Saturday, February 18, 2012


As my love affair with food continues ... I would compare this to a love that is hidden but is very special indeed.   It is the kind of love that you hide from the prying eyes ... hidden beneath the sheets.  It is the kind that you hold on to, the break from the ennui of a life you normally have.

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen Road Sign

The Facade

This was recommended to me by a colleague, fellow book enthusiast and new friend, Bong Cauilan.  Knowing that I love food and places and writing about it – he recommended something special.  So special that you can’t just walk in and eat.  You have to reserve to taste the Vietnamese goodness.  Why is Vietnam close to my heart? My twin sister, Nicole, is half Vietnamese. But my familiarity with the food and my never ending confusion with the names don’t match though.

Stairs Leading to the Dining Area

Front Yard


Bawai means grandmother in Vietnam.    There is also a love story behind the place.  Yong (a Vietnamese) fell in love and married Virgilio (a Filipino) and settled in the Philippines.  The house is actually their home in one of Tagaytay’s retirement community.  Yong is a great cook and because of that they opened a portion of their restaurant to strangers to partake in her meals. To date, the cook is their son Victor Tatlonghari (not in any way related to Zsa-Zsa’s estranged husband).
The ambiance is very private. When we went there, there were just 3 groups/pairs.  It is a perfect hideaway. I was thinking of an old house but it is not. It might also be nice to have traces of Vietnamese decor to add to the “feel”. The servers are in uniform which is a nice touch.   I like the chairs. Everything is white, crisp and dainty. You can even see cows from the window grazing on the grass.

Cows at the Backdrop

Wash Area

Category                              : Vietnamese
Address                                : Brgy. Bukal, Silang Cavite
Telephone Number             : 0920-9722924
Parking                                 : you may bring your cars and your neighbors’ J
The journey begins by reserving the date and pre-orders are required so that they can prepare well ahead of time. And I have discovered, everything was cooked to its ultimate perfection through slow cooking.  Everything that you will eat will slide off the bone with an easiness that you can never imagine.
How to get there:
Coming from the highway from Sta. Rosa, turn right at the National Highway (Tagaytay Ridge), driving towards the Tagaytay Rotonda. . Turn right at Lagusan Drive. The landmark of this right turn is the signage for the Dominican House of Prayer and Chateau Hestia (in bright yellow) . Just follow the Chateau Hestia signage because they are neighbours.  Continue driving along Lagusan Drive, passing SHIM International School and Doña Leoncia Country Homes. Turn right at Brgy. Bukal (Purok 5).  We missed the house but once you see Chateau Hestia, you’d know. Bawai is at your left.
(*) GOI CUON (and the complicated names start) – Php 160 (3 pcs per order ) Glazed Pork and Shrimp with vegetable fresh roll . This is the traditional spring roll of Vietnam. This is rolled in banh trang ( rice paper ) and inside it is a mixture of green leaf lettuce, shrimp, glazed pork , chives, mint and bun ( rice vermicelli ) .  This comes with a brown sauce called nuoc cham ( combination of hoisin and water ) . Layering would be the greens, a little above is the shrimp, then pork and then the vermicelli. When rolling, the shrimp will be seen through the opaque rice wrapper. Healthy – that comes to mind while eating this because of its freshness and simplicity.

 PHO BO – Php 235 . Traditional Beef Noodle Soup . My favourite is Pho Hoa’s.  This is my 2nd one. The soup is so hot that it is so apt for the cool Tagaytay weather. Mixture of beef , cilantro, banh pho noodles (rice sticks) , onions, scallions, bean sprouts and mint leaves.  While I was used to eating the soup with the garnishes on the side like the bean sprouts , mints, chillies and lemon wedges, this doesn’t have that style in serving.  Everything else is mixed together.  They just serve it with hoisin and chilli sauce.  It could have been served the way I have always known it.   Whether it is authentic Vietnamese or not, it adds to the drama.

Trivia: Pho Bo is beef noodle soup. This is associated with the city of Hanoi.
 Pho Bo

(*) COM SUON CHA – Php 295 – Grilled pork liempo with mushroom egg tart served with greens and rice. This is my top pick.  This is almost like eating fish because of its tenderness.  This is meat-falling-off-the-bone scenario.  This is so tender that the fat part of the liempo literally melts in your mouth.  It tastes so good that I think the rice serving is not enough.   There goes my diet outside the cool midday delight.  The mushroom egg tart is something new but reminded me of the Japanese egg omelette , Tamagoyaki without the mushroom.

 GA KHO GUNG – Php 285 – Spicy Ginger Glazed Chicken with herbs, shaved cabbage and steamed rice.  This is akin to our adobo and tinola in one. Again that quality of tenderness that makes you wonder, how long does it take to reach that utter tenderness without being soggy?  This is cooked with honey and coconut soda – caramelized. While this is the recipe that you could cook in a hurry ... this was the last one to arrive on our table.

Trivia:  GA KHO GUNG means ginger chicken
BO KHO – Php 305 – 12 spices, slow cooked beef stew with carrots or a choice of steamed rice or rice noodles. Eaten in both ways, this dish is perfect.  This is a comfort food.  What are the 12 spices? Here goes (from research, I’m not sure if it is the same with theirs) : paprika, lemongrass, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon, clove, ground pepper, shallots, garlic, annatto seed oil, ginger and  bay leaf.  Hmmm, need I say more?  Without a slow cooker simmering will take 4 hours or more.
Trivia: Bo Kho is the ultimate breakfast food in Vietnam.

Bo Kho

CA NUONG XA OT – Php 385 – Grilled lemon grass glazed dory fillet with julienned mangoes, cold salad and steamed rice.  Traditionally this is done by marinating the fish in a flavouring paste of lemongrass, shallot, fish sauce and madras-style curry powder then grilled.  One thing though, the fish doesn’t taste fresh ...  like it has been frozen then cooked. The meat tends to fall off too easily which is not good for fish meat.  The salad is good though.

BAN (Banh, might be typo error in their menu)  DA LON – Php 25 – Pandan and yellow mung bean cake smothered with coconut paste and sesame seeds. This is made of tapioca starch, rice cake and coconut milk.  It lacks something ... it would have been wonderful if there are sweet dessicated coconut or latik on top.
Trivia: Ban Da Lon literally means pig skin cake. Not in any way related to the dessert.

Banh Da Lon

ICED PANDAN TEA – Php 65 – This is simply iced tea with pandan flavour.  Served with the green colored pandan syrup is at the bottom of the drink. Stir well.


ICED TAMARIND TEA – Php 95 -  This is a new one for me. This has seeds of tamarind at the bottom. Worth a try.


Will I ever go back there? Yes. But knowing now that the food is good for sharing, I will order less.  I would have loved to meet the owners to have a better story on the background.  If you want privacy ... this is your place. The place is good for 30 persons and I would like to assume that they accept small gatherings. This is not your everyday fast food Vietnamese dishes.  The food is eaten with the same speed as the cooking is done ... slow.  Take your time.  Bask in the ambiance.  The French do it that way, Vietnam has been under the French influence way in the 1800s , right?
Simple. Private. Bawai’s.

The Foodie Among Friends


  1. through FB : Nicole Cruz - best entry yet , twin sis

  2. Great blog,makes me want to visit the place again.... next food tour - bakahan at manukan, corner of buendia and roxas blvd, the corner dining place (not the main). Bulalo monggo and tawilis is to die for. Go.....- Bong C.

  3. Very descriptive article, I enjoyed that bit. Could there be part Two?