Sunday, October 2, 2011

BAWAI'S VIETNAMESE KITCHEN - an old favorite in Tagaytay

Chào mừng bạn đến với BAWAI'S VIETNAMESE KITCHEN !!
( Welcome to Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen )

After all the typhoons that passed this past week --- Today was a welcome relief!!!! It turned out to be a sunny Sunday--- I wanted to go out of town and drive up to Tagaytay, which has become one of my favorite food destinations..... I asked my son, Iggy, to call up BAWAI'S VIETNAMESE KITCHEN  ( Bawai for short ) to make reservations. Iggy texted me the dishes that were available --- I quickly chose and asked him if he can ask Phi Tatlonghari, the daughter of BAWAI if she can prepare for me a special dish -- Banh Xeo -- ( the famous Vietnamese pancakes which I wrote about in my previous blog )... Phi said she would ask her mom if she can prepare it for us today...Upon reading the text of Phi --- I started looking forward to my Vietnamese lunch at Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen.

For those who haven't gone to BAWAI'S KITCHEN in Tagaytay... you are missing a lot!!! There are lots of restaurants here in the  city --- but they do not  ( at least I have not tasted one yet )  offer " REAL AUTHENTIC VIETNAMESE COOKING " in the Metropolis... Yes, Bawai's Kitchen might be far from the city ---- IT IS WORTH IT!!! Her cooking reminded me of the Vietnamese cuisine I had a few months ago in Hanoi, Vietnam.  Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen is not a typical restaurant because it is situated purely in their home in Tagaytay. They converted their dining room into a  restaurant.

The name BAWAI is Vietnamese for grandmother. BAWAI'S VIETNAMESE KITCHEN officially opened April 2007 and they serve only LUNCH ( way back in 2007 ) from Fridays to Sundays by reservation only. The first time I went to BAWAI's Vietnamese Kitchen was when it opened. I together with the group of Anton Diaz and the OUR AWESOME PLANET group were one of the first foodies to invade Bawai's when it opened...... We all shared one verdict..... The food served to us that day was FANTABULOUS!! Luckily that day I was able to interview the owners of Bawai to get a little background of their restaurant. Let me share with you a little background of the Tatlongharis and their restaurant. Bawai's  Vietnamese Kitchen is essentially the life story of a pretty Vietnamese woman named Yong, who met a Filipino engineer, Virgilio Tatlonghari at the height of the Vietnam War and together, they got married and went back to the Philippines in the early 70's, raised a family and decided to retire in Tagaytay. As Virgilio learned how to speak Vietnamese for her, Bawai cooked the most delectable Vietnamese dishes for him. Because the original idea of settling down in Tagaytay was to retire, the family could afford only very limited seating. At the time we went to Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen --- they could accept only 25 persons at a time. 4 years after they formally introduced Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen to the public... they have grown leaps and bounds  -- they are opening a branch at Sandari Batulao, which will be more accessible to the locals and tourists.. It is located at Km. 77, Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas,  an hour-and-a-half drive from Makati via the South Luzon Expressway through Santa Rosa. 

Here was what we ordered :

COM TAMBI SUON CHA -  Grilled Spareribs with egg omelet. The pork has a mild sweet taste, with a hint of barbecue flavor. It was cooked just right. The omelet doesn't really have much taste. To add a little flavor to this dish I would recommend that you add a little Vietnamese fish sauce with it. 

GOI CUON - Fresh Spring Rolls... It comes with 2 sauces.... one is with the hoisin-peanut sauce and the other one is Vietnamese fish sauce with diced chili...  

BO KHO -  ( Vietnamese Beef Stew with rice noodles ) .. Bo Kho is a type of dish in Vietnamese cuisine that is braised in a thick, mildly sweet reddish-brown-colored sauce containing caramelized sugar and fish sauce. This dish is a must try !!! Usually when you order this dish at Bawai -- they will serve white rice with it... I recommend that you should try it with their Vietnamese noodles. 

TOM RANG ME - This one was very good!!!!  Since I had Una, my grandaugther, with us -- I asked that they temper the spiciness of the dish... The shrimp tasted like it was cooked in Tamarind Sauce. It had a mild taste and the shrimp was cooked perfectly.

BANH KEO - Vietnamese Pancakes ( this dish is not in the menu )... I had to let Iggy and Cris taste this dish... I showed Iggy and Cris how to wrap the pancake in rice paper just like how I had it in Hanoi.... According to Phi, their pancakes were not as  crunchy as the ones I tasted because they needed to be  cooked in a vat of cooking oil. Nevertheless, this dish was really delicious!!! 

for dessert we had BANH DA LON - It is a Vietnamese steamed layer cake made from tapioca starch, rice flour, mashed mung beans, coconut milk mixed with water, and very little sugar. They use pandan for flavoring. Una loved this dish!!! 

Overall, I would still give Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen a 5 star rating for their cuisine.. Their price was very reasonable... Why not go and try out Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen when you are in Tagaytay. It is still regarded as one of the best kept secrets in Tagaytay!!

P.S. Their new restaurant is opening on October 8, 2011... This time the cuisine they will be serving is French-Vietnamese Inspired Cuisine. Why don't you try that out and be the first one to make a review on their new restaurant... 

SEE YOU ALL THERE !!!!!! To our gracious chef, Yong Tatlonghari --- Đó là một bữa ăn tuyệt vời! Hy vọng gặp lại sớm! ( It was a great meal ! Hope to see you again!! )


Brgy. Bukal, Silang, Cavite
Contact number :  +( 63 ) 920 972 2924


  1. hi, around how much should be my budget for two? :)

  2. we will try this tonight, my comments later, i am excited though. thanks for the suggested menu, we will try all of it.

  3. we just came from the resto, after thirty minutes of looking for the place which was FAR fromt highway. i called them twice and asked four informants from different locations and finally found it. am sorry but i was not impressed with the food. i tried all of the suggested menu except the vietnamese pancake which was not available. at 8 pm, our stomachs were grumbling so we ordered many. in fairness, the staff were accommodating and the place is nice. but the food isn't. even the popular fresh spring rolls didn't impress me because the sauce was matabang, like peanut butter mixed with water. the saving grace was only the prawns in tamarind sauce, which was fresh and at 6 pcs. per order, is a catch. i hate to compare the cooking but those i tasted in puerto princesa (done by vietnamese refugees) or Pho Hoa was a lot better. my apologies to those who liked this resto but this is my honest opinion. i hope there is room for improvement.