Davao dining levels up!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

THE first invitation was for a buffet lunch on their opening day, times with a pay-per-view showing of the Pacquiao fight in November.

Let’s just say, while I enjoy a good match (although I never watch a full fight from 1-12 and content myself with just listening to the television sound and cheers from the spectators), I don’t relish the thought of chewing on food while two men clobber each other on widescreen.
The trip to this new place then was kept at the back of the mind, but didn’t come to fore until Booksale buddy Chinkay’s Tito Charly invited us for after-Christmas dinner and catching up. (To talk about Chinkay’s new love. Swooooooon!)

We braved the weekend sales and grabbed a cab amid several others wanting to grab one to Café Tavera along Pardo de Tavera Street, just a gas station from the corner of F. Torres St., the quiet end of F. Torres where small restaurants are starting to sprout.

We arrived, however, at not a small restaurant and not a small crowd.
With just the three of us, we were the smallest group in there and the crowd was still growing. Big families, big groups of friends, big everything. Long tables, lots of them. Full of people, and it’s all word of mouth.

The place is posh. Nice details. I especially love the framed accents… and, the food is not as expensive as we are now getting used to (what with all those franchises opening here and there from the Big M!).

My friend who tipped me of the restaurant’s opening, however, said to keep his identity a secret. Promise. Not a word here. Not a hint.

But he was there, with a ready order of Dragonballs for the three of us.

“Maybe you want something else I can order you?” he asked.


“I’ve never eaten a dragon before, much less dragonballs,” Tito Charly said.

I went to the fresh seafood section, ordered a serving of imbaw soup (P70/100 grams) and quickly noticed the pako (fern).

You can order pako salad, I was told. I returned to our table with an order of pako salad and imbaw soup.

That with the Dragonballs should be good. But friend wants us to try more.

Errrmmmm… of course my ultimate test on whether the place will pass muster of my carnivorous friends is whether it can bring me to crispy pata heaven. So, despite noticing that the entree are not that pricey, the crispy pata is among the priciest at P480.

That can easily mean it will be more than enough for the three of us. But then, what are doggie bags for?

Next question, “What’s your best?”

Anonymous friend said the unexpected: “Actually, it’s our rice. Tuyo rice.”

We got that too.

Our orders came one after another in quick succession, and along with it was an order of tuna belly. On the house!

We’re in big trouble.

But, hey, it’s the holiday season. Forget the diet!

Verdict: everything is good! The dragonballs are actually seafood bola-bola wrapped in some crisp noodles that you eat with what we call dragon blood – red sweet sauce.

It is masarap.

The crispy pata is also masarap. The imbao soup is masarap. The tuna belly is masarap. The pako salad is masarap. The tuyo rice is masarap. We were there, barely able to breath, but had to give up when we were halfway through the crispy pata. We did put up a good fight, but the crispy pata was just too big for the three of us. We ate all others. Hehehe.

No wonder there was that crowd in there. They have all heard of the good food inside and they have been coming back for more, in bigger groups too.

Where’s that again?

It’s along Pardo de Tavera Street just behind the gas station along F. Torres Street going toward the Bankerohan direction.

If you’re coming from Tionko (the entrance portion of City High), turn left to F. Torres, past kanto Mabini (where La Bodequita and Meditasse are), then on to the next kanto (Pardo de Tavera) where the gas station is. Turn left, right behind the gas station is a chic restaurant. Come in and eat.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 29, 2013.


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