Dining out can be fun—that is, dining out of Metro Manila. If traffic is not as threatening as it always is, why not drive a few kilometers south and savor true provincial cooking?
Two good choices are the original bulalo restaurant in Batangas, and the food court at the new Sta. Rosa market. You’d have fun and satisfaction in either place.
Rose and Grace—Poblacion 1, Maharlika Highway, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, tel. 043-7781052
A typical Filipino restaurant, with friendly ambiance, unclothed tables, bright interiors with flower décor.
Service—Unless you want something more special or unique in mind, the counter is full of typical dishes you can choose from. Waiters are available to take orders.
Suggested menu—The rare tawilis, grilled or fried, is almost always available. It is the genuine kind. Then, the bulalo with steaming broth—big bias (throttle) with marrow and meat that come off the bones. There’s real Kambing Caldereta, Tortang Talong, and many more. Leche flan and other native delicacies, plus fruits of the season, are also offered.
There’s a wide selection of pasalubong, from sweet tamarinds to polvoron.
Service and government taxes are charged. Seniors are given the mandated discount.
Sta. Rosa’s Cooked Food Alley—A row of carinderia-type small restaurants where the dishes are cooked on order. It’s a market, a concept that might not be enticing to some people. But it is clean, plus, one does not have to eat there. Most customers get take-home packs.
Service—Orders are taken immediately. Cooking is fast.
Staff—Mostly cooks and attendants who get the orders, pack them and hand over to the customers. They’re quick, but could be loud.
Suggested dishes—Grilled Squid, always fresh and soft. Pancit Palabok or Ginisa, Chicken and Pork Barbecue, Menudo and Adobo.
Cost is reasonable and practical, since the take-home system relieves one of tedious cooking chores at home.