We know Tagaytay as a place of great view, cool weather, laid-back lifestyle, and, of course, great food. There are so many choices of restaurants here and that profusion of choices could be confusing (and frustrating). The usual default mode, at least as far as we’re concerned, is to choose food that is tried and tested since childhood — lutong bahay.
Serving lutong bahay is the core of RSM Lutong Bahay Restaurant, we suppose. It’s in the restaurant name. We often pass by this place, which is near Leslie’s and also overlooking Taal Volcano, but never have any compelling reason to stop and grab a bite. Now that we’re in the area, and since we’ve long ago thought of exploring other bulalo-serving restaurants, we’ve found the perfect excuse to go.
The wisp of steaming bulalo sent my gut to overdrive. The first sip of the bulalo broth, it became clear — the flavor is less distinct than others, say Leslie’s. This, however, is never enough to deter me from attacking a good bulalo. I began nodding by the third sip, then a smile. It’s actually good. It’s like a soft approach, with the taste slowly building up and getting better. In the end, the taste became a non-issue (except that I would appreciate RSM putting more litid in the bulalo). I could actually eat it the whole day, if only that’s not a health suicide.
The inihaw na pusit (grilled squid) and the minatamis na saging (sweetened banana) were ok. There’s the tawilis, a kind of fish which you can only find — and eat — in the areas surrounding Taal lake, principally Tagaytay. You MUST taste it when you go visit Tagaytay (and eat it while it’s hot).
What surprised me was the laing, which gabi as the main ingredient. I usually shy away from the laing in Metro Manila, or anywhere in Luzon for that matter, because laing here is made of the gabi leaf. In our place, the leaves are thrown away, the stalks are made into laing. Laing made of leaves, of course, is too soft for my palate. The laing of RSM, while still made of gabi leaves, is different. It has a smoother, paste-like, consistency, but what got my goat, er, taste buds, is the flavor. They obviously did not scrimp on the coconut milk. I actually ate it with gusto.
RSM has a great view of Taal Volcano (or the Taal Lake, because, if you come to think of it, RSM and the other establishments are sitting on the outer crater of the volcano. There’s a telescope, which is actually a good idea, so you could take a closer look at the crater within the crater, or the fish pens dotting the Taal Lake.
Maybe I got too big, and need to lose some weight, because I felt stifled. It’s obviously not the floor area, as the restaurant has a generous floor area, with a number of levels and a viewing deck. I thought I’d get smarter with each bite of glorious bulalo, more nutrients for the brain, and figure out why I felt like a claustrophobic wreck. I got tired of thinking, and I got tired of chewing, so I settled with the best theory I could come up with . . .
Both sides of RSM’s view deck are covered by a high concrete walls. You can’t see your neighbors. Why would I care about my neighbors when I’m eating bulalo, you say? Well, you have a point, but my point is this — the high walls abruptly cut off the line of sight in both directions. It encases the vision. It’s like: “Thanks for the great food, but perhaps it would be better if I can eat while enjoying my peripheral vision.” Tagaytay, after all, is somewhere you breathe and relax. Open up the space.
Still, my beef (no pun intended) about my peripheral vision has absolutely nothing to do with the good food in strong RSM Lutong Bahay Restaurant.