK serves mostly pastas and pizzas that are tweaked from the norm to perfection. After reading its menu from cover to cover, I deem that CPK has no shortage of exceptional entrees. In fact, it’s hard to think of another restaurant as jam packed with these many great food finds. I mean, where else can you find Adobo Pizza, Peking Duck Pizza, Thai Pizza and Jamaican Jerk Chicken among many other interesting food in one store?
While we were smack dab in the middle of deciding which one to order, I thought that CPK has been in the Philippines for years now. Actually, it has been 15 years since the first branch opened in Glorieta 3, Ayala Center, Makati City. But I have only dined in here and actually called out orders this once. (Better late than never, right?)
I also must say kudos to Global Restaurant Concepts Inc. for bringing the brand in the Philippines. I read reviews of CPK in other countries and found out that the dishes available to us are different from theirs. Why so? Their website indicates that CPK sells “100-percent Filipino-made and conceptualized” global-inspired dishes with a California twist.
Review of California Pizza Kitchen (Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo)
Who doesn’t love to watch chefs work their magic in the kitchen? In California Pizza Kitchen, diners can catch the action at the open counter which appeared like a fireplace at the back. The lights gave a classy feel and the wall decors contributed as well to the noble setting. Tables can be transformed and assembled to be longer, from squares to rectangles. Seats are of different shapes and sizes: long-seat sofa, regular chairs, high chairs for elevated tables and the individual soft-foam chair.
Service was flawless, and I can’t say anything more.
California Pizza is smart in developing enticing marketing gimmicks that make customers coming back again and again. Upon receipt of the bill, the waiter introduced their membership card program: Subscription fee is PHp 100, for a lifetime (no recurring annual renewal fee). Points are earned and derived from 10% of the current bill and may be used in the next dine-in session for payment. 1 point is equivalent to PHp 1 when used. Card is non-transferable. I was sold on the idea so I got myself a card.
Another thing that can make customers feel good is that for every PHp 1000 spent, CPK gives two pieces of PHp 100 gift certificates that can be used next time in any branch with no expiration.
We ordered the Mushroom Cappuccino Soup (PHp 190), Vegetarian Pizza (PHp 535), Original BBQ Chicken Pizza (PHp 375) and the Fettuccine with garlic cream sauce (PHp 475).
The mushroom cappuccino soup was made with fresh button mushrooms, abalone, Shiitake cream soup topped with milk froth and nutmeg. It almost felt weightless on the tongue but gradually as I mixed the froth with the mushroom soup, it surrendered to multiple waves of nutty melted mushroom purée. I think this soup can be further improved by adding on cubed sautéed croutons and drizzling it with small white marshmallows on top. This recipe can then pass as on a five-star dish and in years become a classic that truly won’t disappoint.
Next, the pizzas. The vegetarian pizza’s toppings were composed of broccoli, grilled eggplant, button mushrooms, red onions, pine nuts, roasted kettle corns and goat cheese. On the other hand, the Original BBQ Chicken pizza was in full-effect amazing. I had never thought that pizzas can be made this way—with defined barbecue flavor and not with the regular tomato base or cheese base sauce—with diced chickens. Both had set our palettes for goodness piled over goodness. Crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, the pizza crusts turned out wonderfully fragrant. And the condiments (chilli flakes, salt, pepper and hot sauce) we infused fitted outrageously well.
You don’t have to resort to blotting the pizzas with paper napkins when you see grease spreading over the top of semi-coagulated cheese like an oil spill, dripping off the edges of a slice, making the whole endeavor treacherous, as there’s none. CPK bakes their pizza with grease just right, unlike most pizza joints do.
As if we weren’t full enough, Mom ordered the Chicken Tequila Fettuccine but requested it to be cooked and served without the chicken. Although without any other add-on, this white-sauce pasta can’t be said as one with light calories attached. It’s creamy, tasty and just satisfying.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
Price didn’t come cheap, but given the quality of their food and the unique tastes, the price fitted the bill reasonably to me. So I don’t have to be drugged, handcuffed and dragged against my will to spend extravagantly to get my next pizza from California Pizza Kitchen.
Sorry, Pizza Hut, Sbarro, Shakey’s and Greenwich, I found my new favorite pizza place. 🙂