Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Unique Gastronomic Experience at Kinabuhayan Cafe

Back in college, semestral breaks would mean going to Enchanted Kingdom or driving all the way up to Baguio City for a weekend of adventure. Fast forward to a more mature me *ehem* I now prefer going to more relaxing places that offers delicious food and one-of-a-kind experience. With those factors to consider, one place instantly came to mind -- Kinabuhayan Cafe!

The owner Jay Herrera was kind enough to accommodate all our queries during the booking process. He required us to deposit 50% of the total amount to confirm the booking which we paid thru Globe G-Cash a day before our trip.

After my final exam last semester, we drove to Quezon to finally have a well-deserved mini vacation to recuperate my numbing mind and body with all the sleepless nights doing a lot of case analysis. We left Manila around 1pm and after two and a half hours of driving, we finally saw the tree house Jay was talking about.

Apparently, it was the town's fiesta the same day we arrived. Jay went to town to buy additional ingredients for the feast he will prepare for us so it was his assistant who welcomed us to their humble and very unique abode.

Who would thought that amidst rows of modern inspired houses lies an expansive garden with fully-functional tree houses in an unconventional setting?

I asked Jay to prepare a late lunch since we were expecting to arrive a bit delayed with all the wrong turns and traffic. So while waiting, his assistant brought us to one of the tree houses that will be our home for a night. The first floor serves as the living room while the second floor is the room where you could find a bed, well it was really just a mattress but who cares right? I went here for the experience anyway and if I wanted a comfortable bed, I could have booked in a 5-star hotel.

I was worrying about being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitos with all the plants around but my worry vanished upon seeing a mosquito net over our bed! I knew right there and then that it is going to be a great night sleep. My only complain was that the blanket was too dusty! I nearly had an asthma upon inhaling it and as much as I didn't want to use it, the cold October breeze was too strong that it sends shivers down my spine.

The restroom and bath is a totally different story though. Imagine taking a shower (at least they have hot and cold shower here) in an open air and technically no walls loo or taking a pee in the middle of the night fearing that someone might actually be watching you. The only thing that prevents the neighbors to seeing you do your thing in the restroom are the walls of their homes. I know I have a photo of it somewhere in my laptop but I just couldn't find it!

There are only two functional tree houses when we were there. The ones in front are still under construction so for the more adventurous couple, this tent could be an alternative.

There's no television in our tree house so what else to do but lounge the entire day!

An hour after we arrived, Jay's staff called us in for our late lunch. From what I've read, Kinabuhayan is known for its mouth-watering and over-the-top food preparations courtesy of the owner himself. All of the reviews were true because the minute he placed this on in front of me, I was blown away! We were both like, WOW! This is really something!

Anyone who can bottle the smell of Jay's cooking would be an instant millionaire!

Our lunch plate had the freshest Salad (we saw Jay's staff picking edible flowers from the garden), a slightly burned Ribs but still good, homemade Fries with very salty Mushroom and Garlic sauce and the best Mushroom (yes, another Mushroom-based dish but I love it!) Risotto I had the privilege of tasting.

Risotto is an Italian staple rice dish and comfort food cooked with broth into its creamy perfection. It is now becoming associated with expensive restaurants but Jay made it looked so easy to prepare, still fancy but without the preposterous price tag.

Savoring every minute of it!

I tried very hard to finish everything on my plate but I failed. I was ashamed that I can barely look at Jay as he was talking to us because I knew that he lovingly cooked everything and I don't want him to think that I barely appreciated his time, effort and great cooking skills. 

To be perfectly honest, the presentation was overwhelming and the serving was humongous! How I wish I could have brought all of my leftovers back home and I could be eating them straight from the refrigerator in a day or two.

For dessert, Jay spoiled us with this lovely and delicious Cinnamon Bread Pudding. I never really liked bread pudding before because the sound of old bread is so unappetizing but he changed the way I feel about it! It had the right amount of sweetness and all the negative thoughts I had in mind went out of the window.

After lunch, we went back to our tree house and played Poker. We were having so much fun that time passed by so quickly! And soon enough, we were called in because dinner was ready to be served. Now that's what I call Ultimate Gluttony!

I was looking forward to finally meeting Jay's famous pet pig Onion but I was told that he passed away last year leaving his master with the ever-friendly pet dog Muning.

Jay prepared a Seafood-themed dinner which piqued all of my senses! I was so excited that all my inhibitions were thrown away including the pact I made with me, myself and I that I would try to eat healthier and as less as possible.

Well, that's obviously not going to happen tonight.

I first tried the Seafood Pasta which was so yummy and bursting with flavors!

I tried to incorporate Fresh Salad in between the main courses, yes it's with an S because there were so many! Aside the Pasta, our dinner plate also had a huge Pan Fried Grouper and a Shrimp dish that went well with the Curry Rice. While I would normally complain how little the servings are in most fancy restaurants, I am doing the exact opposite here!

I was feeling quite stuffed but I can't resist not trying out this Shrimp dish. The sauce was a bit salty but I still finished this entrée in no time.

To cap off the night, we had this Frozen Coffee Cubes which was exactly what I needed as my eyes were starting to close as well as my entire system. The effect of excessive eating.

What I liked most about this experience is the chit-chat we had with Jay every time he's not working wonders in his kitchen and the other people we met at Kinabuhayan. There's nothing like having a great conversation over an exquisite meal.

I woke up early the following day with the sounds of birds chirping, the Sunday mass from a nearby Catholic Church and my growling tummy. With the sumptuous meals from yesterday, I'm guessing my stomach is already craving for Jay's cooking.

I'm happy that aside from their famous Coffee, they also serve tea! It was different and ginger-y but I'm up for anything these days so it was a welcome treat.

There's also Iced Fresh Buko Juice which was really sweet, no sugar is needed.

And now I present you the breakfast plate fit for a King and her Queen. Isn't it gorgeous? I love how Jay just puts everything in one plate and it all looks pretty and delicious.

There's Baked Beans, Fried Sweet Potatoes, the best Sunny Side Up I've ever had and some Deep-fried Wonton Wrappers.

It's weird that we're eating these Fried Wonton Wrappers and Chips in the morning but with Kinabuhayan, nothing's predictable! Before you know it, you're munching it non-stop and enjoying all these new things that they offer here.

It was the best-looking Sunny Side Up I've ever seen that I can't stop staring at it! I felt bad destroying it but there's no way I can taste it just by looking right?

Since we still have a couple of hours to spare before we leave for Manila, I asked Jay if we can pay Kubli Spring a visit. He was quite hesitant because it rained the night before and he was saying that the water may not be as clean as we are expecting. He then urged us to see a part of the stream for ourselves so we can decide if we want to pursue the quick trip. A couple of blocks down the street and we found a part of the spring. Jay was indeed right! The water was color brown and there's no way we are going to swim in that. I was surprised though that there were women washing clothes with that type of water.

We went back to Kinabuhayan to explore the rest of the place one last time. 

At first I thought these were random decorations until Jay told us that these are in fact his parents' urns. He wanted them close so he placed them near his beloved kitchen.

We also had the chance to climb and look at the new tree house he is building.

If memory serves me right, the tree house has three floors in which a room will be built on each level. I'm guessing no doors will be built here and if you're coming from the top floor, you need to pass all the other rooms.

And the best part of it all is that it comes with a BATHTUB! I have no idea how it would work but I got so excited upon seeing this that I was already making a mental plan to visit it again once everything is done.

I only have great words and photos to share with you on how memorable this trip was. It was indeed a one-of-a-kind experience that I am happy I was able to enjoy before going back to the hustle and bustle of city life.

In case you're interested to go (which I know you do), I would suggest booking at least three meals which costs Php750 per person per meal so your accommodation will be free of charge. Some people may say that it's ridiculous to pay that amount for a single meal. Well, I assure you that you would never regret it because the experience Kinabuhayan Cafe offers is priceless.


Kinabuhayan Cafe
118 Dejarme St., Brgy. Bayanihan
4326 Dolores, Quezon, Philippines
Tel.: (63916) 221-5791

1 comment:

  1. I love the laid back vibe of the place! paying Php750 per person per meal is not bad at all with such a wonderful place to relax! thank you for sharing!


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