Quantcast
Latest Stories

Set in Cebu

Tavolata, Phat Pho–two new happy eating places, same great food and service

By , Cybill Gayatin

Phat Pho’s open kitchen

If, like us, you live to eat, you probably frequent the Condé Nast award-winning Abacá Restaurant in Mactan and A Café and Maya Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Lounge in the city.

Owned and operated by The Abaca Group’s brilliant chef-owner Jason Hyatt and his bubbly wife, Anna, these restaurants are recognized for being spaces that unmistakably celebrate the joy of eating. You walk out of their restaurants not only stuffed, but more importantly, contented, with a big, happy sigh—and what you hope is a subtle belly rub.

What the group is up to next we can never foretell.

Nobody saw a Mexican restaurant coming in 2009 or a breakfast café in 2011, and certainly nobody saw an Italian restaurant, Tavolata: la trattoria di abacá, and a Vietnamese noodle kitchen, Phat Pho, coming as additions to their burgeoning culinary empire.

Italian trattoria

Taking inspiration from the traditional Italian trattoria, Tavolata is not meant to be a posh, swanky space, although some may argue that it looks it. Rather, it’s a casual gathering place for friends and family over hearty food and delightful wine.

The sleek, mysterious façade of dark, tinted glass from floor to ceiling holds promise of an impeccably chic interior—seductively dim save for row upon row of incandescent light bulbs that descend from its high loft ceiling to the diners below.

Designed by Jason himself, the look is simple, cool and masculine—again, just like his other restaurants.

“I wanted to use the space as the décor, not the décor to define the space,” he says on the interiors. “Although Tavolata has the appearance of being a fine-dining restaurant, it is in fact quite approachable. It’s very straightforward. Tavolata is all about tasty, simple, value-oriented food.”

Nourishing meals

Tavolata means “gathering around a table,” and that is exactly what Jason wants you to do—celebrate one of life’s biggest joys: a nourishing meal cooked well.

Often in the kitchen himself with his two other chefs, Aussies Wade Watson and Patrick McCarthy, Jason says much of the menu is handcrafted using the finest ingredients imported from Italy, including all cured meats, olives, semolina for the pasta, San Marzano tomatoes, pizza flour and all cheeses, even the pizza cheese.

The pasta is made fresh daily from 100-percent semolina flown from Italy, using the resto’s own bronze die extruder. Those who profess to love pasta don’t fully know just how much of it is to love until they’ve tried Tavolata’s freshly extruded, bronze cut pasta.

The mushroom bucatini with prosciutto, truffle, mushrooms and cream is a godsend for the palate, as is the oxtail pappardelle with tomatoes, parsley, parmesan and mushrooms.

Hand-tossed pizza

The pizza, which many should deem the highlight at Tavolata, is completely hand-tossed (there are no rolling pins allowed inside this trattoria) and complemented by toppings like Italian spiced chicken, clams and octopus with scamorza, pancetta and Calabrian hot sausage.

VIEW of Tavolata’s dining space from the second floor loft. Exposed light bulbs add flair to the high ceiling

The dough goes through a three-day fermentation process, resulting in a texture that is the delightful combination of crispy, airy and chewy all at once.

Aside from the best-selling pizzas and pastas, there’s the Milanese-style pork chop “cotoletta.” For lighter fare, the artichoke salad with beets, pecorino and hazelnuts is bursting with flavor.

 

Vietnamese kitchen

Tavolata had barely turned a year old when The Abaca Group opened Phat Pho: a Vietnamese kitchen in April this year. The opening came quietly and with no fanfare, but the crowd flocked anyway.

For months, Cebu had speculated about what was hidden behind the newly boarded-up space in Crossroads Mall. The sign outside bore nothing save for the The Abaca Group logo, and that was enough to get more than a few people curious.

Like most successful endeavors, Phat Pho: a Vietnamese kitchen was opened to fulfill a need.

“We felt there was a huge gap in the market; the only restaurants serving Vietnamese also serve Thai, so we decided to focus on just one cuisine,” says Jason. “The concept is that of a simple noodle shop with quick service. It’s good food fast.”

Clean and urban

Simple it may be, but it is not without a lot of wit. First, there’s the name. While rap songs might tell you that “Phat” stands for pretty, hot and tempting, The Abaca Group has put its own spin on the word. Its “Phat” means pretty, hot and tasty. The space is clever, too.

“I decided to keep it clean and urban,” says Jason. The interiors of Phat Pho are reminiscent of a hawker stall, albeit one with the chicest furniture and furnishings, from the black and white lattice-tiled floor to the exposed bulb lamps that hang from the ceiling.

The focal point is the marble countertop that runs the length of the L-shaped open kitchen where Jason and his crew are on rotation throughout the week. The countertop is also where most diners will gather, perched on steel bar stools. It’s not a space designed for lingering. The service is speedy and the turnover is fast and fuss-free, as Phat Pho doesn’t take any reservations.

But we all know it really boils down to food.

Phat Pho’s menu features classic Vietnamese flavors that are true to what The Abaca Group has become beloved for—simple and flavorful dishes made with the highest quality ingredients. Everything is handmade, and the sauces, toppings and broths are all crafted with care. The Abaca Group is adamant about not using artificial flavorings or powders, so the dishes in Phat Pho are all pretty healthy as Vietnamese cuisine is supposed to be.

Many of the dishes are surprisingly gluten-free, including the popular little dishes of beef carpaccio and satays with angus beef, chicken or pork belly options. The goi cuon (rice rolls) with slow roasted pork, chilled shrimp or marinated tofu are crowd favorites.

The buns, classic cold vermicelli noodle salads, which come with your choice of homemade fish cake, grilled five spice chicken, grilled lemongrass pork or grilled meatballs, are refreshing.

 

Hearty soups

But if you’re looking for something more hearty, a bowl of pho (noodle soup) is the way to go. Take your pick from the pho bo, Phat Pho’s version of the classic Vietnamese beef soup with shaved US Angus beef, the pho ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup), or the unequivocal bestseller, the pho special with US angus beef, braised beef and tendon.

The banh mi, its version of the classic Vietnamese sandwich with pate, meatball, shaved ham and homemade cha lua (Vietnamese sausage) on crispy baguette, is also a must-try.

In the couple of months that Phat Pho has been open, the response has been “Way, way, way beyond our expectations,” says Jason.

What’s next

Then comes the inevitable question, what’s next for The Abaca Group?

“We have a second Vietnamese chef coming in mid-June and three more Phat Phos this year,” says Jason, “as well as a Tavolata in Manila within the next 12 months.”

He probably won’t tell us where those next three Phat Phos or Tavolata will be, though, and we’ll probably have to resort to guessing and speculating again.

Tavolata is at the Design Center of Cebu, AS Fortuna at P. Remedio St., Mandaue City. Hours: Lunch from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5:30-11 p.m. Call (032) 505 6211.

Phat Pho is at Crossroads Mall, Banilad, Cebu City. Hours: Lunch from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; dinner from 5-10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). Phat Pho does not accept reservations.

Call (032) 416 2442 or visit http://theabacagroup.com.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: A Café , Abacá Restaurant , Cebu City , Condé Nast award , Food , Mactan City , Maya Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Lounge , Phat Pho , Tavolata

  • msI

    Whatever. These guys are so full of it. They are able to fool people with their gimmicks once or twice but eventually, only the most gullible continue to fall for the glam sham. They pretend to honor food but they are only all about the money.

    Foodies always go to where the food is best and they all know that neither the best pizza nor the best viet is made by the abaca group.

    Of course they import chefs because they don’t know what the hell they are doing and people are waking up to it. Maybe they will copy Syrian cuisine next. I hear many chefs are looking for work.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. How to enjoy Buntod
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  7. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  8. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
    Marketplace