Tagaytay: Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen
CAVITE, PHILIPPINES - Bawai's is literally a hidden gem in Tagaytay City. It was a Sunday evening when we traversed the path to Bawai's and boy was the trip a little bit scary! Well first and foremost, it was dark already when we went there and we do not really usually go off the beaten track when we visit Tagaytay; we usually just stay along the main road as most of the attractions can already be found there, so it took us a lot, and I mean a lot, of wrong turns before finally arriving at the place! Add to it the fact that my phone's battery was already dead, so we had no possible means to consult the ever dependable Mr. Waze that time and just resort to the good old, tried and tested method to arrive at a destination: which is to ask around!
The facade of Bawai's looked like an operational apartment that made me feel like we were trespassing when we got there. The restaurant has a 6-car parking garage, while the restaurant was perched on the second floor of the establishment. We ascended the stairs following the same waiter who welcomed us when we arrived and as we reached the top of the flight, I noticed that the tall main door was being guarded by an equally tall and big iron gate which was partly locked; for security purposes for sure. We immediately caught a very homey ambiance when the waiter opened both the door and gate. The place really resembles a home, just without a living room and bedroom but with a lot of dining tables to compensate. Moreover, it was spacious and cozy, we immediately loved the ambiance of the restaurant.
Though they take walk-ins, it is recommended that you make reservations with them prior going. You can also specify your orders as early as you can so that you would not experience ever the same heartache that we had gone through after we were told that they do not have anymore the ingredients needed to prepare our order. Yes, hearing that may have broken my heart and it also made me want to just buy the ingredients myself but looking at the bright side, it also constituted a viable reason to come back here! As for the food, some of them are hits while some of them are misses but what I love the most about them is the consistently generous serving they have of all their dishes. I strongly recommend the fresh spring rolls, which they fondly call Goi Cuon, and the delicious Pho Bo as they both made me relive my amusement for the Vietnamese cuisine. It felt like I was back in Vietnam when I took a bite of both dishes. You just can never go wrong with these two. The Tamarind Juice also caught my undivided attention. I was introduced to the said juice variant when I was in Saramsam Cafe last month in Laoag City and I was not able to take the taste off my mind from that moment on; case in point is that I am now in constant search for the best Tamarind Juice in town! Though the Tamarind Juice of Bawai's had not toppled over the one I had at Saramsam, Bawai's concoction had a unique characteristic that I will go back for the next time I will be in Tagaytay: the chewy, edible tamarind seeds piled in the bottom of the glass.