Happy Place: Mano Café
Neighbourhood Cafe, Mano is a bright, open space serving awesome coffee, salads, sandwiches and cakes.
You Can’t Buy Happiness, But You Can Buy Coffee at Mano and That’s Pretty Close
Mano, mano, man, do I like coffee. Especially when it’s accompanied by cake. And cookies. Maybe some salad to balance it out. So, I was excited to hear that Mano (which has always had delicious coffee) recently re-opened as a neighbourhood café I’m always on the lookout for a great café, and popping over to Paris isn’t always an option. So, I decided to give it a try.
Mano Café opened it’s doors in June and is now owned by the peeps over at Corner Kitchen. If you’ve been to Corner Kitchen Cafe, you know that this marriage a good thing. The cafe itself is bright, open and cheerful, which is also how I would describe the staff. I was actually surprised by how friendly and helpful they were – it really made the whole experience for me and my best friend, who I dragged along so I could order more food. We happily sat in the restaurant for 2 1/2 hours soaking up the good vibes, without ever being told to leave. We even received recommendations from the staff. Well done on your hiring, Mano Cafe. Your crew is ace.
I like the feel of the café itself. There’s a coffee counter where you can order coffee to go, cake stands full of bakery items like scones and glass jars full of cookies, granola and tea bags. The ceilings are nice and high, which makes the whole place feel sunny. The design is clean and a bit industrial. It’s just a nice place to sit. Try to snag a table along the wall so you can take it all in.
The menu is also spot on, exactly what I was hoping it would be. Salads, wraps, burgers and main courses with a South-East Asian twist at reasonable prices. Actually, one of the reasons we sat at Mano Café for so long was because we couldn’t decide what to order. We wanted everything! In the end, we managed to narrow it down to coffee and 3 courses.
I don’t usually take milk in my coffee, but my best friend does. So, she ordered a flat white ($41 for a large, $35 for a small). I was a little jealous when this beautiful coffee came out. And the taste was anything but flat. As Laura said, sometimes a flat white is just milk with espresso… and this was definitely espresso with milk. With a double shot in every coffee drink, it’s no surprise that the espresso reigned supreme.
Although my iced americano ($40) wasn’t as exciting to look at, it was just as delicious. Check out that color! It actually looks like espresso. It had all the flavour of my morning espresso and none of the bitterness I dread. Thank you for not serving me a weak americano, Mano Café .
We couldn’t resist ordering the avocado bruschetta ($65) as a starter. Anything that involves sourdough bread usually gets my vote. Cover it with avocado, tomatoes and radishes and I’m in heaven. It was beautifully presented and a joy to eat. Have you ever eaten something that tastes happy? That was this to me. Vibrant, fresh and healthy. We loved it.
We both wanted the Fiji prawn and corn salad ($95 for a large) but, my best friend won the coin toss. So, I just reached across the table and ate off her plate. Thankfully, she ordered a large (they also do small for $75). We were pleasantly surprised by the size and quantity of the prawns. They were gorgeous and went well with the super mellow, creamy coconut lime dressing (maybe ask for light dressing on this one). The cucumber, grilled corn, cherry tomatoes and chilies gave this salad almost a Santa Fe feel. Kinda wish there’d been more corn because it was noms.
I ordered the smoky turkey salad ($75 small, $95 large) mainly because of the chipotle dressing. I love smoky chipotle peppers. I was hoping it would be good and it was – sweet and spicy, light and rich at the same time. I liked it so much that I had them bring me an extra side of dressing. Much like the prawn salad, this salad had a healthy helping of protein. Every time I thought I’d eaten all of the turkey, I’d find another piece hiding under the mesclun greens or amongst the beetroot, cucumber or cherry tomatoes. I didn’t leave a single lettuce leaf or sunflower seed in my bowl. It was that good.
What’s lunch without dessert? Mano Cafe doesn’t have a dessert menu. They have a dessert display. Smart move, actually, because you get to stare at your options. I loved the look of the frosting on the red velvet cake ($60/slice), so we went for that. It. Was. Heaven. I’m not sure, but I think they snuck marshmallow into the cream cheese frosting. And then toasted it. What? Seriously legit. The cake itself was dense and rich like a good red velvet should be. The checkerboard cookie ($20) was almost too pretty to eat, almost. Nothing to write home about, but a nice biscuit.
So, if you like coffee and cake as much as I do and fancy lining your stomach with some delicious food prior to your dessert, grab your best friend and head over to Mano Cafe. It’s closer than Paris.
Mano Cafe is located on the ground floor of The L Place at 139 Queen’s Road Central. They are open Monday-Saturday from 9:30am – 10:00pm, and Sunday from 7:30am – 10:00pm. Keep up to date with them via their Facebook Page.
Brandie is an American living in Hong Kong with a British husband, a Chinese pug and a Parisian soul. She believes in making bold decisions and living a life full of happiness and laughter. A few years ago, she quit her job as an attorney to explore the world and she blogs about it here: