July 15, 2019
On tacos and tequila
CHINO MNL turns a year old—and it still remains the city's biggest culinary secret.
We need to get a few things out of the way.
Yes, Isabelle Daza of the Instagram-famous It Girls co-owns the curiously named FRNK Milk Bar. Yes, it’s pronounced “Frank,” as in the name and also, more intentionally, the word for “honest”. No, Isabelle doesn’t man the counter to dole out matcha lattes to the raving hordes of Glorietta but, yes, she was deeply involved with the milk bar’s development process.
You wouldn’t be surprised, then, to find that FRNK has more than a whiff of millennial chicness to it. The little shop, tucked in a nondescript corner in Glorietta 3, is pure eye candy, quite literally. The interior is glazed with a balmy, pretty-in-pink sweetness; like an incredibly stylish fever dream fueled by sour tape and licorice. Arched windows tinted hot, hot pink lend everything inside a cotton candy glow and the marble tabletops almost look nougatine in the sugary haze.
It’s all rather darling and dizzying, and you’d be forgiven for forgetting that they sold green tea here in the first place.
FRNK, it seems, is fairly obsessed with being everything that your average teashop isn’t. In fact, they insist that they don’t even sell milk tea in the first place. “Even if we sell matcha, we aren’t actually doing milk tea,” says Mathew Chan from the marketing team. “Our drinks are mostly milk-focused. That’s why we call ourselves a Japanese-style milk bar. It’s really about the milk.”
Whether what FRNK sells is actually milk tea is up for debate, but milk (dairy for the purists, nut or rice for the health food heretics) is clearly the focus here and their menu definitely puts it to work. Here you will find milk that is infused and layered and stirred, with rivers of cinnamon-brown syrup running through it and matcha worked up into a hearty froth poured ever so carefully on top. And oh is that Morihan matcha from Kyoto a thing of beauty—floral, complex and delicate where lesser teas are grassy
You would be wise to head straight for the matcha-focused Ichigo (a surprisingly delicate mix of strawberries, basil seeds and tea) or Matcha Kukki (sweeter, headier, and all about the green stuff) with a side of their nutty checkered matcha biscuits, because great tea always calls for good cookies. The more milk-focused Cinnamon Miruku and Spiced Cocoa Popsicle are also definitely worth a sip —rich, spicy and just a little bit darker than you had imagined.
Also—for what it’s worth—everything served at FRNK is sweetened just right, almost as if they knew that the candy-sweet stylings of their adorable little space were more than enough.
FRNK Milk Bar is open Mondays to Sundays, 11:00 am to 9 pm, at the ground floor of Glorietta 3 in Makati.