A few weeks ago, my friends and I had lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant called Bawai’s in Tagaytay, an area quite far away from the Metro. I’ve been to Hanoi once, but I felt so disappointed during the trip because I didn’t get to try any of the local food! I was with a friend of mine who got a free tour for two to Hanoi, and as usual we only went to the usual tourist spots and ate continental food. How disappointing… So that’s why I wanted to go; because I technically haven’t really eaten Vietnamese food yet. A friend of mine told me that most of the Vietnamese food here in Manila isn’t very good (same with Thai food), but Bawai’s is one of the more authentic ones, so I decided to try it since I had a ride anyway.
It really is quite far, around more than an hour away from the city. Around two hours I think? So it’s really better to have someone take you instead of going alone. The restaurant is very homey, almost like somebody’s house, and the dining area is in the “living room” of the house. It can’t really accommodate a lot of people, which is great because at least it won’t feel too crowded. I’m not really sure if reservations are required, but it’s better to set a reservation than to drive all the way there only to find out that it’s full!
When I talk about the food, please note that I’ve never tried actual, authentic Vietnamese food in my life, so I’m probably not the best judge. But still, I did like everything! The food was actually really good.
These were the appetisers we first ordered.
Bawai’s Garden Salad, which was really delicious, especially for those who love shrimps and mangoes. I love both so I really loved it. I’m not exactly sure if this is authentically Vietnamese though, but it still tasted good.
Another is the gỏi cuốn, fresh spring rolls with vegetables, shrimp, vermicelli, and pork. I found it very good. And I’m sure it’s healthy. The rolls itself are quite mild in flavour, so it tastes better with the accompanying sauce. We ordered fried pork spring rolls as well (those above the salad), but they were just fine.
Next we had the chạo tôm, grilled shrimps on sugarcanes. I also liked this one. You can chew the sugarcane as well for extra flavour, but one of my companions said that the sugarcane they used was an older stalk, and it would’ve been better if they had used a younger one so that more juice would come out.
For the main course, I had the bún riêu, some kind of crab noodle soup. I love noodles and crabs so of course I loved this one! It’s also slightly spicy so it’s got that delicious kick to it as well. It also had pork and some really delicious tomatoes in addition to the crab.
I didn’t get to photograph what my other friends were having, but one of them ordered the tôm rang me, prawns with tamarind sauce. She said it was good as well, and this is definitely what I plan to order the next time I come.
After lunch, we headed to an area near the road to catch a small glimpse of the Taal Volcano, which is a tiny volcano island on a lake called Taal Lake. Interesting fact, what is now Taal Lake is actually a caldera of a giant volcano from a long time ago, which is why people call it “a volcano within a volcano” or “a lake within a lake”, since Taal Volcano has a tiny lake on its crater as well. It was quite cloudy so the view wasn’t very clear sadly, but it was still beautiful though. The volcano is that tiny island in the middle of the photograph in the lake. From the photograph, it just looks like a land mass jutting out into the lake, but that’s because the island is in front of that land mass, so unfortunately this isn’t a very good view of the volcano. I definitely want to come back to Tagaytay next time to check out the lake and the volcano even closer.
The two branches of Bawai’s are located in:
J. Hernandez Street, Purok 5, Bukal, Silang, Cavite
79 Katipunan Avenue, Bellitudo Lifestyle Strip, White Plains, Quezon City