June 17, 2024
Maela Jose infront of the Zafron – Persian Grill and Cafe.

If you are craving for authentic Persian cuisine, go to “Zafron – Persian Grill and Café”  located at 307 Tiptop Ambuklao Road, Baguio City right beside the former Villa Romana Inn owned by tinatik artist Maela Jose.  
It is a five-minute ride from Pacdal circle and about 10 minutes from Session Road to Pacdal if without traffic. The restaurant is barely two  weeks old, as it opened only last February 1, but already a lot of tourists, whether walk-in or traversing the TipTop Road, are stopping by to sample their cuisine. They are opened from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Quench your thirst with Persian tea.

Persia is now known as the modern Iran or ancient Iran in the classical world. It was a dominant nation of western Asia for centuries.A lot of articles were  written about the rich cultural heritage of Iran as shown in their architecture of royal palaces,  ancient mosques and literature. They are also  known for their historical museums. Palm dates, figs, and pomegranates are common. Rice is part of the staple Iranian meal with meat, mostly lamb.

Persian cuisine usually highlights khūresh or stew (or Fesenjoon) and kabobs. They use saffron as their typical spice in cooking and it’s quite expensive. Only  a small part of the flower is used and according to research, “it takes about 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of saffron.”
Zafron Grill and Café is owned by Hooshang and Marilou Kordy, an Iranian Filipino couple who finally settled in Baguio during the pandemic in 2021.

The family size platter of kabob koobideh (skewered and charbroiled lean ground beef), berg kabob skewered and charbroiled filet mignon, shish kabob (marinated chunks of filet mignon) and soltani (skewered filet mignon and ground beef) served with fluffy basmati with grilled tomato and Anaheim peppers. Its good for four to five people but one can order a smaller dish.

Cupid’s arrow targeted Hooshang and Marilou’s hearts when they were  students at the former Baguio College’s Foundation (now University of the Cordilleras)  in 1977.
Hooshang opted to go to the Philippines because education was expensive in Iran.
He was enticed by a friend to transfer to Baguio instead of Manila and studied engineering.  
Marilou was from Sison, Pangasinan and was taking up Biology. To make the long story short, they married in 1981 after graduation and went to Iran, went back to the Philippines in 1986,  migrated to the United States in 1989 and finally retired here in 2021.

Mast o’ Khiar and Shirazi salad. Its diced and mixed with cucumber and olives.

As the couple say: “We love Baguio! We love the Philippines! Work is work, but fun is different. The U.S. is the land of opportunities, but money is not everything. We have fond memories of the Fireplace at Assumption and the Bodega when we were students.”
One cannot deny why Baguio is a place for retirees. It has good weather, friendly people  and our nature and environment is still the best. Their two daughters Cathy and Sara and grandson Lucien were left in the U.S. They met Maela six months ago and probably fell in love with the place. It has a commanding view of the mountains. Maela used to say, she wanted a zipline from her place to Good Shepherd.
Cooking is Hooshang’s passion and he loves to cook.  

The skewered and charbroiled meat and filet mignon with charbroiled onions, tomatoes and peppers.

His Family platter Kabobs of skewered and charbroiled Kabob koobideh, Berg, Shish and Soltani was so delicious and satiating.  
The basmati rice was fluffy and was complemented with grilled tomatoes and peppers, This was served with Mast O’ khiar and Shirazi salads, and quenching Persian tea.
The dish was also served with Hummus.  Not new to the restaurant business, the  couple managed  a restaurant in Dallas, Texas  for 25 years.

Marilou and Hooshang Korby, the Filipino Iranian couple, who owns Zafron Grill Café located a TipTop Road.

While Hooshang cooked yummy Persian dishes, Marilou worked as  a nursing assistant. The couple still want to travel to other places in the north like Sagada and to El Nido in Palawan.
For those interested , please get in touch with their  mobile number 0945 597 4033. Oh, by the way, it would be a good place for Valentine’s Day.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! (photos by Wigan Warren Lopez Nauyac and Gemma Gardingan Estolas)

Hooshang Korby personally attends to the skewering and charbroiling of the beef and filet mignon in his kitchen. One can actually watch him cooking.