Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

For my milestone birthday, I spent a whole week celebrating with people I love, stuffing myself silly with food that I love. Amid all the cooking and entertaining and eating at my regular haunts, I wanted to do something a little special, so we headed out to a place I've been wanting to visit for months now.

This is Laya, a Balinese-style house-turned-cozy restaurant in the hills of Antipolo. Owner Irene, who was so accommodating and who very pleasantly responded to all my texts in the days leading to our visit, revealed: "It used to be my family's rest house. But it didn't make sense because we live just five minutes away!"

It's a weekend dining place which is by reservation only, and which serves a multi-course meal for a reasonable price. For P650, we got a five-course meal plus bottomless pandan iced tea and coffee or basil tea to cap our dinner. They don't serve wine, but there's no corkage so feel free to bring a bottle!

Last weekend's dinner was made up of classic dishes with a playful, modern, Asian twist. We started off with Spiced Tuna Tartare on Crispy Wontons.

Irene told us that there were two ways of eating it: 1) Mix it all up, crushing the wontons, or 2) eat them like nachos. I attempted method number 2 at first, but after I bit into a wonton, the rest of it fell under the weight of the tartare (which kind of tasted like chopped-up sashimi). I loved how that bit of wasabi dressing on the side added a little kick.

Next up: Thai Tomato Basil Soup with Shrimp Dumpling and Cilantro Foam.

The dumpling was just a tad dry, but the soup was quite nice--the perfect way to warm us as we were chilled by the January air.

We then moved onto the Asian Caesar Salad Sticks with Ginger Aioli.

Again, Irene said that this deconstructed salad could be eaten in two ways: 1) Mixing it up like a regular salad, with the dressing poured over, or 2) Dipping each salad component into the ginger aioli--a method that Irene described as "funner." Ahh, a place that encourages you to play with your food! And since I'm all about the fun, guess which method I opted for?

After getting through three courses, I was already reaching "comfortably full" levels. We were then served our main course. You could choose between two courses. H picked the Red Curry Glazed Pork Loin Roast with Roasted Onions and Saffron Cashew Rice Pilaf.

Sounds like a mouthful. I can't really describe it since I just got all of two bites. Just think of it as yummy ham with yummy sauce on yummy rice.

I got the Hoisin Baked Norwegian Salmon with Soba Noodles and Shiitake Mushrooms and Sesame Scallion Salad.

I'm a salmon fan, so I did like this dish. The noodles were good, but I did wish that there was less sauce.

For dessert ("Ahh, the last course!" sighed my expanded belly): Bananas in Thai Coconut Pancake with Mantecado Ice Cream and Latik Sauce.

The crepe-like pancake deviates from the usual fried lumpia wrapper. The ice cream offsets the strong flavor of the latik. And since ice cream is possibly the Greatest Invention Known to Man, I happily gobbled up H's share (bless him and his minor lactose intolerance!).

But what I thought was the last course in fact...wasn't. Irene, having heard that it was my birthday, gave me a sweet surprise:

Awwww. Fruit skewers with a side of spicy chocolate sauce for dipping. (It tasted like it had some chili powder in there.)

After all that food, I needed to take a bit of a walk, so I took a look around. Laya has a pool, a wooden swing, and a cozy little cabana.

Imagine lounging with a cup of hot tea or tsokolate-eh! Divine.

Such a lovely, relaxing place! (Must thank Miguel for telling me about it a few months back!) Irene says that the plan is to turn it into a bed and breakfast. For now, it's a really cool chill spot for a romantic date or an intimate dinner. They accept weekday reservations for at least 15 people, and can close the place for private functions on weekends for a group of at least 20. For me, it was the perfect end to a week that celebrated my big 3-0, summing up some of the things that make me happy: good food, good vibes, wonderful company. I would be incredibly fortunate if the rest of my years were filled with all these.

Laya is located at Sierra Madre St., Grand Heights Subdivision, Antipolo. Check out their website at For inquiries and reservations, email, or call or text 0917-8464322.

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Blogger montalut said...

so glad you had a quiet, relaxing moment to welcome the big 3-0, tishie! it's a landmark year, so it's just right to usher it in with both a bang and reverence :)

love you! that ice cream with latik--so yummmmmy!

January 3, 2010 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Tisha said...

Thanks Joey!:)

January 4, 2010 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger ervin said...

Hi Ms.Tish! Finally, got my DSL connection back (after 3months!) and my, my, i have a lot of posts to read! Keep 'em coming - as usual, looking for ideas to surprise the GF! LOL). Valentine's is coming!

January 18, 2010 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger Tisha said...

Hi Ervin! Ooh Laya's a lovely place for a V-Day date. I'm guessing they'll have a special menu then.:)

January 18, 2010 at 2:07 AM  
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