November 30, 2023

Curious as we passed this new place along Ambuklao Road enroute to Padre Pio church, we dropped by after to check out the menu and ambience. The short gravel path that led to this gravel floored restaurant gave the impression that this just recently opened.  However, it must have been one of those new businesses hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

This seemed to want to entice groups for evening acoustic entertainment or folk music with ample parking and good ventilation. The tables were neatly lined and ready for large parties or cozy for intimate dates. Checking out the reviews, it indeed brightens up in the evenings for parties or a warm bonfire on chilly nights.

What caught the eyes in the menu was the fried Peking duck. We sampled the half order.

My companions who are world travelers sought the likes of Chinese style Peking duck that is eaten three ways. This was not in the least bit anything like the glistening skin and flaked meat served in the Chinese way. This looked like regular fried chicken and came with besuto chips that gave it a sweet crackle on the side. The meat of the duck was a little chewy, but it was tasty. Perhaps marinated in some soy to give it the salt seasoning.

This should be eaten by stripping the meat off the bones unless you have perfect incisors. The waiter said that the source of the duck was the owner’s farm in Zambales which made sense of the unusual fare. To those who like gastronomic adventures, this should be sampled for its meat with a different texture and flavor on its own. According to the menu, this meat is used in the other Filipino dishes served here too.

Of course, we chose pancit bihon guisado as the main snack. This came with lechon kawali as topping and garnished with the regular green onions. The cooking style is not influenced by its Chinese counterparts too. The flavors of the fresh vegetables mixed with the rice noodles could still be savored. The crunchy bits of the pork belly were perfect additions to the spoonsful of noodles and vegetables. The serving was more than enough for three.

Coffee is locally sourced but brewed in modern ways. The Latte was frothy and designed like other city cafes. This means that coffee addicts will appreciate sipping their drinks in the garden or inside the restaurant.

This being a grill had a lot of meals with barbecued meat and regular local favorites. We wished we could have tried the other items, but this is worth the stop when on your way to Kabayan, Benguet or before coming back to the city from the Region 2, or the Nueva Vizcaya areas. – Nonnette C. Bennett