The culinary brilliance of Sagada is definitely underrated. The food, I thought, wouldn’t be as impressive as their picturesque landscape. Unexpectedly, Sagada also pleased my palate the same way that it thrilled the rest of my senses. Of all the restaurants in Sagada (not that we tried a lot), we think that Gaia Café and Bana’s Café are two of the best.
Our first meal in Sagada was at Salt and Pepper Diner. Ray got a generous serving of Pork Sinigang and I had Creamed Pork with mushroom gravy and a big mound of rice. We agreed that the meal wasn’t so special, though. I think that was why we didn’t really expect to find culinary gems in Sagada. Before we checked in to our respective hotels on our first day, we took a mental note of the list of the most famous restaurants that our tour guide suggested.
I did not miss out on visiting Gaia Café, the one featured on That Thing Called Tadhana. The movie may have helped in marketing it all over the country, but this restaurant shouldn’t be recognized only as that restaurant of Tadhana. First off, it has charming written all over its corners.
Secondly, their menu is superb. Aside from being Vegan, their dishes also use organic ingredients and even locally-produced vinegar.
Their pesto is the best I have tasted in my life. I am not exaggerating. We doted on its fresh herb-y flavor so much. The pesto sauce was not oily and not overpowered by the strong basil. The whole wheat bread was also a surprise and maybe if I wasn’t too full, I’d order another plate of it. It was only then that I learned to appreciate organic produce because the camote fries were crunchy and super delish too.
Gaia also has a small gifts and crafts shop where you can buy locally-made jewelry, bags, pouches, clothes, and food. They also sell Human Nature products (buy your mosquito repellent here) and have a library where you can borrow books as you wait for your food.
We had a chitchat with the woman manning the shop and learned that they grow their own vegetables and do not use any MSG on their food. They are also advocates of nature and practice recycling non-biodegradables all the time.
If we weren’t that stuffed, I bet we could have ordered more from that very inviting menu. Maybe when we can get back someday! At Gaia, I was torn between
and this view
Bana’s Cafe is where you can find the most expensive coffee in the world. I’m sure you’re familiar with civet coffee or Kape Alamid. My phobia of cats didn’t stop me from trying this coffee made from the civet cat’s poop! I’ll leave you to find out about how that’s processed. To put it simply, the luwak‘s digestive enzymes further makes the coffee beans richer and more aromatic.
This civet coffee is sold at P200 per cup. They also sell their processed and roasted Kopi Luwak at around P1500 per 100 grams. Yes, that expensive! Taste wise, I’d say that there’s nothing really special about the coffee. I am but an ordinary coffee lover who’d down any type on any day. Yes, it has a distinct flavor, but I couldn’t really describe it the right way. Legit coffee enthusiasts, however, would say that it has a fruity flavor. (I wasn’t briefed that I was supposed to expect that! Lol.) Nevertheless, Ray and I shared the cup and that’s one tick off our list. Just like Gaia Cafe, Bana’s Cafe shouldn’t only be distinguished for their civet coffee or for their yogurt and omelettes which they are also popular for. Because
OMG we had a satisfying meal packed with flavors and teeming with happiness and delight and haaaaay… I was moaning with so much gratification on every bite.
By looking at the pictures, you wouldn’t imagine that these dishes are prepared in a small kitchen with only two or three people and served in a restaurant with a 20-people seating capacity.
Seriously, they are well worth P200. The pork chops were tender and marinated well with a spicy flavor that complemented its rich gravy and tasty mashed potatoes. I am drooling as I am currently imagining myself indulging in each slice of the Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce. It was creamy, buttery, with a mild yet distinct tang from the lemon.
The quaint little town has so much to offer including gastronomic adventures. I bet if we had more time, we would have tried a different restaurant on each meal and maybe ended up going home with a lot of added pounds instead of bags of pasalubongs.
Ah, to find great happiness in food and having shared it with the one you love! 🙂