Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Josephine's Restaurant Tagaytay

[Grilled Seafood Platter]

Outlets of restaurant chains in Metro Manila have now overrun Tagaytay City that choices for a meal in the cool mountain ridge (believed to be a volcanic caldera, or the lip of a volcanic crater) city is like choosing from among mall tenants.

Thankfully some unique (by which I mean they are stand-alone, usually local) restaurants remain, although most of these have fast turn-overs (I once asked my husband to drive from the rotunda all the way to Alfonso and back looking for a particular local restaurant, not realizing that a Metro Manila chain has taken its place).

It is actually great to just descend on the unassuming nipa huts along the main road and have bulalo (slow-cooked beef shank bone-in, including the marrow, in clear soup). Most of the pre-cooked offerings are homely and showcases the bounty of that area of Cavite.

But sometimes we prefer dining on a grander scale. Sonya's is a good first choice, but it requires prior reservation, a hurdle when the trip to Tagaytay is on a whim. For Filipino cuisine and when we want more leeway in our ordered food, we usually go to Josephine's Restaurant, an institution that has withstood the test of time, and changing appetites.

I fist learned of Josephine's through a friend, a full-blooded Kabitenyo(a), many, many years ago. From then on I have been taking friends, and now family, to the restaurant for reliably good meals.

There is another outlet at Kawit, with an attached resort, but the food there does not compare to what is served in Tagaytay. And of course, the view, and ambience, is different, although at Kawit that is compensated for by surrounding fishponds that had seen events unfold in historied Cavite.

In Tagaytay the view is part and parcel of the dining experience. Josephine's is a prime spot. It sits close to the edge of the ridge, so it has 180-degree unobstructed expanse framing Taal Volcano and Taal Lake in splendor.

Like most Tagaytay restaurants, Josephine's is all glass walls, with water gently cascading down a stone wall by the entrance. But for a better view, perhaps while waiting for a table or for the orders to arrive, or maybe after a heavy meal, park benches are placed outside for lounging in the back patio. There is also space for open-air parties, and wedding receptions are common at Josephine's.

I once went there with a group of friends for dinner on a full moon. The experience was so enchanting, so straight out of a dream which you are not likely to forget. Out on the benches at the back of the restaurant everything was bathed in a silvery glow, the moon reflected on the two craters and the placid lake. I could almost hear the tingle of moonlight.

[Fried Tawilis]

In Tagaytay restaurants have a tendency to treat food as just a plus - a bonus to the view. Josephine's serves good food, though, so all is well.

A must to eat in Tagaytay is the fish endemic to Taal Lake - tawilis, which is usually served fried or grilled. This is similar to sardines, and can be eaten whole - scales, head, tail, spines and all.

Mango salsa (Php125, US$3), a great accompaniment to the grilled seafood (Php395, US$20), which was flavored with herbs and good for 3-4 people, and the fried tawilis (Php195, US$5).

Josephine's also serves great bulalo in a humungous bowl, but during our latest trip we sampled the kare-kare (choice of beef or tripe, Php360, US$8, good for three), which was sufficiently thick and flavorful although the peanut taste was not so evident.

Sinampalukang Manok
(chicken in broth soured by young tamarind leaves, Php210, US$4, good for three)

A large, buttery bibingka (Php90, US$2), as big as a platter and about three inches thick, steaming hot from the traditional pugon inside the restaurant, generous slices of itlog na maalat (salted duck egg) folded in the dough. A perfect way to end a dreamy meal.

Josephine's Restaurant
Maharlika West, Tagaytay City
  • with 10% service charge
  • ample parking at adjacent lot
    free upon presentation of meals receipt

Other food places I go to in Tagaytay City
Rowena's Cheese Tarts
Mahogany Market
Sonya's Garden
LZM Bangus
Bahay Pastulan


Anonymous said...

Sarap naman nyan. Kakagutom talaga. Thanks for posting it.

Kai said...

You're welcome, Joseph, thanks for posting a note.

Jerry said...


Must try this place as soon as come back home to the philippines. Thanks for posting.

Kai said...

Don't forget the bulalo, Jerry! ;-)

lolita macaraeg cuesta said...

I like sinampalukang manok. will visit this place when i come back home to pinas.

Anonymous said...

Re: "outlet at Kawit...view and ambience compensated for by a landscaped surrounding mimicking a fish pond."
Just saw your writing. Couldn't help but correct this misconception. Grew up here in Kawit; and can assure you that the fishpond is not landscaped. The fishpond had existed even during hispanic and Japanese occupation periods. All the land material atop this huge 10-hectare property was the man-made project of the Sarayba owner who was thinking many years ahead of his time, when the term "reclamation" was not even known. Site is the original birthplace of all the Josephine restaurants. (a Kawiteno)

Kai said...

Thanks so much, Kawiteno, for the input. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

We went to the Taal Volcano then to Josephine's Restaurant Tagaytay at noon time last Dec.14, 2010 with a very bad experience. We ride a tricycle going to the restaurant with two young guys [ drivers]We told them to park their tricycle in the parking lot of the restaurant so all of us can go inside and eat, but a guy who works in the restaurant said they can not park there, they have to go outside and park. Josephine's Restaurant does not have a good customer service. Maybe if we use our 911 Porsche car or our Porsche Boxster then they will let us park. They should treat everybody the same. We did not eat in their restaurant, but went to GERRYS GRILL TAGAYTAY. The food was very good and their customer service was excillent. We told our friends here in the USA do not go to Josephine's restaurant Tagaytay.

Kai said...

Oh that's too bad. It's their loss.