I must say that Bawai’s Kitchen and my family got off to a rocky start. However, I’m a believer in looking beyond first impressions so this story ends with a very happy tummy. Read on.
The much talked about Bawai Kitchen has been on my family’s to-eat list for about a year now. Despite their newly opened Katipunan branch, we trekked all the way to Tagaytay on a quiet Sunday to check out the original.
It’s a reservations-only Vietnamese restaurant deep in the heart of Tagaytay/Silang. We arrived kinda late and the place was full. We had high hopes however we quickly found that there was nothing left in the menu we could order. Everything was out of stock. We were only able to order 4 dishes (the last remaining dishes). We were a little disappointed but we still looked forward to a good meal. Here are our dishes:
Spring Rolls – It’s difficult to make a spectacular spring roll because this dish is served in thousands (maybe even millions) of restaurants around the globe. However, Bawai’s take on this is a non-greasy roll filled with fresh ingredients that gives this Vietnamese lumpia a more delicate taste. I must say I really liked this.
At some point during the meal, the husband of Bawai, Mr. ___ (I forgot) came out to the dining room to explain things to us (and the other patrons in the restaurant.) It turns out they catered a party that same day which meant they dispatched their waitstaff and ingredients to the event instead. This explains the slow service and out of stock menu.
As a token of apology, we were invited to give Bawai a second chance. Exactly a week later, we found ourselves at Bawai’s Kitchen in White Plains Katipunan. We had a completely different experience.
Goi Cuon: Known to the western world as summer rolls, this Goi Cuon is probably the best I’ve had in the Philippines. For those that are not familiar with this dish, these are rice noodles, lettuce, pork and shrimp wrapped in a steamed rice wrapper. The ingredients were fresh, generously portioned and tasty. The rice wrapper was just the right amount of chewiness and the peanut sauce added that nice nutty flavor. This was SO GOOD that we ordered twice.
Banh Cuon: Whenever this is served at a restaurant, I must have it. It is one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. It is a rice roll stuffed with minced pork and mushrooms. It’s topped with Vietnamese ham and shallots. It’s best with their Vietnamese patis which, contrary to our patis, is mildly sweet and tangy. This is delicious. It passes my strict Banh Cuon Standards. It is chewy though so if you don’t like food with that texture, this might not be fit for you. However, taste-wise it is delicious.
Pho Bo: Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. Much like its Tagaytay counterpart, we feel that this needs to level up in terms of flavor. As it is, it’s really subtle and mild. The broth isn’t that tasty and isn’t served steaming hot. For people like my mom and brother who want Pho to have a stronger flavor, this was really lacking for them. We compared this to the Pho we had in Vietnam and this sadly fell short. Real Pho is supposed to be bursting with flavor.
Tom Rang Me: These tamarind prawns were a hit for my family, at both locations. The sauce is wow. It’s the kind of sauce that you can pour over rice and just eat on its own. I had to tell my brother to stop otherwise he was really close to licking the plate clean. The one thing about this dish that we didn’t like is that the prawns were overcooked. It was difficult to peel them from the shell.
Banh Da Lon: This dessert is pandan and yellow mung bean cake with coconut paste and sesame seeds. the best way to describe this is that it’s a Vietnamese “Sapin-Sapin.” It has that same sticky, chewy texture and sweetness. I liked the sesame seeds which give it a nice crunch and a subtle roasted flavor. I think for some, it might be an acquired taste. My brother commented that it gets more delicious as you keep eating it.
Basil Ice cream (not pictured)- If you like and love basil, order this. If you don’t, then don’t. It’s something different for sure.
Bawai’s Kitchen Menus: Please note these are SEASONAL. What you see here may not be what you get when you go. But just so you have an idea of what they serve.
Disclosure: During our trip to the Katipunan Branch, we got to sample some dishes (the bestsellers) for free. These were the 1st order of Goi Cuon (Summer Rolls), Bawai Salad, Com Suong Cha(Liempo), Pho Bo(Beef Noodle Soup) and the dessert. Everything else, we ordered separately. The meal was given for free because of the dissatisfying time we had in the Tagaytay branch. Bawai’s Kitchen really knows how to make it up to customers. For the record, as of this writing, they have no idea that I have a blog.
Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen
Tagaytay: Hernandez Street, Purok 5, Bucal, Silang, Cavite
Directions can be found on their Facebook
Open Fri-Sun Only
Telephone #: 0920-972-2924
Katipunan: 79 Katipunan Avenue, Bellitudo, White Plains, Quezon City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Landmarks: Crave Burger, Flaming Wings, The Souq Organics
Tel. Nos. 442-8874, 0917-885-1445
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