Contemporary Japanese Restaurant
Legarda Road (beside LOL)
One trend that I’m starting to notice in Baguio is the conversion of nice, old, houses to business places. One particular nice old house sits right where the road that leads to my family’s old apartment is. wow, that sentence was a mouthful. Even when we moved,we passed thru Legarda Road and this house was just a house then. But lo and behold, 20+ years later, Chaya it is!
Chaya is a contemporary Japanese restaurant that plays American jazz on the background, with walls decorated with Hawaiian quilts. Now, nothing can be more Japanese than this restaurant than the owner herself, Sonoko Taguchi. My friend and I entered the garage, just wanting to check it out since it looked a little intimidating and expensive from the outside. Once we got inside, the waitresses immediately led us to a table and we just chuckled to ourselves and said ” Panindigan na natin to” :D. There was a table of three Caucasian ladies and another group of friends just quietly keeping to themselves. This was our crowd, I concluded. 😀
Okay so now, for the food. It wasn’t too pricey after all. The least you can spend is 50 pesos for a beer and about 700 pesos for a plate of nice assorted yumyums– like sashimi and stuff good for 4 people. I ordered fish tereyaki and my friend, Ems had sukiyaki.Rice is ordered separately. They served appetizers and after guessing in vain what they were, we asked the waitress. And every time we did ask the waitress about the food, she’d go back to the kitchen and ask. Still don’t remember what they were but they sure were pretty but the beet–I think that’s what it was was a taste I still had to acquire.
So our meals came. I loved my salad the most. The dressing was tangy, and sweet and fruity. The star of my plate, however, the fish, was dry and rubbery. Of course, my last nice fish meal was in Boracay–freshly caught Blue Marlin. I may have expected too much. Ems’ Sukiyaki was real good, and the serving, quite large too– for Phil standards. Feeling adventurous, I also ordered dessert. It was sweetened red beans with glutinous rice balls–like bilo bilo in it. Pretty good. Apart from that dessert I ordered, they also threw in complimentary green tea ice cream. All in all, Ems and I spent about 700 for our meals, my ordered dessert included.
The interiors lent Chaya very homey feel. The vaulted high ceilings gave the place an elegant look to it and of course, the Hawaiian quilt gave Chaya its own unique character. Sonoko, was very engaging and friendly. She’s a Japanese woman who’s been living in the Philippines for 15 years, most of it in Baguio. we spoke to her in a mix of English and Tagalog, and it’s pretty cool to hear her use a little of Tagalog and Ilokano in our mostly English convo. What’s most surprsing and very reminiscent of Hawaii was a hug she gave me when we left. It felt like we just had dinner at a friend’s house.
( A few weeks later I was back at Chaya with another set of friends–and an uninvited drunk old fella who followed us from the sidewalk to our table. Turns out he’s a good friend of Sonoko, who wasn’t there at that time, unfortunately. He was funny first then became obnoxious later, giving us the finger and liberally inserting the F word whenever he can as he talked to us. I told the staff that if they can’t get him out, we will. We did. Haha. )