The Original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que in Tagaytay City

The restaurants that abound in Tagaytay City, a city which offers a breathtaking view of the Taal Volcano / Taal Lake, offer different cuisines to satisfy a whole range of tastes. There’s the usual Filipino food, anchored by the bulalo. Steaks, pizza, pasta, desserts and a whole lot more. Distinctly standing with the rest is Hawaiian food, the specialty of the original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que.

A 4-day long weekend, a rare occurrence under President P-Noy’s watch. It’s probably more rare than when all the 8 planets align. As an aside, if you’re still wondering why there are only 8 planets, go search for what “they” did to Pluto. How about having a panel of food experts in the Philippines, who would vote if a particular food or establishment qualifies to remain in the food “solar system”. It’s like, “This bulalo from a certain restaurant does not meet the standards or criteria . . . hmmm, what do we do with it.” Poof! That bulalo becomes a mere asteroid circling the sun. That would be exciting and will keep restaurants on their foodie toes.

Are we straying off the topic? Of course, no. The beauty of travel is this — you don’t ever get lost. Every new turn is a discovery. A “wrong” turn provides sights and sounds that you won’t encounter if you took the “right” way. It’s like, “So this is how a wrong route looks like. Look at that!”

One 4-day long weekend morning, we woke up and realized that we missed taking a deep breath in really, really open spaces. The Metro suffocates you when you don’t get out enough. What’s near Metro Manila, loaded with restaurants like Metro Manila, with a temperature approaching that of Baguio City, not as crowded as Baguio City, and yet provides an expansive view just like Sagada? Tagaytay City.

There’s no “wrong” turn in Tagaytay City (well, unless your really hungry). Anywhere you turn, you’re bound to find something nice. We’ve always thought of Tagaytay this way and so we usually go there without first deciding where to eat. The hour or so drive would give us more than enough time to rank the options and leave some room for new discoveries.

On that day, halfway into the trip, we decided on Hawaiian Bar-B-Que. Ole!

Hawaiian Bar-B-Que proudly proclaims that it’s the “original”. Maybe there’s a pretender lurking around. Maybe it’s a reminder for us that Hawaiian Bar-B-Que serves authentic Hawaiian cuisine, and, to extend it much further, better have your language straight. Ole is not Hawaiian. Mahalo!

We take comfort in the fact that the staff of this restaurant did not greet us with Hawaiian greetings and didn’t wear Hawaiian-inspired attire. Come to think of it, the ambiance does not exude Hawaiian. The place exudes a relatively formal atmosphere that fits the boutique hotel (named, er, The Boutique Bed and Breakfast) to which this restaurant forms a part of. With a range of P6,000 to P11,000, this is one of the pricey hotels in Tagaytay.

The food, on the other hand, is reasonably priced. The 5-course meal that we ordered (enough for 6 people), plus Hawaiian rice and drinks, amounted to P3,000. That’s just one steak at Mamou’s.

Lunch included the traditional bulalo, only because we wanted to compare its bulalo with that of Leslie’s and the rest. This one has good-sized servings and tastes good, but the soup is too heavy, with too much flavor, for us.

The Original Hawaiian Baby Back Ribs (BBQ ribs roasted in homemade sweet and tangy sauce served Hawaiian-style). If you don’t mind moderately-spiced ribs and if you love BBQ, this one is great. Same with Lahaina’s Famous Beef Stew (beef ribs stewed in a Hawaiian spice blend of chili, maple and sesame), which is a it hot and spicy. Nice. Really, really nice.

The Fisherman’s Catch (fish, squid, shrimp and mussels coated in special butter and fried to golden crisp) is a catch. Our kid, who loves fish but stays away from squid, shrimp and mussels, consumed the entire plate, shrimp and all. This is one of the few items in the menu that is not heavy with spices. The Garlic Mussels on a Bamboo Trunk (fresh mussels marinated in our special sauce then grilled in wooden bamboo trunk, served sizzling), on the other hand, is a disappointment. It’s like the usual tahong we cook at home, with this one, soaked in gravy (for contrast, take the mussels served at House of Wagyu Stone Grill). Just like Pluto, it should be stricken off from the list of good food served in Hawaiian Bar-B-Que.

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