October 02, 2017

Balay Dako in Tagaytay

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  • If you’re looking for true home cooking in Tagaytay, look no further than Balay Dako.

    SIZZLING BULALO. A Balay Dako specialty, it’s bulalo like you’ve never had it before: a beef shank that’s been braised and smothered in mushroom sauce and served on a cast iron platter (Php 1,140 per 1-1.2 kg).

    Balay Dako is a Negrense term that means “big house”, and the restaurant shows that in its entirety. It’s modeled after classic Filipino houses you’ll find in the owner’s hometown of Bacolod. The owners say it’s a modest house, but it’s anything but modest based on today’s standards.

    Breathtaking views of Taal lake are a given at any Tagaytay restaurant, but it’s rare for anyone to find a comfortable place like Balay Dako to enjoy good food and a view of the lake. We recommend getting a table on the upper floors if you want a bit of peace and quiet as well as the best views of Taal Lake.

    It would be a shame, though, to completely forget what you see inside the 150-180-seater restaurant (and that’s just the top floor). Words won’t do it justice, as the unpainted walls of Terraza Bar and Grill (that’s the top floor) blend really well with the decor. The middle portion, called Comedor, seats around 200 with its long tables that are perfect for families of 10 or more.

    PAKSIW NA BANGUS AT CRISPY BATOK NG BABOY. It’s a Filipino classic: milkfish braised in cane vinegar and ginger. They’ve one-upped it and added crispy pork neck for a nice balance of sour and savory.

    Food, however, is king at Balay Dako. Apart from large servings that would cater to at least 3 people (one if you’re really hungry), their Filipino food is second to none as far as Tagaytay is concerned. Chef Ricky Sison, the executive chef of Balay Dako, dug into his “personal cookbook” to give everyone a taste of what he experienced as a kid growing up in Bacolod.

    One of their house favorites (and our recommendation) is the Sizzling Bulalo na Baka (Php 1,140). We’re sure you’ve had your fill of a hearty bowl of bulalo for your Tagaytay trip, but we guarantee you’ve never seen it served like this.

    KILAW SUGBA. It’s ceviche that’s been turned Filipino with local fish and then turned into Balay Dako’s own with grilled pork belly.

    Instead of having the beef shank swim in a savory soup, they’ve braised and served it on a sizzling hot cast iron platter and smothered it with delicious mushroom sauce. It’s something that should not be eaten if you’re not the type to eat at least a quarter cup of rice.

    There’s also their Kilaw Sugba (Php 750). If you’re a fan of raw fish, then this should hit the spot. It’s the Filipino version of ceviche, but instead of serving Spanish mackerel marinated in vinegar, they’ve upped the ante by adding pieces of grilled pork belly. The savory pork belly rounds out the sourness of the Spanish mackerel, making you crave for more.

    You can find Balay Dako at Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay City, beside Leslie’s and Max’s across Magallanes Square. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays to Thursdays, and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

    A shorter version of this article appears in Philippine Primer Japanese Magazine’s October issue.

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