We got a chance to dine in at Balay Dako the other week because my dad's friends came over to our house and wanted to bring their Papua New Guinean colleague to Tagaytay that night. Since they're not familiar with the roads in our area going to Tagaytay, and where to eat there, they asked my dad for assistance. I just went with my dad so he won't have to go home alone.
Balay Dako wasn't really our first choice. We have been dining in Leslie's and Bali Seafood Paluto. We have tried them a couple of times already and have always been satisfied with the quality of food and service. Those experiences makes us confident to bring our foreign friends there.
However, when we went to these two restaurants, already settled and ready to order, we were told that they no longer have bulalo which was what Kuya Jhun really wanted to have. So we had to look for another restaurant that still has bulalo. Someone from the restaurant told us to try Balay Dako since this is the only restaurant he knew still serves that soup that night.
I have seen their big sign along the highway but because it was plain black & white, it did not really catch my attention. After walking through the spacious parking lot, a big ancestral house type restaurant surprised me. I didn't know that this Balay Dako was by Antonio's.
I felt the elegance of the place as we entered the premises. We confirmed first if they still have bulalo before I left my name for the table reservation. As we were waiting for my name to be called, I noticed some people requesting to be seated upstairs. I thought it was private rooms. I only found out that there was actually a live band upstairs. And the view above during day time was just, wow!
It took a while before they called us. We were escorted to sit in a round table, at the left far corner of the ground floor. There were quite a lot of people when we arrived. The photo below is how the place looks from the entrance. I took this shot before leaving (after meal). But again, when we arrived, there are a lot of customers.
We only ordered four (4) dishes:
1. Halabos na Hipon (Php570 or US$12.07) - steamed white shrimp seasoned with salt and pepper.
2. Crispy pata (Php680 or US$14.41) - deep fried pork shank, brined overnight in salt, ginger, lemongrass and deep-friend.
3. Pinakbet (Php220 or US$4.66) - stewed local vegetables: eggplant, tomatoes, okra, string and winged beans flavored with a sauce of fermented shrimp. An Ilocano favorite.
4. Bulalo ng baka (Php840 or US$17.79) - clear broth of beef shanks, Chinese cabbage, string beans and blackened onions.
The bulalo was really big and was just enough for six (6) people. It was very tasty too. Though it was quite pricey compared to the other restaurants in the area, given the taste and serving, it was a reasonable price.
The food was great however, I just didn't like at how hard it was to call the attention of the staff. Plus, though the wifi was free, they had voucher codes only for an hour. When we asked for a voucher, we were told they only have two pieces left. Kuya Jhun and I just joked saying, "Ang mahal ng pagkain nyo tapos 'di kayo makapagprovide ng wifi." (Your food are expensive yet you can't provide a wifi for customers.)
For people like Kuya Jhun, he needs internet access because he's a business man. Though he might have had a 3G data, it will not work in where we were seated because of the poor cellular/network signal inside. I tried and couldn't connect.
They were almost closing when we finished eating and on the way out, I noticed a shop at the left side (upon entering the building). It was a delicacies shop. Because we were already in a hurry, I didn't get a chance to look closely with their products. Maybe next time.
Overall, our experience in Balay Dako was okay; nothing so special. I hope to visit again to assess if their service will change and to also experience the spectacular view of the Taal Volcano from their second floor.