Finally, I got to try Cafe Juanita, located on 2 United St. West Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City. The restaurant, owned by Dr. Boy Vazquez is on Philippine Tattler's list of Best Restaurants in 2005.
The restaurant has a "homey" feel -- it could belong to your collector-aunt or your pack-rat of an uncle. There are bottles, trinkets, old lamps scattered all over the place, giving it a unique character. Most of the items you see are for sale, just like the P1,200 old green bottle that was on top of our table and the P150 tissue holder in the bathroom. Yes, look closely -- things have price tags.
Service was a bit slow the day we were there but once the orders did start coming, they came one after the other. The food was good and the choices in their menu -- very extensive. You can choose from Filipino, Spanish or Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Korean -- the works!) food. Here's what we tried that day:
1. Tom Yum Soup -- very good. Has the right flavor -- tasty but not too spicy. It was served at the right temperature. Hot but not painful on the tongue. It had a generous amount of mushrooms, tomatoes, and had 2 pieces of medium-sized prawns/shrimps.
2. Adobo -- saucy with crispy adobo flakes on top. It tastes similar to the adobo you probably eat at home but this one has a very good presentation. We actually hesitated to eat it because it looked good. No one wanted to destroy the design.
3. Lapu-lapu with tamarind sauce -- not too memorable although this was identified as a specialty. Not too tasty and the sauce was not sour enough.
4. Asuhos with crab fat -- fried fish with taba ng talangka. Interesting combination. Comes with pasta too.
5. Kare-kare -- thick sauce, very tender meat, rightly-cooked vegetables. The sitaw (string beans) was even knotted.
6. Mango jubilee -- the ice cream was nice but I hoped it had more mangoes and syrup on top.
Over all, Cafe Juanita is worth trying and going back to. The food is generally good; the ambience, quaint and pricing is reasonable. Main dishes go for about P200-P500 per order. There are even specials, from time to time, with the ordinary bond paper announcing the specials, taped to the walls. The bathroom is clean but it is quite small and cramped, with only one cubicle each for men and ladies.
The only real downer here is the parking. There is no parking area! You will need to park right on the street or on nearby streets. Well, maybe you can take a cab or get a driver. Anyway, I will probably be back with a digital camera so I can take photos next time. I was there for work a few days ago and the client might feel strange if I whip out my camera to take photos of the food and the place. At least, I have an excuse to return. =) For reservations (which are recommended), please call 632-0357.[By Angelica Viloria | Saturday, July 15, 2006]
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