4 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Choka
Written by GDS | Photographs by Mikki Eduardo
The small barangay of Urbiztondo in San Juan, La Union has established itself as the unquestionable surfing capital of the North. Along with a rise of bars and restaurants, this small surf town gradually became the place to visit when in La Union. With an eclectic mix of beach life, surfing, and now food and beverage, the long journey to LU becomes worthwhile.
Once you go past the curve in the highway hosting the sign that marks your arrival to surf town, you immediately enter a strip of some of the most frequented establishments in the vicinity. Lined densely with restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and the odd hole-in-the-wall cafe, the brightly lit section of surf town San Juan overflows with visitors beginning on the North Swell months of November through the scorching summer ending in May.
Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of Urbiztondo’s main food district is one such hole-in-the-wall: an American-style cafe simply named Choka. Located beside San Juan Surf Resort and right across Angel and Marie’s Place, Choka is open from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm on weekdays (except Wednesday) and up until 1:00 am from Friday to Sunday.
Known for its warm and friendly staff as well as their delicious food with huge servings, Choka is a small and intimate place perfect for those looking to satisfy a colossal appetite. With the prodigious quantity of selections offered on the menu, however, there are a few things that you can overlook when you do get to drop by.
Here are four things you probably didn’t know about Choka:
#4 Choka features an all-day, make-your-own combo breakfast
One of the biggest complaints of out-of-towners, especially for those who arrive early in the morning, is the lack of restaurants that offer breakfast in San Juan, La Union. For the past two years, breakfast has practically been Choka’s wheelhouse.
Their menu consists mainly of early morning staples such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. For breakfast meats, they have spam, bacon, longanisa, giant hotdog, and Spanish sardines. You also have the option of adding two eggs done in any way you like or you can try ordering the sumptuous mushroom and cheese omelette.
Not only does Choka have an option for a create-your-own-combination breakfast meal, they also offer it the whole day. We’ve seen a fair share of patrons order waffles and pancakes at 11 o’clock in the evening, and I must admit they look very tempting. Refillable brewed coffee, which you can also enjoy the whole day, is affordably priced at just P60.00.
#3 Choka is the only place that serves soft serve ice cream in Urbiztondo
Those who’ve been to San Juan during the summertime can attest to one thing: the heat is a killer! With temperatures soaring as high as 95°F (35°C), sometimes all you need for blissful relief is something very cold and sweet to snack on. Choka offers soft serve ice cream in small and medium sized cones at P15 and P25, respectively. Ice cream in a cup costs just P35. Finally, for just P55, they allow you to twirl, all by yourself, an unlimited amount of soft serve as long as it fits inside the waffle cone provided.
For an additional P5, you get sprinkles or syrup on your soft serve ice cream. All in all, the ice cream alone merits a trip to Choka at any time of the day!
#2 Choka’s enormous servings are meant for sharing. Plus there are value meals for those looking for a small yet delicious meal.
Choka has a reputation for large servings. From entrees to sandwiches, and even snacks.
All by yourself? Or on a tight budget? Don’t fret. Choka offers value and combo meals that are filling and affordable. You have a choice between fish fillet and burger steak on a bun or rice. The only difference is a side order of fries or corn for the combo. Both come with complimentary iced tea or lemon cucumber juice.
#1 Choka is operated by the husband-and-wife tandem, Clar and Tats Urquiza.
Mary Clarice Reyna-Urqiuza, simply known as Clar to close friends, has been helping out in her family’s catering business in Bicol since she was 8 years old. “Our family loved to cook,” says Clar. “And our family gatherings always had plenty of food to go around. This, on top of my catering experience, has paved the way for my love of serving great food in bountiful servings that’s worth the customer’s money."
Her husband Kuya Tats prefers to stay in the background in support of Clar. He deals with the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes details of running a busy restaurant. Dealing with stuck doors, plumbing, and other miscellaneous back-end work, Kuya Tats is the solid and calming presence behind their partnership. This arrangement is perfect for the couple, as Clar prefers to talking and interacting with customers, while Tats quietly performs his duties in the background.
The very soul of Choka radiates with the energy brought about by the couple. A warm and welcoming atmosphere permeates throughout the place. Its ambiance encourages cozy bonding sessions with friends or to those seeking a little solitude for themselves.
Visit Choka the next time you are in town! Bring a friend to split meals with.