Eating Through Laguna, Rizal, and Manila in One Day
Who would have thought that an ordinary trip to the doctor would turn out to be a food trip covering 189 kilometers passing through the provinces of Laguna and Rizal?
Originally we were just supposed to submit documents to a hospital in Alabang that morning, but since were so close to SLEX, we found ourselves having breakfast at Starbucks at Solenad in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Since today is Pasig day, I was granted a weekend extension, and the rest of the day to be mobile, keeping true to my Nunal sa Talampakan.
Our options were to go to Tagaytay, Batangas or Laguna. Tagaytay and Batangas have always been the most convenient destination for us in the south, that this time was giving Laguna a try. I decided to take the Laguna bay loop returning to Manila via the province of Rizal. This is not our first time. We tried the route before, starting from Rizal, but left Manila late in the afternoon, that by the time we reached the towns of Laguna, it was already dark and there's nothing much to see since most of the establishments were closed.
We left Nuvali in Sta. Rosa around 11 am, going back to SLEX taking the Calamba exit. By noon we were in Los Banos and is on the look out for a place to have lunch. I remember passing by a floating seafood restaurant marked with huge statues on our previous visit to Laguna, and thought that this might be the best place to eat. Just before reaching U.P. Los Banos, a roadside restaurant caught our attention, Herb Republic. We've tried seafood restaurants before, and thought that this place would give us something new to taste and experience.
The dining area is a very relaxed outdoor garden, with gazebos housing the dining tables. Since we were the only guests when we arrived, we sat on the area with lounge chairs and coffee table bordered by a pond, shaded with bamboo trees. I like the rustic distressed feel of the place, but what really got us excited was the menu. They grow their own herbs and raise their livestock and poultry organically. Choosing what to eat became a challenge since it was really hard to decide. We want to try them all.
We ended up having the small order of an Oven Baked Garlic and Basil Chicken with organic white rice. I was told that the Salads are their specialty but I am not a big vegetable eater so we settled for the fresh spring rolls. The beverage selection was interesting. They've combined fruit and flavor combinations you wouldn't see anywhere else. Imagine sipping an Espresso Avocado Smoothie. We're leaving that as a reason to come back and ordered ourselves the Tarragon Iced Tea instead.
While waiting, we were served with a cup of hot tea. We also took the opportunity to explore the greenhouse at the back of the restaurant. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the name of the lady of assisted us and fill us out on information about the restaurant. She told me that it was family owned and that they are not restaurateurs. They just want to share their passion for eating healthy organic meat and vegetables. The restaurant is still a work in progress since their objective to grow 100% of their ingredients.
The drinks came first, and nothing beats the refreshing zesty minty taste of their Tarragon iced tea. The chicken was to tender and juicy that the meat literally falls of the bone. It was so flavorful that we hardly touch the mustard dipping sauce that came with it. The fresh spring rolls with the peanut dipping sauce were crunchy with the taste of basil exploding in your mouth with every bite. This meal was so memorable to us that we recommend everyone to try this place every time you visit Los Banos.
Too bad we still have a long way on our road trip that we left the place around 2 pm continuing the route to Pagsanjan. We passed the towns of Bay and Calauan and stopped at Isdaan, our original lunch destination, just to take pictures.
The rain started to pour heavily as we drive past the towns of Victoria, Pila and Pagsanjan. We tried to drive slowly as we look on the many embroidery shops at Lumban. We took the provincial road to Paete to see the wood carving industry and the church that we missed n our first trip. We continued moving north through Pakil, Pangil, Siniloan and Mabitac until we reached the winding roads of the mountains of Rizal. Also on our first trip we stopped at a view deck with a vantage point of the Laguna Lake, but since it was nighttime when we reached the area, nothing registers on my Iphone camera. This time, although the sky cleared, we were not able to make the stop since it was a steep downhill and were coming from the opposite direction.
A few hours later, we were passing through Pililia, Tanay, Morong and Binangonan all in the Province of Rizal. As we reached Angono, we decided to explore the Poblacion hoping we could visit the Blanco's Family Gallery. The gates were closed when we arrived, and not sure if you need to schedule your visit or whether we arrived beyond their operating hours since its already past 5pm. In order to make the most of our stop in Angono, we had a snack on a small cafe just beside the town hall called Don Antonio's. The food was great and the price very reasonable. My Adobo Flakes Pasta was only 75 php.
After Angono was Taytay, and a few minutes later we found ourselves in C5 on the area of Pasig. Since it was dinnertime, we went to continue our inter province/city food exploration to the Teachers Village are in Quezon City upon a recommendation of a friend. We went to look for Pino Restaurant along Malingap St. We were told that they serve vegetarian, continuing the healthy theme of the day (except for the quesadilla and adobo flakes pasta in Angono).
At Pino, they have a separate menu for their vegetarian dishes called Pipino. This was another difficult task for us since we have quite a number of dishes we'd like to try but has a limited stomach space. They've reinvented classic Filipino favorites like the Bagnet and Kare-kare giving it a modern twist with ingredients and preparations. We ordered the Chicken Binakol and Ginataang Bopis. It was a real value for money with large servings and the taste was just memorable. The first sip of warm broth literally brought back childhood memories. The Binakol version of the Tinola was made sweeter with the coconut meat and juice and ripe papaya balls. The Bopis was spicy and savory, made creamier with the coconut milk. We ended up having additional cups of rice.
To end the day, we decided to drop by a bar in Makati. At Guzia Cafe in Guijo St. San Antonio, we had a pitcher of Avengers (Tequila Sunrise) and nibbled on crunchy mushrooms while sharing our day long food adventure with friends.