KEBAB KONNER: SERVING HALAL FOOD IN BAGUIO CITY

Days nearing the holidays are supposed to be not-the-usual-busy-days, but the 23rd of December 2015 was different.  The legal minds at the Justice Hall of Baguio City were awashed and deluged with legal errands and so after being mentally exhausted, we just decided to “volt-in” for lunch. Joining me as the main cast for today’s food adventure are Judge Glenda T. Ortiz-Soriano, Prosecutor Nimia Peralta, Atty. Louella Navarro and Atty. Bernard Allan Angeles.  My relatively new clunker was supposed to drive us for this luncheon escapade but upon seeing Prosecutor Nimia’s new ride, we decided for her to play the role of a driver.  She played the role very well in just one take and I commend her for that.

We braved the traffic laden Session Road not knowing where to go and since Prosecutor Nimia was growing impatient, which is not supposedly part of her role as a driver, we feared that she will just drive us through Mc Donald’s and order fries since she earlier threatened that she was not hungry anyway. That would be the worst food adventure ever and so we all released a sigh of relief when Atty. Bernard quickly suggested that we try, tada….

kebab konner signage

KEBAB KONNER along Session Road, Baguio City.

I have seen this restaurant before but I never dared to try.  Now, let me see what this bhojanalay (restaurant in Hindi) has to offer, forgive me if I did not use the word correctly. 🙂

Most of the time that I pass through Kebab Konner, I see it like this…

first floor kebab konner
Kebab Konner’s First Floor for Casual Dining.

I usually see this empty so that was probably the reason that Kebab Konner never appealed to me.  I have this notion that if a restaurant is mostly empty, they are probably offering something that is not worth trying.  When I entered this hall, I was surprised that they actually have a second level for – calm dining. I was not able to take a photo of a sign outside which says:  “First Floor for Casual Dining, Second Floor for Calm Dining”.  Since I really don’t know what they meant by calm dining,  I took a deep breath, checked my heartbeat and made sure that I was calm before I went to the second floor.

second floor
Second floor of Kebab Konner. When we went there we felt the calmness. Very calm indeed.  The tables were empty except for two, we were occupying the second. They are probably mostly full during the evening. I don’t know, since this is my first time.
second floor 2 kebab
The guests from the first table were literally calm but when we arrived, the place became chaotic! hehe. I love the view here, the curtains and the pieces of furniture gave me the feel of something mediterranean, which I think what they were trying to achieve and they are successful with that.

Before we placed our orders, the paparazzis asked if they could take our photos and so we obliged just to avoid commotion…

pre lunch kebab
From left to right: Talent Manager and Movie Producer Judge Glenda T. Ortiz-Soriano, Make up artist and personal assistant to the stars Atty. Louella Navarro, chauffer Prosecutor Nimia Peralta, Celebrity Blogger Atty. Dexter Diwas, and High Fashen Male Model Atty. Bernard Allan “Shoti Garotti” Angeles.

The paparazzis were not satisfied with the first photo and so…

shoti kebab
The more high fashen vershen of Shoti Garotti came out.

Still not satisfied, a paparazzi took the inconvenience of taking an aerial view of us:

pa cute shot kebab

The management was about to kick us out so we hurriedly browsed at their menu and asked for their best sellers.  They have a wide range of entrees to choose from and you can easily navigate your way through this…

menu navigator kebab
We used this to guide us in placing our order plus the inputs of Judge Glenda T. Ortiz-Soriano who obviously came here not for the first time.

Let’s get to work and see what KEBAB KONNER has to offer:

For our appetizer, we had HUMMUS.  According to our menu navigator, this is a MUST TRY to complete your KEBAB KONNER experience.

humus kebab
The one in the oval shaped plate is, according to the menu, the best middle eastern dip made from freshly cooked chickpeas, pureed with tahini, garlic and lemon juice. In the basket is pita bread. I asked my lunch buddies’ opinion about the appetizer and they gladly weighed in. Atty. Angeles said he thinks the dip did not have much tahini on it and it would have been better with more tahini. Judge Glenda also noticed the fact that it had lesser tahini but she said she loved it that way. Atty. Navarro nodded for reasons I do not know. Prosecutor Nimia smiled and probably wondered where Tahini went. I pretended to know what tahini was up to. But while writing this article, here is what I found out – Tahini /tɑːˈhiːni/ (also tahina /tɑːˈhiːnə/; Arabic: طحينة‎) is an oily paste made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds used in North African, Armenian, Greek, Israeli, Cypriot, Iranian, Turkish, Iraqi, and Levantine cuisines. Tahini is served as a dip on its own or as a major component of hummus, baba ghanoush, and halva.

To me, whether it was with tahini or not and since I could not distinguish the difference, the HUMMUS appetizer was a winner. 🙂 I loved it and it stimulated my appetite for the main course, just like an appetizer would really do.

I did not know how to eat the HUMMUS but some of us devoured it by dipping the PITA BREAD into the HUMMUS or by spreading the HUMMUS to the PITA BREAD.  Here is what I did:

hummus spread
I spread the hummus on my pita bread and it changed my life.

Anyway, we had the following main entrees:

LAMB BIRYANI 

LAMB BIRYANI MUST TRY
LAMB BIRYANI @ KEBAB KONNER.

Tender lamb combined with Biryani rice mixed with special spices.  I love how another website described this to be a “festive dish”.  Accordingly, this is good for 2 to 3 persons if this is the only dish that you will order.  But considering that we had other orders, 5 of us experienced the tenderness of the lamb and the generous taste of the Biryani rice.  Indeed, this is a MUST TRY!

TANDOORI CHICKEN 

TANDOORI CHICKEN
TANDOORI CHICKEN @ KEBAB KONNER.

 According to the menu navigator, this one is a SPECIALTY OF THE HOUSE.  I made my research on how they make this dish and learned that it was prepared with yogurt and spices.  It didn’t actually taste like yogurt and how weird would that be but had I known earlier, I would have tried my best to capture that “yogurty” taste.  Tandoori chicken is a dish originating in the Indian subcontinent. It is widely popular in South Asia,Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Middle East and the Western world. The name comes from the type of cylindrical clay oven, a tandoor, in which the dish is traditionally prepared.  Did I like tandoori chicken?  It did not win my heart but it was the dish that Prosecutor Nimia enjoyed because according to Judge Glenda – it was the most normal recipe from among those we ordered fitting for a non-adventurous-normal-palate like Prosecutor Nemia’s, our chauffeur. (wink wink)

LAMB KORMA

lamb korma
LAMB KORMA @ KEBAB KONNER.

In the menu, this is described as  boneless mutton mildly spiced cooked in Chef’s Special Gravy.  Why is it called LAMB KORMA? According to wikipedia – Korma (from Turkish kavurma), also spelled kormaaqormakhorma, or kurma, is a dish originating in South Asia consisting of meat or vegetables braised in a spiced sauce made with yogurt, cream, nut or seed paste.

With how Korma was defined, you can actually use other meat for this dish.  You can make chicken korma, turkey korma, pork korma or Kambing Korma? Up to you. 🙂

The menu did not indicate whether this is a must try or a specialty of the house but I liked it. Try it with chapati bread, but I gobbled mine with rice of course.

We also had – CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA,  I was not able to take a pic of the actual dish that we had but this is the closest I got that looked like the CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA at KEBAB KONNER…

Chicken_tikka_masala
Photo grabbed from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tikka_masala

This is tandoori chicken tikka cooked in red tomato and onion gravy.  Judge Glenda loved it so much!  Accordingly, she liked the mix of flavors and the fact that the sauce is not over powering.  To put it simply, the meat and the sauce complement each other.  Perfect with chapati bread!

Your Kebab Konner experience will not also be complete if you won’t try their LASSI. You can have their lassi iced, sweet, or salted.  The staff recommended that we try it sweet and so we did.  Here is how it looks like…

lassi kebab
Sweet Lassi @ Kebab Konner. We wondered how a salted lassi would taste but I guess we were not up for that adventure during that time. Here is what you need to know about Lassi – Lassi (pronounced [ləs-siː]) (La’See) is a popular, traditional, yogurt-based drink from the Indian Subcontinent and originates from the Punjab. Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes, fruit. Traditional lassi (a.k.a., “salted lassi”, or simply, “lassi”) is a savoury drink, sometimes flavoured with ground and roasted cumin. Sweet lassi, however, contains sugar or fruits, instead of spices. Salted mint lassi is highly favoured in Bangladesh.
While we tried KEBAB KONNER’s sweet lassi, these two powerful and sweet ladies played it safe and opted to try KEBAB KONNER’s LEMON BLEND ICED TEA.

iced tea kebab
Public Attorney Louella Navarro with her nemesis Prosecutor Nimia Peralta about to enjoy KEBAB KONNER”s Lemon Blend Iced Tea. Asked about their iced tea experience, Atty. Navarro said that it is not the usual powdered iced tea mix served by fastfood restos. I guess she meant – you’ll get your money’s worth.

Here is what I think about my KEBAB KONNER experience:

PRICE:  Not bad!!  I loved the lassi experience and I am glad that it was affordable! You can just drop by their resto and be refreshed @ P100.00 per glass of lassi.   I dare you to skip your one day dose of starbucks or milk tea and try this healthier option for a drink.

The LAMB BIRYANI experience is priced at P325.00 and I highly recommend that you try this!  That is very reasonable for some premium lamb chops.  Most of their delightful specialties start at an average price of P250.00.  The HUMMUS appetizer is only P120.00 and can change the lives of 3 to 4 people.

LOCATION: Along Session Road, Baguio City or more specifically at the ground level of Porta Vaga Mall, Session Road, Baguio City.  For tourists, you will not have a hard time looking for KEBAB KONNER, just look for Porta Vaga Mall along Session Road and you are good to go!

PARKING SPACE:  No problem during off-peak seasons because the parking at the Cathedral Church can accommodate you.  But don’t take my word for holidays.

AMBIANCE:  The calm dining area will give you that mediterranean feel.  The smell of curry and spices are all over and is already appetizing so you can immediately order your main course. Haha.  But again, try their HUMMUS for a complete experience.

CUSTOMER SERVICE:  Very attentive staff.  I hope they will do the same even if they are full.  The manager is also friendly and approachable and gave me the go when I asked for a copy of their menu.

RECOMMENDATION:  I give it my two thumbs up with standing ovation! Loved the experience and I would love for you to try it too!  The resto was already half-full when we left so I guess people do come back for more. 🙂

my plate
Disclaimer: This is not how they served it but it was how my plate looked like after I got a little something of everything that was served. 🙂 I ate more than that of course. Try having HUMMUS for your appetizer, LAMB BIRYANI and another DISH for your main course and LASSI to tickle your throat. 🙂

For tourists who are looking for a Must-Try resto here in Baguio City, this is one place that you should visit.  The food and the culture may not be Cordillera but the food will blend well with your Baguio City experience!

Until the next spoonful folks!

P.S.

Suppliers for meat products like Chicken and Beef are Muslims with Halal meat supply.  Lamb served are imported from New Zealand and are also Halal certified.

What is Halal?

Halāl (Arabic: حلال‎ ḥalāl, ‘permissible’), also spelled hallal or halaal is any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law.

Still curious about halal?  Here’s a great article about it – WHAT IS HALAL MEAT, AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

 

HILL STATION, BAGUIO CITY: FINDING CALLOS!

On christmas eve, at around 9 o’clock in the evening and after we have celebrated at home, I had this weird craving for callos.  I remember trying it at Hill Station in one of my meetings and so I talked my wife into driving out that evening to find — callos.  I was concerned that Hill Station might not be open that night considering that Filipinos usually close their businesses during the 25th of December but lo and behold…

hill station open
Tada! Hill Station at Casa Vallejo is open!  The Resto closes at 10pm and their bar at 11pm so this still gives me an hour to have that mouth-watering callos!

I knew it, people these days dine out during Christmas instead of going through the hassle of preparation…

festivity at hill station
From the main entrance of Casa Vallejo and before gracing the imperial staircase to Hill Station, we caught sight of this seeming festivity! It felt like they were all waiting for me so I waved my hands all the way down and celebrated with these families (KKB style).

Hill Station was surprisingly full, I surmise these are tourists who came to my beloved Baguio City to celebrate Christmas with us.  Since the dining hall was, let’s just say filled to capacity,  we were fortunate to have 2 available seats at the farthest corner of the hall.  We were ushered to sit in an area that is a little bit dark and so I was joking to my wife that we looked like an “aliping sagigilid”. I then requested to be transferred should there be a vacant table for 2.  After a few minutes, here we are…

wife and i hill station
My Pia Wurtzbach and I, transferred to a more lit area @ Hill Station.

And so the quest for callos began…

looking at the menu
Hmmm do I look worried here? I am troubled about the fact that I might not see callos on the menu and not because of the price! (hint, hint) I stayed calm and voila! Saw SPANISH CALLOS there!

Before we asked for the staff to take our order, I gave my wife a quick briefing and reminded her that we already ate at home and that she is full and that we were just there for the callos and not for anything else.  I told her that we need to stick to the plan and focus on the goal and so she ended up ordering…

HOME MADE POTATO CHIPS w/ AIOLI.

potato chips hill station
Hmmm, yes, POTATO CHIPS. But these are not ordinary potato chips, these are HOME MADE POTATO CHIPS WITH AIOLI DIP. I told my wife to take note that not all potato chips have aioli, and that we don’t see aioli everyday, whatever that is.

But before we were served the golden HOMEMADE POTATO CHIPS w/ AIOLI, the staff brought us…

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD w/ DUKKAH and OLIVE OIL, let me show you a picture so you won’t think that I’ll be using the DUKKAH and the OLIVE OIL on my face because they sounded like they were lifted from a spa menu…

whole wheat bread hill station
When I asked the staff about the powdery thing beside the olive oil, I initially heard him say “dukha dip”. Dukha in Filipino means poor, so I almost said “Are you giving this to us because you think we are poor?” But I kept my cool and asked him again, “what is it again and can you spell it for me please?” He then repeated himself and spelt it as Dukkah or Duqqa. Duqqa is an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables for an hors d’œuvre.  So I was relieved, I thought he was being judgmental.

Let me show you how a “non-dukha” will eat the dukkah…

Step 1:

step 1 dukkah dip hill station
You have to dip the whole wheat bread in the olive oil. I wonder why they call it whole wheat bread, when it was served to us, the bread was already sliced. (wink wink)

Step 2:

dukka dip hill station
After bathing the whole wheat bread with some olive oil, now let the whole wheat bread in all its wholiness dive into the dukkah dip as deep as possible to achieve the intended taste. (ano daw?)

Step 3:

look at the camera hill station
Make sure that you look your best, look at the camera and tell yourself, or if you are not alone, tell the group- “This is how a non-dukha eats a dukkah”.

Kidding aside, after gobbling all the whole wheat bread, my most precious spanish callos is now served…

SPANISH CALLOS

callos hill station
You can order Hill Station’s Spanish Callos with garlic bread or garlic rice. Obviously, I ordered mine with garlic rice plus extra rice. Their spanish callos was so tender that my oohhhs and my aaahhhs while eating can be heard across the room but nobody reacted because it was just me, an ordinary boy, eating his Callos, spanish callos rather. Callos is a stew common across Spain, and is considered traditional to Madrid. In Madrid, it is referred to as callos a la Madrileña. It contains beef tripe (tuwalya) and/or chickpeas (garbanzos), blood sausage and bell peppers. Chorizo sausage may also be used. Another simple recipe of Callos is boiling the tripe until tender, slicing it into strips and cooking it in pork and beans with bell peppers.

Know what, I did not only enjoy my food at Hill Station but I also learned some Baguio City trivia from their menu, here you go..

 

Trivia No. 1

From India to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, little towns were carved out of the mountainside as places of rest and recreation. Baguio was one of the last hill stations to be established in Asia during the Americal colonial period in the Philippines.

hill station is a town located at a higher elevation than the nearby plain or valley. The term was used mostly in colonial Asia, but also in Africa (albeit rarely), for towns founded by European colonial rulers as refuges from the summer heat, up where temperatures are cooler. In the Indian context most hill stations are at an altitude of approximately 1,000 to 2,500 metres (3,500 to 7,500 feet); very few are outside this range.

Trivia No. 2

When the American government in 1909 was building up Baguio City, the hired workers stayed in Casa Vallejo, then known as “Dormitory No. 4.” It had sawali partitions inside and was wood and galvanized iron on the outside.

Trivia No. 3

In 1928, Casa Vallejo was leased to Salvador Vallejo, a Spaniard who came with the Spanish army at the turn of the century, married here, never left. He renovated the building and opened Vallejo Hotel. Our small function room, perfect for meetings, is named after the founder.

Okay, let’s get back to work, here is the verdict on my Hill Station Experience:

PRICE:  Well, it depends on your budget, if you are on “dukha mode” like me then the prices are a little bit high for your current financial situation. (lol)  The resto’s market are from the middle class to the upper echelons.  It is not a resto where you can eat everyday, otherwise you’ll end up selling your priced possessions just because you ate spanish callos.

LOCATION: They have 2 branches, the one where I had my Spanish Callos experience was at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City – few steps away from SM Baguio. They also have another branch which is a thousand steps away from SM Baguio so you choose, but the address is – HILL STATION BISTRO, Ayala Land Technohub, Camp John Hay, Baguio City.

PARKING SPACE:  They have a parking space behind Casa Vallejo but if they are full, you will end up parking by the road side and risk being issued a ticket by the Traffic Management Bureau which is also a few steps away from where your car is parked.  But to give you peace of mind, I have not been issued a ticket even once just by parking along that area, but who knows, you will be the first one. 🙂

AMBIANCE:  If you are in love, the place is romantic.  I enjoyed being with my wife there.  It was like valentines on a christmas eve.  The environment is very stylish and sophisticated even if the place used to be a run down building, the owners were successful in reviving it to its present glory.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: I would say – excellent for that evening.  Even if they  were full, they’d take care of you as if you are their only guest.  The staff obviously know how to work with grace under pressure.

Now, will I recommend this place?  Because of their Spanish Callos – definitely, YES!  This place is iconic here in Baguio City so if you are a tourist, try their Spanish Callos! Haha. I have yet to try the rest of the menu.

Until the next spoonful folks!

P.S.  My wife felt like she can’t leave Hill Station without trying some of their desserts and so she ordered their New York Cheese Cake:

new york cheesecake hill station
The sweet syrup looked like ketchup in the dim lit room but my wife said it was actually yummy. 🙂

 

 

ARCA’S YARD: A fusion of early tradition and modernization.

My wife and I were looking for a place for dessert and a cozy spot where we can sit, relax, and plan for our year 2016.  Since it is the 24th of December and knowing that there is an impending heavy traffic, we decided to drive outside the Central Business District of Baguio City and found ourselves at…

arca's yard signage
You will not miss the Arca’s Yard signage if you are traversing the road towards Ambuklao.
wife at arca's yard
The wife looks excited as to what Arca’s Yard has to offer. 🙂

I am sorry that I never bothered to ask who ARCA is, where is ARCA, is ARCA a he, a she, or whether ARCA stands for something. (lol)  But one thing is for sure, ARCA has a YARD and we are about to check it out…

arca's address
ARCA’S YARD has an easy to remember address – 777 Tiptop, Ambuklao Road, Baguio City. I had to add a touch of sepia on my pic to conform to Arca’s theme. 🙂

When we entered the place, my wife and I were greeted with art pieces that made us feel as if we visited a cordilleran museum.  With that, I already told my self that it was worth the drive.

paintings at arca's yard
The furniture, the paintings on the wall…made me say that ARCA didn’t only have a YARD but he/she or it has an artistic sense too! Why won’t they call it…ARCA’S YARD, ARCA’S PAINTINGS, ARCA’S EVERYTHING! lol  ARCA, IKAW NA!

And there is this wall…

ARCA'S LADDLES
ARCA’S LADLES! You can say that there is obvious obsession with ladles here. I can imagine the chef saying – “to achieve this particular saltiness, we need to use a special ladle” or “this ladle is for adobo, that one for sinigang, and the other one for pina-upong manok”. hmmmm

ARCA’S YARD has a dining hall on its ground floor and it has a stairway leading to an attic.  We opted for the attic and wow…

arca's masks
On your way to the attic, you will be welcomed by these creatures. Is ARCA one of them? Who are they? I surmise that these are the people who did not pay their tab. That would be a very scary way to say “goodbye world”.

ARCA’S YARD attic is like a mini library filled with books, carpets and pieces of furniture where you and your friends can comfortably dine.  It has magical windows that allow you to experience a view of the cordillera mountains.

library arca's
This spot is very inviting. I almost took a nap. If you notice, on the left side of the pic, there are different kinds of “bululs” or we call them anitos. These anitos are believed to be guardians of the granary or the household by the cordillera people.
magical window
This is the magical window that I was talking about at Arca’s Yard. hehe. 🙂
magical arca window
I call the window magical because it brought out the artist in me. Just by looking outside, it gave me the inspiration to look at the bright side of every difficult situation, more especially now that I am going through a phase called “writer’s block”.

Apart from eating, here are some of the things you can do at ARCA’S YARD:

arca read
READ with semi crossed legs @ ARCA’S YARD
PRETEND TO READ
Model and pretend to read with semi crossed legs @ ARCA’S YARD.
TAMEME AT ARCA'S YARD
Talk to nature and go “tameme” with nature’s response only @ ARCA’S YARD.
WRITE HORROR MOVIE ARCA'S YARD
Write HORROR MOVIE SCRIPTS @ ARCA’S YARD.

But more than the many things that you can do at ARCA’S YARD, of course we came here to taste their food, so…

ring the bell and order at arca's yard
Let us RING THE BELL and ORDER food @ ARCA’S YARD! You need to ring the bell to call the staff for them to take your order.

We made our selection after asking them their best sellers and so let us start to do what we are here for:

THE GRUB:

RHUBARB PIE ALA MODE

rhubarb arca's
Rhubarb Pie Ala Mode @ P140.00 per slice – the pie that will make you witness war between sweetness and sourness. The crust is cooked out of rhubarb stalks and is the one that produces that mysterious sour taste.  You will also be surprised as to how that sour taste is drowned by the taste of its ambrosial toppings. The vanilla ice cream and the caramelized walnuts sprinkled around the pie calms the struggle between sweet and sour. (Ano daw?) If you really want to know what I mean, you’d better pay ARCA’S YARD a visit.  One more thing, RHUBARB ALA MODE is seasonal and is only available during the months of December to January and August to October or depending if there are other other suppliers.

STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE @ P90.00 per tall glass.  I usually don’t like ordering strawberry shakes because most of the restaurants overdo its sweetness.  However, when I sipped from my wife’s drink, I loved every drop of it because the sweetness is, if I may use the word, tame.

Just in case we get a little hungry from our year 2016 planning, we ordered their CHEESEBURGER w/ FRIES @ P240.00.

BURGER AND FRIES ARCA'S
At first look, there is nothing really special about this burger but the obvious absence of grease made it stand out. The patty looked pale but the fact that it is healthy, it saved it from not being recommended. The fries are crunchy, but it is just sad that I am not a big fan of fries.

We stayed at ARCA’S YARD longer than we thought because we enjoyed the serenity and what are the odds that we will be having the attic to ourselves.  It was so serene and my body was demanding a nap but of course that is not possible.  If you visit during non-peak hours or non-peak days, the only sound that  you will hear are some chit-chats from guests dining in the ground floor, vehicles traversing the Ambuklao Road and the click clacking of horseshoe sound.

We already achieved our purpose of planning for the year 2016 but we thought that our ARCA’S YARD experience won’t be complete if we won’t taste their best selling CAMOTE PIE ALA MODE:

camote and cloud tea arca
As an Igorot, camote pie is not new to me. My grandparents cooked this almost everyday when we were young and we love it. But let us talk about ARCA’S YARD CAMOTE PIE – it has a smooth texture with some chunks of camote.  The pie is topped with something crispy, I think those are nuts too. This cordillera snack complimented their CLOUD TEA priced @ P60.00. The cloud tea is very relaxing, the taste of the wild honey soothing and the presentation wow. You will witness how the foam on top will merge with the other elements of the drink. It is like watching the Baguio City fog caress a beautiful lady’s cheeks.

Now, we need to rate our ARCA’S YARD experience:

PRICE:  Very reasonable.

LOCATION: Without traffic, it is 12 to 15 minutes drive from the Central Business District of Baguio City.  It has an easy to remember address – 777 Tiptop, Ambuklao Road, Baguio City.

PARKING SPACE:  Their frontage will fit about 2 cars, you can also park by the road side.  I am not sure if they have other provisions for parking.

AMBIANCE:  Very conducive for meeting and catching up with friends.  You can have an alone time if you visit them during non-peak hours.  They play instrumental music which adds to stimulating your artistic juices.  If you are a writer, I am sure you will find some inspiration at ARCA’S YARD.

CUSTOMER SERVICE:  The staff are very patient and will immediately attend to your needs, well that was probably because there were a few customers when we went there.  We will try to visit them during peak-hours/season and see if the service will still be the same.  Accordingly, they are mostly full during weekends.

So if you are from Baguio City, explore this restaurant and experience how they fused early tradition with the gourmet era.  For tourists, don’t leave our City without having a taste of ARCA’S YARD RHUBARB PIE ALA MODE and CAMOTE PIE ALA MODE, don’t forget to complement that with their CLOUD TEA!!

Until the next spoonful folks!

 

 

 

 

CHAYA: Authentic Japanese Restaurant in Baguio City

I have been to this Japanese (レストラン) Restaurant several times and pity that it is only now that I am writing about it.  There are several Japanese restaurants in the City of Baguio but if you are looking for the most authentic, the place to look for is…

chaya signage

Now let us see what Chaya has to offer:

 The Grub:

You will be handed an easy to navigate menu to help you start your Japanese food experience.

menu chaya
There are a dozen of entrees on Chaya’s Menu but you will not have a hard time choosing that one food that will make you want to visit Japan for more. 🙂

Now, let us get the ball rolling.  To start of, you will be served tuna and a sesame sprinkled spinach for an appetizer.  This is already included in your order and is not charged separately.  With the kind of appetizer that they served us, they communicated how committed they are to providing nothing but healthy options for food.

chaya appetize
A flavorful tuna and sesame sprinkled spinach for an appetizer. Very Chaya!

While waiting for the main entree, warm your stomach with Chaya’s miso soup…

soup chaya

After a few stories are told, here comes what we waited for – two (2) plates of TEMAKI SUSHI @ P680.00 per plate.  With each serving, you will be able to feed 3 to 4 hungry souls. 🙂 With this entree you will experience rolling your own sushi!

temaki sushi
@ Chaya, you will have the chance to enjoy a plate of sashimi, crab sticks, egg, cucumber, cooked shitake and caviar!
sushi roll
This is how my sushi rolls @ Chaya!

Apart from the sushi rolling experience, here are some of their “must try” rice bowls:

Chashudon – The marinated egg in this entree makes it a winner!

chashudon
Steamed rice topped with tenderly cooked pork in sweet soy sauce served with marinated egg (nitamago) @ P320.00. (As described in Chaya’s Menu)

Gyudon

gyudon
Steamed rice topped with thinly sliced beef loin, onions, dashi soup, egg seasoned with Japanese ingredients @ P320.00. (As described in Chaya’s Menu)

Don’t miss their Green Tea shake!

drinks chaya
Try this thirst quenching green tea shake or their buko shake. Sorry I was not able to take a photo of their buko shake. 🙂

We were already so full with what we ordered so we never bothered to check their dessert.  But even if you don’t order dessert, Chaya will serve a complimentary green tea ice cream.

green tea ice cream
A mini scoop of green tea ice cream to conclude your Japanese food experience at Chaya!

Here is my verdict:

Price: Rice bowls start from P280.00 and with the food quality, you will not feel as if you were ripped off.

Location:  Chaya is only 5 to 7 minutes away from the Central Business District of Baguio so it is very very accessible.  The exact address is 72 Legarda Road, Baguio City.

Parking Space:  Parking space might be a problem during peak season or during holidays because their space can only accommodate up to probably 10 cars.  You can also park at your own risk by the road side which is what we did when we visited.  Don’t worry, you can transfer your car at a safer slot once the others are done dining but that would mean leaving your food to move your car. 🙂

chaya parking

Ambiance:  Chaya gives you that feel of dining at an old Baguio house so take advantage of this if you are a tourist.  The resto is very relaxed, intimate and warm.

chaya home
There are also quilts being sold at Chaya, I just did not inquire about it. The main dining area can probably comfortably accommodate 40 to 50 people and it is mostly full during lunch time. Pity that when we visited, we were seated outside because the main dining hall was already full.  You can try to call them for reservation to be sure that you will be accomodated (074-424-4726)

In sum, when you visit Baguio City, I highly recommend filling your stomach at Chaya!  Great food, great experience!

food buddies
My Food Buddies @ Chaya: (From left to right) PJ Awisan, Atty. Rubie Lorraine Bogya-Lictao, Atty. Bernard “Shoti” Angeles, me, Atty. Juliet Toma-ac Camuyot, Atty. Louella Navarro, and Atty. Immanuel Awisan.

 

 

 

LA PARILLA, CAFE AND GRILL: A Baguio City cafe that embraced nature.

dex at la parilla
Don’t have time to go out of town to have an encounter with nature? Enjoy nature’s landscape at La Parilla Cafe and Grill.

During stressful weeks, I always look for a place where I can dine and relax and just forget about my busy city life. You may say that there are a lot of places with that kind of description here in Baguio and I will agree to that.  But I have a new discovery:  LA PARILLA CAFE AND GRILL, located at #68 Kisad Road, Baguio City – this cafe is so near the central business district yet the ambiance gives you a feel of being in a hidden and secluded mountain resort. You will not miss this if you are traversing Kisad Road because it is exactly where INN ROCIO & Restaurant is located.

la parilla inn rocio
Just look for this inviting facade along Kisad Road.

Well, I didn’t have to wait for me to be stressed but I decided to visit La Parilla Cafe and Grill because Bright Hope Room for Growth, Inc., a school that my wife and I founded, just concluded its school year 2014-2015 so that gave us a reason to celebrate.

As a treat to ourselves and our dedicated teachers, we chose La Parilla Cafe and Grill as part of our year-end luncheon. The place is so inviting and you will surely give in to selfie temptations while waiting for your order.  Here are some captured memories at La Parilla Grill and Cafe during our Bright Hope Room for Growth, Inc., Admin and Teachers’ Year-End Luncheon:

Bright hope teachers
Teacher Xermaine, Ms. Lorna and Teacher Julienne of Bright Hope Room for Growth, Inc.
abbey and dee
Family Friendly Set-up: Baby Phillip, my wife Abbey and our friend Lady getting comfy at La Parilla’s couch. We failed to bring Phillip’s stroller but this corner of La Parilla made life easy for us during that day.

WHAT WE HAD:

APPETIZER
ONION RINGS: the crunch and dip is a delight. A platter is enough to be shared by 4 to 6 people. Kasi nga appetizer lang. Pero kung yan ang ulam mo siyempre ibang usapan yun. Hehe. (Forgive the quality of the pic, di bale real life naman yan, no edits)
FRIES
FRIES: As part of the appetizer, the teachers also had fries and were discussing the difference between fresh french fries over fast food french fries. La Parilla of course serves fresh ones. Para ano pa at nasa Baguio tayo diba? Vegetables here at La Parilla Cafe and Grill are also as fresh as the morning dew.
POP CORN AND BREAD
HEAVY MEALL ADD-ONS: If you order heavy meals, you will be served bread and butter, pop corn, and soup while you wait for the main entrée.
pinoy platter
PINOY BBQ FAVORITES, FAMILY PLATTER: Good for 3 to 4 persons. A combination of Chicken, Pork BBQ, Liempo, Baby Back Ribs, Vegetable Sidings & Rice! The baby back ribs won my heart.
lemon and mint leaves
If you are a health buff, you will appreciate the freshness of their drinking water with lemon and mint leaves.
platter for sharing
We shared 2 FAMILY PLATTERS, nakakabusog siya. We ordered 2 more extra viands kasi akala namin kulang pero takaw tingin lang pala kami.  Mabigat siya sa tiyan, promise. Hehe.

THE PLACE:

cofee table
CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS! Enjoy coffee and chit-chat with friends at their outside dining area! If you are a tourist, you will surely experience Baguio just by being on this spot. 🙂
abbey and i date la parilla
ROMANTIC MOMENTS with your spouse. La Parilla offers an environment for cheesy moments such as this.
the main hall
MAIN DINING AREA: Spacious and the architecture will make you say, ah, indeed this is a classy resto.
old baguio pictures wall
OLD BAGUIO WALL: If you are new here in Baguio, don’t forget to give this wall a second glance. You’ll either love the change or want to go back and live in the old Baguio.
garden function area
OUTDOOR FUNCTION AREA: This space is good for very very intimate weddings, baby dedications, birthdays and other occasions. The place is very easy to decorate and convert into something that will suit your taste. Besides, wala nang kailangan i-decorate kasi as is e very elegant na siya. 🙂

The launching of La Parilla Cafe and Grill is a gift to the City of Baguio. It gives me another reason to say that I have made the right decision of staying here and building a career in this fast growing city.

Others make concrete jungles out of their properties but congratulations to the owners of La Parilla Cafe and Grill, I’m glad that you decided to embrace nature.

Again, food is great and I will surely keep coming back but not only because of the food but because of the calmness that the place brings to my soul. (Kasi if the price is right, kalma lang talaga ako.  Dito magugulat ka na quality na ang food at affordable pa ang price kaya – it is really calming to ones soul.)

If you plan to visit the place, just tell them you read about it from my blog and you’ll surely get…a smile from their friendly wait staff.


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MAMA’S TABLE BY CHEF VICKY, A BAGUIO CITY FOOD REVIEW.

A foodie is a person who has a particular interest in food, someone who has a discerning palate. A friend once asked me if I am a foodie and in a heartbeat, I said “NO”. I don’t think my palate is sophisticated and discriminating enough to be considered one. Don’t get me wrong. I love food and I will eat anything you serve me for as long as it is edible and especially when I am famished. Most of the time, my goal is just to fill my stomach and that makes me happy and good to go.

When asked to rate food I will only say things like –  “too salty”, “can we add salt on this?”, “I believe the chef’s family has no history of diabetes, too sweet”, “the food is like my skin, flawless but with a twist”. Judging food should be as simple as that, right?

But don’t under estimate my self-proclaimed un-sophisticated palate, because the same mouth where my palate can be found is convincing enough to draw the eating public to your restaurant. (with narrowing look and a slight giggle) So instead of a foodie, just call me a food PR.

For me, reviewing food should include not only the taste but the presentation and ambiance. Imagine mo nalang na ngumunguya ka ng spaghetti na lasang sinigang habang katabi ng table mo ang pintuan ng CR at habang painum ka ng iced tea ay maririnig mo pa na may nag flush ng toilet bowl kasabay ng iyong paglunok. How would you feel?

Going back sa being foodie and making a food review. Sa akin, dapat yung itsura ng food bagay sa taste. If you ordered adobo, dapat lasa at itsurang adobo ito. Hindi yung:

Kuya D: “Excuse me. Kuya, I think I ordered adobo, not dinuguan”.

Waiter: “Sir, sorry but that is adobo.”

Kuya D: (tumbling 5x, sabay split).

On a serious note, here in Baguio City, there is this hidden food paradise that only food hunters will discover. Along Ambuklao Road, a huge glass house warmly welcomes people with adventurous palates. This food paradise is called “Mama’s Table” by Chef Vicky Tinio-Clemente.

Reservation starts by texting Chef Vicky and receiving the message below:

chef vicky text
Di ba? Sa word palang na “degustation” e mukha na siyang masarap. 🙂 And always tell her ahead of time if you have allergies kasi mahirap naman kung kailangan pa nilang tumawag ng ambulansya kung biglang kumapal ang labi mo. 🙂

Without traffic, the paradise is only a 10 minute-drive from the city. Upon arriving, you will be ushered by Chef Vicky to this wide sala: Where you can entertain your guests:

_DSC7735
Me, telling my friends about alta stories.

Toast to a colleague’s success:

_DSC7751
Celebrating Judge Jeanylene T. Isip-Fukai’s success!

Fight over who’s going to foot the bill:

away ni yzanne 2
Atty. Yzanne Merced could not believe she’ll be footing the bill. Atty. Jerico Gay-ya just decided to look on while Judge Glenda Ortiz-Soriano is saying “kasalanan mo ito, ikaw ang nag-invite”. Prosecutor Bong Soriano of course just supported her wife, while Chef Vicky was super ready to kick us out.

Plain soshalan lang:

_DSC7726
Judge Jeanylene Isip-Fukai, Atty. Jerico Gay-ya, Judge Glenda Ortiz-Soriano and yours truly. We just arrived so everyone looks fresh pa, later wala na.

It is also in this part of the house where you’ll get the warmest food welcome through Chef Vicky’s special appetizer:

_DSC7739
(Pic courtesy of Atty. Yzanne Merced)

While waiting for your food, you will be tempted to take pictures of the beauty that is before you. A huge glass house, wide garden, sophisticated furnitures, paintings that only altas can identify and appreciate (Wala akong na-identify kaya na bad trip ako. But I was able to appreciate naman kahit papano, I said “hmmmm nice painting” and I immediately went outside to count how many pine cones fell). Here are some dramatic pictures from the place: By the fire place and the living room.

_DSC7734
“Familia Alta, Sino ang susunod na tagapagmana?” From left to right: Prosecutor Bong Soriano, Judge Glenda T. Ortiz-Soriao, me, Atty. Jericho Gaya, Judge Jeanylene Isip-Fukai, and Atty. Yzanne Merced.
_DSC7732
From left to right: Prosecutor Bong Soriano, Judge Glenda T. Ortiz-Soriao, me, Atty. Jericho Gaya, Judge Jeanylene Isip-Fukai, and IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter President Atty. George Fukai.
DSC_0620
With my Food Buddies from the PUBLIC ATTORNEY’S OFFICE: Atty. Juliet Toma-ac Camuyot, Atty. Immanuel Awisan, Atty. Louella Navarro, Atty. Rubie Lorraine Bogya-Lictao, Atty. Daisy Padolina-Limos and yours truly.
DSC_0618
“Ang mga anak sa labas at ang tunay na taga-pagmana” – Siyempre hindi mawawala ang posing na ganito, para madaling i-crop. LOL.

Mga maaring eksena sa garden habang hinihintay ang pagkain:

DSC_0575
Araw.
_DSC7759
Gabi.
chef vicky's garden dex and abbey
Pag-ibig ang namutawi. (My beautiful Abigail and I)

After taking pictures inside and out, ito na ang pinakahihintay ninyo – DEGUSTATION:

table at night 2
The table that will change your life.
DSC_0599
Sinong magsasabing manok lang ang pinapatayo o pinapa-upo?  Meron ding “pinatayo itlog”. Once you taste this, you will never look at your eggs the same way again. Forgive me dahil di ko namemorize mga pangalan nila.
meal 2
THE SOUP. Chef Vicky carefully explained to the group kung paano ito ginawa and to be honest, I never tasted something na prinepare with so much love and detail. Passion at its finest.
DSC_0600
Melted mallows with a twist. Nakakiliti yung lasa ng cheese at nakakakilig yung tamis ng mallows. Perfect combination.
DSC_0610
DUMPLING na mapapatumbling ka sa sarap. The challenge:  Isang subuan lang dapat at kailangan makuha mo ito ng buong buo para ma-appreciate mo ang lasa.  Kung maliit naman ang bibig mo, try mo singhutin nalang. LOL.
DSC_0605
THE SALMON. I am not a fan of sea food but Chef’s salmon made me change my mind. This was served along with different kinds of spices and herbs that complimented the salmon. Chef also provided a spoon so you can enjoy the, somewhat, soup that comes with it.
DSC_0611
OMG, THE STEAK. This made the visit all worthwhile. The steak was amazingly tender and juicy and it came with mashed potatoes. Chef did something to the mashed potatoes that made it appear like it still has skin. The different kinds of mushroom was also a hit to my palate.
DSC_0613
MOUTH WATERING WATERCRESS. Who would have thought that this rapidly growing aquatic plant will be part of the menu? This will prepare your palate for the oh so yummy dessert. 🙂
DSC_0614
HEY, NOT YOUR ORDINARY MERINGUE. I think I heard chef say PAVLOVA. I’m not really sure. Next time I will take down notes. The chocolate thing that you see is Toblerone syrup. The strawberry and peaches regulate the sweetness. This brought heaven on earth.

The very first time that I’ve been to this place, there is only one thing that I captured and that is – PASSION.  Only a person who loves what he/she does can come up with something like this and I salute Chef Vicky for being an inspiration.

After every visit, you will never “not want” to have a picture taken with the lady who, like an orchestra conductor, played melody for our stomach.

DSC_0630
Chef Vicky with my friends from the PUBLIC ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, Atty. Daisy Padolina-Limos, Atty. Louella Navarro, Atty. Rubie Lorraine Bogya-Lictao, Chef Vicky, me, Atty. Juliet Toma-ac Camuyot, and Atty. Immanuel Awisan.
friends church
hmmm, I am wearing the same shirt here but this is actually with another group of friends. Me, My wife abbey, Ellen, Chef, Net, Kris Mangaliag, Ali Mangaliag, Kai and Jean Urquiza.
_DSC7767
Top: Atty. George Fukai, Atty. Yzanne Merced, Prosecutor Bong Soriano. Bottom: Atty. Jerico Gay-ya, Judge Jeanylene Isip-Fukai, Chef Vicky, Judge Glenda Ortiz-Soriano, Chief Protocol Officer to the Chief Justice, Atty. Zaldy V. Trespeces and yours truly.

We enjoyed the food and the place and I hope that you enjoyed the read.  Visit Chef Vicky one of these days and be inspired.

I intentionally did not edit her digits above so you can contact her and have this once in a lifetime experience.  Again, this is DEGUSTATION at its finest.

NOTE: (Night pictures courtesy of Atty. Yzanne Merced (Except the group pic in the garden); Day and Food pictures courtesy of Atty. Louella Navarro)

That BAGUIO CITY WEDDING you've been dreaming about?  IT'S REAL! VISIT SOULSCENT FLORAL ARTISTRY and make it happen. NOW!
That BAGUIO CITY WEDDING you’ve been dreaming about? IT’S REAL! VISIT SOULSCENT FLORAL ARTISTRY and make it happen. NOW!
We offer Baby, Toddler/Nursery & Kindergarten Classes in small groups.  For inquiries call 09178120753.  Visit us at 2nd Floor, Luke Foundation Building, #90 Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City.
We offer Baby Class, Nursery, Kinder 1 and Kindergarten 2 classes in small groups. For inquiries call 09178120753. Visit us at 2nd Floor, Luke Foundation Building, #90 Leonard Wood Road, Baguio City to reserve a slot.