Chaya Restaurant: Easy Peasy Japanesey Cookery
A lot of the time, food from other countries come out as interpretations when they’re served in the Philippines/Baguio City. Meaning, they have a touch of something Filipino in them either in the way they’re prepared, the ingredients used as substitutes and so on. While they still come out delectable, you might be out looking for what’s authentic. As in the case of Japanese food, nothing beats the real deal. Japanese cuisine is easy peasy… (dare I continue? Yes!) …easy peasy Japanesey at Chaya Restaurant.
I found out about this place looking through one of my friends’ photo albums on Facebook. She isn’t that much of a foodie as I am (documenting every angle of the dishes as they arrive at the table before attacking the food =b) but something struck me about the location of their lunch. On the walls, hung tapestries with vibrant patterns. I thought it was a real homey place to eat at and I wanted to experience it for myself.
(Walking through the gate of Chaya Restaurant, I had flashbacks of my stint as an English tutor. The house looked just like the ‘makeshift’ academy I used to work at, dark wooden panels for walls, a chunky green couch in the ‘living room’/waiting area; a piano leaned against one of the walls by a window, a staircase with a banister varnished to look like the wood on the walls, and polished wooden floors. Definitely homey. At the back of my mind, I wanted to go see what it looks like downstairs, just curious. Must be the rooms they have for rent. You see, Chaya is also a bed and breakfast. =D).
My foodie companion for that first visit was my brother. We took a seat at one of the tables (one of the few tables that fit into the space between the living area and the kitchen) and ordered up osuimono soup, pumpkin soup, tofu salad, and gyudon. For drinks, we got the ripe mango shake and the green tea shake. While our orders were being prepared, they served us tiny saucers of appetizers which really got us salivating for the main meal. (Gosh, I could eat those appetizers all day =b)
I don’t really know much about Japanese cuisine but I was impressed with that spread. The bowls of soup were hot, tasty, and comforting (you guessed it, another cold and foggy/rainy day in Baguio). The gyudon – a filling meal as per my brother. What I liked most about this spread was the salad. It’s already been established that I like greens – such a Baguio girl (“,). I would like to add that I like tofu too. The tofu in this salad had a wonderful consistency. It looked so firm in shape like bone with marrow you find in bulalo soup but when you run your fork through it, the fork just slices through effortlessly. We surely had our fill with this Japanese spread – even if I changed my mind about getting some potato croquettes.
Just when we thought the meal was over, the attendant came out with our dessert – green tea ice cream (“,). I was sort of surprised since we didn’t order any dessert. We found out later that it was complimentary. (One of the instances where the ‘good things in life are free’, I guess.) For this superb experience; the delicious meal, the (free) tasty green tea ice cream dessert, I resolved I would come back here.
When my friend came home from Japan, she still had her taste buds set for Japanese cuisine and so Chaya was the most logical choice. (Shout out to Ave! (“,)) It was her task to gauge just how authentic the Japanese dishes were at this establishment. This time, we got the potato croquettes, kani salad, gyouza, katsudon that came with a bowl of miso soup, ginger pork on mashed potato with the house salad and green tea shake, ice green tea and tomato juice for drinks.
All of the dishes got my friend’s stamp of approval. The gyouza, authentic; the katsudon, authentic; the ginger pork, authentic; the kani salad, authentic (and now, it’s our Chaya favorite, too). With regard to our drinks, my friend thought she got the short end of the stick with the ice green tea. Getting a sip from my green tea shake (the same one I got the first visit), she was…let’s say… green with envy. =b Race got the tomato juice and yes, it’s just what you imagine it to be, like drinking tomato sauce from the can. *harharharhar.
As for the potato croquettes, we loved it, too…or maybe I should only speak for myself. Xine, the potato head, loved it. =D It was particularly filling especially if you eat it with the coleslaw (that came with it). And so, another super filling easy peasy Japanesey meal that started with appetizers to whet our palate and ended with shot glasses of complimentary green tea ice cream at Chaya.
The next days after that Chaya experience, I couldn’t stop thinking about the kani salad. Just like someone in the family way, I was having strange cravings – I wanted to eat that salad every day (so Rapunzel’s mom *snicker snicker). Race went to Chaya to get some for takeout (“,). I advise against getting Chaya food for takeout because one, it’s a great experience dining at their homey and cozy restaurant/bed and breakfast. Two, they don’t have the proper containers for food to go (maybe it was just that time). They served the greens like they would in their restaurant, on a (paper) plate and with the dressing already poured on the vegetables. Race and I had a fine time transferring the salad to a proper plate while trying to salvage the delicious salad dressing.
The next time we were at Chaya, we got kani salad again (where we savored every fish egg, every drop of the salad dressing. ^^,) We also got another dish which I forgot the name of. Just like ginger pork, it was served with mashed potatoes and the house salad. We ordered another plate of the house salad (which paled in comparison to the kani salad =b. Now, why did we get that again?)
With authentic Japanese food coming so easy now with Chaya open for business, I was like an addict for their food. So when my aunt and uncle came for a visit, I took that opportunity and treated them to a Chaya lunch. We ordered up the same stuff that I got in my previous visits and also chicken teriyaki and sukiyaki. (The sukiyaki was gone before I could get a photo of it. Whoa, uncle! ^^,) Just like me, the kani salad was also a hit with my loved ones. (By gosh, we ARE related! *heee Also, still family for two lives with the previous life as cows. *harharhar =b). And so we ordered more plates of that.
Chaya has been placed on the shelf for the time that I was finishing off my Baguio restaurant list. However, for every dining experience I’ve had there then, it was always fantastic. One thing is certain; I’ll be back to you soon, Chaya and your ‘oishii’ offering of easy peasy Japanesey cookery.
X marks Chaya Restaurant for good (and authentic) Japanese food in Baguio.
Chaya Japanese Restaurant
72 Legarda Road
Baguio City, Philippines
0916 439 4141
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X Marks the Spot for Good Baguio Foods is a personal blog. Everything posted in this blog is PERSONAL OPINION DERIVED FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and since TASTE can be pretty SUBJECTIVE, should NOT be taken as THE NORM or the LAW OF DINING around in the City of Pines.
Its (prosaic =b) contents are meant to help with the question “san tayo?”/where do we go? in relation to eating out in Baguio, to ENCOURAGE EXPLORING (eatsploring) and TRYING NEW THINGS offered in the City of Pines.
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