Last month, my friends invited me to lunch with them in a new restaurant that opened in Antipolo, a city in the outskirts of Manila. The new restaurant is called Tahanan Bistro. Tahanan is the Filipino word for “home”, appropriately named since the restaurant is actually the house of the owner, or at least, the house of her parents. It’s around an hour’s drive away without traffic (which means during the weekend) and the bistro is only open from Friday to Sunday. It’s not exactly in the city itself, but on the outskirts of the city, somewhere near a hill overlooking Laguna de Bay.
There is so much I want to say about my experience because it was such an amazing one! So let me start off with the home itself.
It’s the home of Benji Reyes, a craftsman who is quite well known in Manila. He’s known for his extraordinary wooden creations of furniture and artwork which I really love. In fact, he’s one of my favourite furniture designers here in the Philippines. He makes use of reclaimed local wood and employs and trains people around the area; so his works are not only beautiful, but sustainable and helps communities as well.
His house is amazing! I wasn’t able to ask whether he designed the house himself, but I do know that all of the furniture and wooden artwork are all his. Oh and don’t miss the fish on the roof!
My apologies for the quality of the photographs. These were taken with my iPhone 5c, not with my current phone, the iPhone SE.
Anyway as you can see, all of the furniture of the home are wooden, and they are all designed by him, as well as created by him and his apprentices all by hand. They don’t use nails or glue to make the wooden pieces fit together either, they craft it in such a way that they fit perfectly like a puzzle piece. The chairs are extremely comfortable (and smooth) as well despite it being wood!
They also have a room somewhere in the house where they showcase and sell some of their antiques.
I’ll write about the food now. The bistro is owned by his daughter, Keesha, and her partner, Kevin, who’s the chef. He went to the Academia International in Melbourne and studied the culinary arts there.
The food really does not disappoint. No doubt one of my favourite restaurants in Manila (despite technically not really being in Manila). Both the food itself and the presentation are excellently done! You’ll see in the pictures. They offer 3 set menus with different options of food in each one. It’s Filipino food, but reinvented with a unique twist (although it’s not fusion). I had the Balayong set menu, which you will see.
The first thing on the menu was the kalabasa (pumpkin) soup, which is described by the website as “spiced pumpkin soup, fresh basil, fresh off the oven rosemary focaccia”. Simple yet delicious!
Next was the baboy damo, which is a wild boar salad: “smoked house-grown black footed pig tapa flakes, dried herring (tuyo), caesar dressing, romaine, parmesan cheese, soft boiled egg”. One of the few salads that I wouldn’t mind eating everyday for a healthier diet.
The main course is simply called manok, which is Filipino for “chicken” since the dish is chicken adobo agnolotti: “pulled chicken adobo, house-made ricotta, fresh pasta agnolotti, almonds, adobo flakes, alfreddo sauce, grana padano cheese”. This was extremely delicious! Very flavourful in a good way; and I don’t usually like cream pastas but I loved this one!
Then there was the palate cleanser which is called mansanas, which means “apple” in Filipino, in the menu, which simply comprises of “fuji apple, house-made ricotta, calamansi, mint”. It looks so pretty despite being so tiny!
Then finally the dessert! Which was an assortment of cassava being cooked in different ways: “lola [grandmother] flory’s cassava cake, cassava chips dipped in coconut milk chocolate, cassava fritters and coconut caramel”. I love cassava in general so I really loved this!
That concludes my post about the food. Everything was delicious, and I got to sample some of the other food as well since my friends ordered the other 2 set menus, so we got to try each other’s food. I do hope I can go back someday to try the other two menus! My only problem is the transportation since it’s quite far away, and I don’t have a car (I’m not willing to drive due to the crazy law-defiant drivers and the even crazier traffic!). This is definitely worth going to if you have somebody to take you, for both the delicious food and the beautiful house.
The 5 course meal costs PHP 1,200.00 (EUR 22.15; SEK 213.53; DKK 164.90; CHF 24.07)
Tahanan Bistro is located in 22 Loresville Drv., Lores Farm Subdv., Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo City