I came home to this. Filipino food shared with my family.

I was only away from the Philippines for fourteen months since late February 2014 but it felt like forever. Thankful for the chance to come home even for a week.

There were no words to express how I’ve missed Filipino food, despite my current work place in Dubai has tons of Filipino restaurants and Kabayan groceries, yet nothing filled and satisfied my empty cup of homesickness.

Home. Probably, it’s what I’ve been missing, more than I care to admit. Arguably, expatriates or so called Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) could easily relate to the fact that there’s nothing more delicious than food shared with those people who love you regardless of reasons and distance. Now before this blog post becomes melodramatic, let’s not digress and continue with the topic.

Hours before we trooped to Baguio City (the summer capital of the Philippines, in case you haven’t heard of it yet), we stopped by a famous local restaurant along the highway of Gerona, Tarlac. It was our first time to sample Filipino cuisine cooked and served at Isdaan Restaurant. Excited, anxious, hungry at past lunch time. Mixed reactions from my family as our driver got lost and obviously unfamiliar with directions and roads in the Northern Philippines. Nevertheless, we ended up at Isdaan Restaurant with our heightened appetite and eagerness to eat!

My son, Gabby, my parents (on the right), my brother, cousin, aunties and uncle and the driver. The hungry gang smiled for the cam despite growling tummies!

From a first-time-diner’s perspective, Isdaan Restaurant looks like little Southeast Asia. They incorporated iconic images from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines and complimented the ambiance with simple and modest Filipino cuisine. They have humongous statues of Buddha in bronze, nipa huts on stilts, colorful kois, musicians and singers who entertain diners, and best, hospitality and a lot more tropical flavors that are uniquely our own!
Even President Obama and his lovely wife, Michelle were present at Isdaan! Gabby recognised them and candidly posed in between America’s powerful duo.

Hungry and angry? No worries! Isdaan Restaurant got you covered! They have the famous, Tacsiyapo wall (Tacsiyapo is a local dialect that means a curse like, “son of a *****”… bad word!). The restaurant became a word of mouth and was featured a countless times in all forms of media back home because of this Tacsiyapo wall. Basically, one can purchase a bowl, a saucer, a cup, a plate, even an old television to throw with all his anger against the wall. Anger management, I tell you!

Tacsiyapo wall. Anger management, anyone?

Another attraction at Isdaan Restaurant is their San Kilo Bridge (or One Kilo Bridge). This allows customers to win a kilo of fresh fish if they can traverse the narrow concrete path built at the center of the man-made pond without falling. Want to try your luck, err expert circus-balancing-act? We didn’t dare.

And of course, the main reason why we came to Isdaan Restaurant : the food! We ordered an entire seafood bilao with grilled pork and fried chicken (that Gabby loved!), Kare-kare (a personal favorite : Usually ox-tail but we favored seafood stewed in peanut sauce!), Sinigang na hipon (Prawns in sour broth), fresh coconut juice with its fleshy pulp that I happily scooped out like a kid, and rice of course. You’re not in the Philippines if you don’t eat rice.

My family less my other maternal cousins and my brothers -Captain Michael (and his family) had flights that day, and our youngest, JC was at work in Abu Dhabi.
My parents, my son and brother and our smiles of happy tummies!
Wherever, whenever…moments are always happiest with my kiddo!

Until our next food-family bonding!

*This is not a sponsored post.



  1. one of the most i always look forward, reading you write about family and gabby and about home country.

    p.s. i’m still not used to your new blog design, i much prefer the old one where everything pops in home page 🙂

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