Eat anything edible. This is probably one of the tips taught in Subic jungle survival course. I can eat almost anything, except, well, many vegetables. Still, it would be nice to enjoy good food in a place with good ambiance. Just like in the Isdaan Restaurant in Gerona, Tarlac.
These are the reasons why I appreciate the Isdaan Restaurant, located in Gerona, Tarlac — a perfect spot midway to Baguio from Metro Manila, not so much in distance, but in terms of, how do I say it, level of starvation? Isdaan is a big place and this floating restaurant is just beside the road (at the left side if you’re going towards the direction of Baguio), so you won’t probably miss it. You’ll see the big Isdaan signage, as well as the big, brown fox, er, fish sculptures and Mayan-inspired statues.
Choose the single cottages in the middle of the floating restaurant, as it gives you precious space from the rest of the crowd and a great view of the plentiful fish swimming below. It’s after all a floating restaurant and there’s water under and around the cottage where you’re sitting down. You could ask for fish food and feed the fish while waiting for the food you’ve ordered. A welcome diversion for the kids.
Visit the Tacsiyapo wall (some spell it tacsiapo), to let off steam and release stress. The projectiles come in different shapes and sizes. There are plates, cups, or even TVs that could be thrown against the wall. Try throwing a ref if you could lift it. Shouting “tacsiyapo” (which, I was told, is a local expletive) while throwing the items against the wall is supposed to make you feel better. I wouldn’t know. I didn’t try it. I’d rather use the money to buy extra rice. By the way, the fish food is free, but the plates and TV are not.
There are freebies, one kilo of fish to be exact, although we haven’t tried it because: (a) we don’t want the car to smell like a one-kilo bag of fish in the 3-hour drive back to Manila; (b) you win the prize after going through, among other obstacles, a very narrow walkway framed by fishponds on both sides and we prefer going home dry; and (c) only once did we stop at Isdaan while the sun was still up, mostly it’s night time on the way back to Manila, and it’s naturally more difficult to navigate through the obstacles when it’s dark. We heard some have tried the Isang Kilong Isda challenge and if you’re one of them, do tell us what happened through the comment section below.
Now, let’s get back to the food. We had pork spare ribs, sinigang na hipon sa buho (cooked in bamboo) and innapoy (stuffed native rice rolls, which looks pretty much like the regular suman, except that the innapoy is a complete meal by itself). The pansit canton tastes good. There are more choices in the menu, but these are the ones we usually order every time we drop by Isdaan. That’s enough food to last you until Baguio (or Metro Manila, depending on which direction you’re going).
Isdaan is like an oasis that beckons to the hungry traveler to take a break from the long drive and enjoy good food. Or perhaps pose for a photograph with Erap. Don’t worry about the stiff guard at the entrance because he’s always asleep and he’s, well, a statue, fitting welcome for guests who go in stiff and cramped after a long drive. Enjoy!