There’s an infinite number of spaces in Manila to eat, chill and hang out with friends. But it seems we never really get any less tense when we do go out. The endless hustle and bustle of people and cars, not to mention the lethal pollution of Manila, are all hotboxing the once great city with toxic fumes. And when people resolve to get out of the city, they can’t make it out.
Only 70 kilometers away is a small bungalow with a perfect balcony overlooking the iconic Taal Lake, blanketed by the November mist. But cool air isn’t the only tourist attraction in Tagaytay. Lo and behold, a series of Bulaluhan dominate the Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway, luring passersby with heartwarming Bulalo Soup to ease their travels. One particular Bulalo house has gained some attention, but is still somewhat an underdog in the business.
Bulalo Point of Tagaytay, Cavite is the perfect place to sit back and have a quiet lunch with a few friends. The south of Luzon has always been known for its easygoing culture, making it an absolutely stress-free haven for workaholics. Bulalo Point’s simple menu does wonders for people who are normally completely wound up. All fall silent when the food arrives—especially when they’ve ordered bestsellers.
No one leaves without tasting the Special Bulalo—it would be blasphemous. Start the meal with a sip of its soup and it could shed all the stress weighing down on you. It takes over and warms your entire being as you drift off and unconsciously take another sip. It’s best taken while it’s still hot, before the oils start to clump together. This bulalo dish is by far the most unusual one yet. You don’t have to scoop and slurp the bone marrow out for more flavor—all the beef’s richness is infused in the soup! Following this rather traditional bulalo is something even more interesting—sweet Kare-Kare Bulalo. Paired with a spoonful of bagoong, this dish is completely irresistible. The chunks of beef break apart at once, and melt in the mouth faster than you can say moo. You have now set the bar for the rest of your food trip.
Tagaytay is also famous for its pie and tart delicacies, made best by Rowena’s. There are quite a number of branches along the same road, so it’s no problem if you suddenly change your mind about giving in to your cravings for some of their scrumptious Buko or Apple Tarts. You might even find yourself grinning from ear to ear from a single sweet bite. Grabbing another box from the shelves for friends and family back home wouldn’t hurt either, because you actually get much more than your money’s worth. And don’t hesitate to sip some coffee while you’re at it—Bag of Beans is right next door. Its main location a few kilometers down Emilio Aguinaldo Highway had gained so much attention, Bag of Beans built two more close by, even after expanding the original. One hot mug of coffee, tea or cocoa would be enough to help melt down some of the lean meat from the last hearty meal.
The key to a successful food trip is pacing. Take a short break from the food trip, and on your way back, don’t miss The Green Olive Cafe for an interesting array of board games free for playing with the barkada. Board games are no longer just for that weird unadventurous family crowding over an intense Scrabble match at the coffee table. Friends could spend hours on Cards Against Humanity, Time’s Up, Wits and Wagers, and so much more. They only have 3 simple rules: eat, drink, and play. All sorts of board games for all sorts of people add more flavor to the dining experience than salt does.
Once ready to indulge again, roll over to Solenad 3, Nuvali to Harry’s Café de Wheels. The iconic Australian pie cart has made its way to the Philippines to give us a taste of celebrity-favorite pastries since the 1940s. This fast food café gives people’s taste buds something to fantasize about. The special Tiger pie, Fish and Chips, and Harry’s exceptional fried chicken all contribute different flavors yet so harmoniously. Named after its founder, Harry ‘Tiger’ Edwards, the Tiger Pie’s curious combo of mushy peas and mashed potatoes with beef pie has topped pastry lists even way beyond Bag of Beans’s famous Shepherd’s Pie. Fried Chicken will also never taste as good after trying Harry’s Chicken coated in pepper breading. Hands down, this is high quality fast food. And this is precisely why people escape Manila. They want to eat real food and bask in the rustic ambiance of the provincial/suburban life.
So you’re strung up in the middle of the week and you still want to be able to say TGIF—take the day off and drive right to the closest destination. Tagaytay is far enough for a relaxing road trip, and near enough for a road trip on a tight schedule. It’s both time and cost-efficient. In an hour and a half and under 200 pesos in toll, you’ll find yourself waited on while you admire the view of the lake. 500 pesos is more than enough for food to share, and a thousand can feed a class. Also perfect for the holidays, Tagaytay and Nuvali are great for family gatherings too. Spending some quality time with the folks could be much more genuine in a setting like this. The next thing you know, you’ll be driving home with renewed sporting spirit, ready to dive back into the toxic cesspool of Manila.