The Motorcycle Cafe for Rebellious and Hungry Gentlemen
Wednesday. “Hump day,” as many in the working populace refer to it. Mid-week, paper stacks are ceiling-high and deadlines are suffocating. Likewise, mid-week, there is hope that the weekend is just a couple of days away. It's just that the fuckery of work usually reaches its peak on hump day but, hey, there's a living to be made. Besides, without the struggle, without the stress, indulgence would be hollow. And there's nothing like kicking back and giving work a healthy F.U. (once you've finished all your obligations, of course) on a Wednesday.
Wednesday evening, and inside Motora Azul 1955—a moto-inspired craft coffee shop and lounge located in Mandaluyong's Greenfield District—a bunch of professional-looking folks who look like they flipped work the middle finger as they clocked-out are chilling, having some eats, sipping on strong coffee, and talking about bikes. One of Motora Azul 1955's partners, ace lensman Jake Verzosa—a motorcycle history buff and avid rider himself—simply refers to the place as a “tambayan ng bike community.”
Motora Azul 1955 runs in conjunction with the YZONE flagship shop, the largest Yamaha showroom in the Philippines. During the showroom's day time operating hours, interested buyers can freely shuffle in and out of the cafe and get a drink or a snack while checking out all the awesome bikes. But on Wednesday nights, though the showroom is closed to the public, customers of Motora Azul 1955 freely park their bikes on the sidewalk while passersby gawk at all the shiny metal. (Side note: If, by any chance, you are interested in personalizing your bike, pop in on a Wednesday night and look for Todee Teodoro—a.k.a. the boss when it comes to bike customization).
Inside, the cafe is festooned, floor-to-ceiling, with motorcycle knickknacks. Helmets, fuel tanks, visors, fairings, paintings, prints, photographs, riding videos playing on an LCD screen, and everything else bike-related dictate the general décor of the place. Of course there are bikes on display, too, and it's very cool how, like an art gallery, the motorcycles are always different—like they're on exhibit only for a specific time period. This way, things always seem fresh, where the cafe gets a new look every time a different set of bikes is “curated.”
As for the menu (put together by Chef Peter Ayson, one of the cafe's partners), dishes range from Overloaded Fries to Sashimi to Braised Beef Pares to Yakisoba Noodles, highlighting how the culinary theme is, really, “there is no theme—deal with it.” This is essentially comfort grub that is filling enough to load you up for the homeward stretch, or to put an end to hunger pangs that are a result of a particularly long ride. It's unapologetic and a bit spicy in most places, but it's good.
Pork Belly Bowl
Coffee is always necessary.
The opening of Motora Azul 1955 comes at a time when owning a motorcycle in the Philippines is at its highest. According to data from a 2013 Department of Transportation and Communications–Land Transportation Office (DOTC-LTO) report, there are over four million registered motorcycles zipping through the country. That was three years ago, so the total number of two-wheeled vehicles is probably even higher now. Verzosa adds his two cents, “I think more and more people are getting into bikes because of two things: Greater purchasing power, especially among older people, and also the traffic situation. It's more practical with the traffic nowadays to ride a bike.” True that. In this city, no day is safe from the ungodly road conditions. And having a set of two wheels that can dart in and out of the congestion seems like the best option.
A unique phrase pops into mind when thinking about Metro Manila's traffic woes. “Hump day traffic.” What a terrible combination of words. Still, there is hope. Taking your favorite scoot, you can swiftly negate it all with a quick bike ride to Motora Azul 1955. Flip through the menu and say “Just Make Me a Damn Good Burger.” All will be well. Promise.
Motora Azul is at The Portal, Greenfield District, Sto. Cristo Street, Mandaluyong City; https://www.facebook.com/motoraazul1955.