For one too many reasons, a road-trip offers the best solution should you wish to go on pollution detoxification. Without a doubt, being away from all the busy streets and traffic of the metro, even for just a short while, gives a feeling of refreshment, of both tranquility and excitement. And this particular destination would surely suit any road-trip clique you are with: from a family adventure (road-tripping with mom and dad does not necessarily equate to a boring journey), to a thrilling barkada excursion (I know, most people my age would prefer this!), to a romantic lovers’ escapade to the mountainside.
Specializing in fish and other seafood dishes, hence the name Kamayan sa Palaisdaan Restaurant, is just an hour-and-a-half to two-hour drive from Manila to its location at Brgy. Dila, Bay, Laguna. Locals pronounce it as ba-EH, not Bay, so it would be easier for you to ask for directions to the place if you would say it like the locals do.
At the South Luzon Expressway, take the Calamba Exit (the last southbound exit as of yet). Directional signs are generously posted along every street highway so it would not be that hard of a task to arrive at the restaurant. The road forks as you enter the town of Bay, this time take the right road forking (the left one will lead you to the town market). If you can see lots of flower stop shops along the road side, you are going at the right path. Shortly thereafter, an easily recognizable sign of the restaurant can be seen from afar. There, you have arrived at last!
A sense of serene atmosphere greets you as soon as you enter the restaurant, ideal since you just came from a slightly tiring trip. The waiters there would give you an option if you would rather one of the floating huts, of the native inspired pavilions. The floating huts are built to complement the authentic barrio ambiance of the restaurant.
Tilapia, pla-pla and hito (catfish) are raised in abundance in their fishponds (which are actually situated right at the center of the restaurant). While you are there, I suggest you try their specialty fish dishes: grilled tilapia and grilled hito, among others. Their best seller is the Sinugno na Tilapia, which is tilapia that was first grilled and then cooked in coconut milk (gata).For not-so-fish-fans, you can choose from a selection of pork, beef, and vegetable dishes. Aside from fish and seafood, they also serve lechon kawali, inihaw na liempo, kare-kare, and several other local viands for people who are not into delicacies.
And of course, for a genuine barrio feel, all the food here are served on earthenware pots and rattan plates topped with sanitized banana leaves. More importantly, as the restaurant’s name explicitly bears, these are eaten using barehands. Hand washing stations are located at every corner of the restaurant for easier access. Cutleries, however, can be availed upon request if you do not wish to eat bare-handedly.
While waiting for your food to be served, you can take pictures of the verdant plants interestingly mixed with a generous helping of the even greener backdrop of mountains and forests. Also, the maintained fishponds are so clear that you even see some of the tilapias writhing along the surface every now and then. And occasionally, some of them even jump, jerking and darting freely, from the fishpond into the air.
And when the food arrives, it’s every man for himself! Seriously, when my barkada and I ate there, we were not even talking when the food finally arrived! Everyone was so busy indulging and ravishing over the rich goodness of the food. The tilapia are fat and huge! Trust me, even one hungry person would not be able to finish a single tilapia! The way it is grilled is just right. The way it is cooked in gata is also just right. Just right = tastebud heaven! Their lechon kawali was deep-fried to perfection. The pork portions dissolve as soon as you put it in your mouth! If you like your pork well done and gummy, you could specifically request it upon ordering. Their sinigang na sugpo exudes pure delectable aroma. My mouth literally is watering right now just by remembering the smell of their sinigang. And the taste definitely matches the smell. The food is like your final reward from an entire day of relaxation.
Many restaurants that serve Filipino cuisine are casual and homegrown. Even though Kamayan sa Palaisdaan Restaurant has some of those aspects, it has an ambience of sophistication and style, too. A waiting area before you go into the pavilions and cabanas inside sports-carved wood sofas that beg for sitting and good conversation.
The pavilions inside could also serve as a venue for parties (debuts, wedding receptions, despididas), meetings (corporate and informal alike), or even events like a book launches and seminars. You can ask for the availability of reservations at the restaurant’s telephone number, (049)568-0255.
Kamayan sa Palaisdaan Restaurant is open from 10:00 am up until 10:00 pm, perfect as the last destination on your itinerary list, just before you drive your way home at the late hours of the night. Less traffic and all, you would be back at Manila faster. The trip to Bay is worth it. Great food. Generous servings. Great deal price-wise. Great ambience. Definitely enjoyable with family of friends. After this experience, from a day devoid of the stress of buzzing cars, deafening honking vehicles and the metro’s traffic, you go back home with a fun-filled day’s voyage and a satisfied food-filled stomach!