Chef Laudico’s Guevarra’s : A Little History, A Huge Meal Spread

imageIf you’d like to experience dining in an old heritage home built in the 1920’s while getting to taste the most popular items in traditional Philippine cuisine, then you must put Chef Laudico’s Guevarra’s restaurant on your shortlist to visit.

Located along P. Guevarra Street in San Juan, Metro Manila, the refurbished home turned dining place is owned by Chefs Roland and Jacqueline Laudico.

As you enter the gated compound, you can almost imagine horse-drawn carriages dropping off the home’s occupants or guests along the driveway fronting the circular facade. Right across from the home’s main entrance stands a fountain that provides some moisture relief in the middle of an expansive lawn-garden on a warm day.

Entering the building, you will notice several enclosed dining sections where, you can assume, antique living room, dining room and bedroom furniture once stood.

If you’re familiar with Filipino cuisine, don’t expect to see anything out of the ordinary, except perhaps, that some of the buffet items are presented in a more gourmet fashion, especially the appetizers and desserts.

That’s right, it’s buffet style.

There is an appetizer section, soup section, main course(s) section, carving station and sections for dessert (including the famous halo-halo) and beverages.

We were there on a weekday, just around the time the restaurant opened its doors (11 a.m.). By noon onwards, the place was teeming with diners crowding the buffet tables, debating which items they would put first on their plates.

My eyes feasted on the appetizers. There was tokwa’t baboy (tofu with pork), fresh lumpia (eggroll) slices, tiny soft shell crab, chicharon (pork rind), manok hamonado (sweetened chicken), fried lumpia and empanadita (small empanada).

By the time I was done with the appetizers, I was almost full!

I took a little break by fetching a small cup of soup — nilagang baka (beef soup).

Then it was time to hit the main course section. I went for bagnet (Ilocano pork belly), pinakbet (counterpart of the French rattatouille), dinuguan (pork blood dish), lechon kawali (pan-fried crispy pork), fish escabeche and some pandan (fragrant screwpine) steamed rice.

I barely had room for dessert but I went ahead and had pandan gulaman (jello), pichi pichi (cassava cake sprinkled with grated coconut) and some leche flan (milk flan).

Believe it or not, I had skipped not just a few of the buffet items. There was just plenty.

And for an inexpensive price of about P400 ($8), it was definitely a deal!

There’s a catch: if it is your first time to this restaurant and are just relying on your amateur navigation skills, your great challenge is finding the place. You’re not in New York where all you need to tell your cab driver is the avenue and the cross street you want to go to. This is, after all, Metro Manila!

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