Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sunday lunch at Cafe Juanita

If you’re craving for the good ol’ Pinoy dining experience without the fastfood feel of Triple V, or with an ambiance that’s richer and quainter than Kamay Kainan, you might want to head over to Pasig and check out Café Juanita.

Eating in Café Juanita is just like eating at your lola’s house. The food is just as great, and the interiors are... well, just like Lola’s house. In a hyper real sort of way. The place is chockfull of old china, antique chairs, tables, cabinets, and other sorts of Filipiñana-themed clutter. And true to our national heritage, there’s also a lot of Spanish, Chinese, Americana bits and pieces scattered about. They have elaborate chandeliers made of little Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, Coke paraphernalia mounted on the walls, and kitschy little European ceramic figurines all around.

But, even if it is possible to let your mind wander just staring at all the charming clutter, you’re there for the food. I’ve only eaten there on Sundays, and that’s the only day when they prepare their sumptuous lunch buffet. You can start off with their molo soup. It looks really great, and they say it’s really delicious. I’ve never tried though because right beside it is their lechon kawali (sorry, I ate it before I took a picture). It’s cooked just right, the meat kept tender and juicy while the skin is deep fried to crispy perfection. So for my first round, it’s usually the lechon kawali, the tasty Bicol Express (gata rocks), the fried tilapia, and the nutty kare-kare.

After getting my basic food groups over and done with, I head back to their cute little round buffet table to sample the other traditional Filipino fare. They’ve got caldereta, inihaw na liempo, adobo, adobong pusit, menudo, okoy, and all the other foodstuff that any Noypi worth his/her rock salt grew up with. I sometimes feel, though, that there’s a bit of redundancy in the buffet menu, but who cares. Filipinos know that when it comes to eating, there’s no such thing as an overkill.


Anyway, personally, I try to pass on the rice on my second trip to the buffet line. Only because I firmly believe that one must always leave room for dessert. At Café Juanita, they have the usual minatamis na saging saba and DIY halo-halo with very fresh ingredients. But I usually skip those too because I like to zero in on the sweet foods of my childhood. I eat Café Juanita’s homemade (I presume) puto because it reminds me of the breakfasts I’d have as a kid in my Lola’s house. Lola would buy them off the lady who goes from house to house selling puto, kutsinta, palitaw and sapin sapin out of her banana leaf wrapped bilao. I eat their ginatan because it reminds me of the warm merienda I’d use to have when I’d come back from an afternoon of playing hard with the kids on our street.

Dining at Café Juanita not only transports you back to the time when you were five and things were good and simple. For your trip down memory lane, they feed you with all these delicious, great and timeless dishes that remind you that, really, there’s no place like home.


Cafe Juanita is at No.2 United Street corner West Capitol Street, Brgy Kapitolyo, Pasig. 632-0357.

Sunday lunch buffets go for Php 375.00++. Slightly pricey since I remember that it only used to be around 300 bucks. But it's well worth the good food and ambiance (apparently, something we pay for).

10 comments:

wysgal said...

This is my favorite restaurant on my side of town. Can't exactly be classified as "fine dining" but ultimately great for family lunches and long conversations with friends over dinners.

I haven't done the Sunday lunch thing yet though, my family went without me a few Sundays ago. (Boo!).

Miguel said...

wysgal, i can't believe your family went without you. throw a tantrum or run away from home.

ako naman, i haven't gone there on other days other than sundays. but that's on the must do list :)

anyanka said...

I like their crepe samurai and I wonder if it's still on the menu.

filet minion said...

wow you really make this place sound like lola's cooking. and my lola's name is actually juanita! juanita minion. shit ang corny.

bogchief said...

Looks very interesting. Instead of Kamayan, I'd bring foreign guests to this place. But it looks kinda spooky, in an Alice in Wonderland sort of way.

anonymous paul said...

these independent restaurants are gems! very few and far in between. its actually owned by a relative. and while i must say the buffet looks good, next time you guys go you HAVE to try the 2-way adobo, the crispy binagoongan and the bagnet salad. all made of pig. but good pig indeed. and the pinoy ratatoy for the token vegetable serving.

Mila Tan said...

CJ was where I celebrated my 35th birthday with 20 of my closest friends. We enjoyed the ambience, the good food, and the service is usually much better than most places. I've been going regularly for two years. Looking forward to another reason to go back, lunch buffet!
(PS: just found your blog and enjoying it very much)

Anonymous said...

wow, thanks guys for the praise. the family assures you that cafe juanita is constantly upgrading and improving our dishes and our service. all for you guys. im sure my tito would be happy to hear such wonderful comments from you guys. dine soon!

Anonymous said...

kala ko its just a plain restaurant. just like any restaurant. good food, good ambience, priced reasonably. when i enter for the first time with my wife, woooow! its like your in another place and another time. the overall experience was far better than i expected. so now, i include the dining at juanitas, kasama na sa weekly activities namin ng wife ko. our week is not complete kung di kami makakain sa cafe juanita. thanks Dr. Vazquez for the good food, good ambience, and the wonderful experience....

Anonymous said...

i live just a block away from CJ and i never thought this "world" exists in our neighborhood until last night when i tried it out. the food is really delicious - their toffee pudding is to die for!!! and indeed, feels like lola's. i kept talking about how nostalgic it was being there.