Wednesday, March 14, 2018

From Tagaytay to BGC: Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen Opens at Uptown Parade

Tagaytay's hidden gem finds a new home in Uptown BGC...

Since 2007, Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen has lured diners to the quaint and rustic hidden gem in Tagaytay with their authentic homestyle Vietnamese cuisine. Now, you don't have to drive all the way down south for a taste of Vietnam. You can find it here at Bonifacio Global City at their newest location in Uptown Parade...
It's a story that continues to inspire, starting way back in 1967 when Virgilio Tatlonghari was assigned to Vietnam where he met and fell in love with My Duyen (L). It's a love affair that culminated with Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen in 2007 in their Tagaytay home. Anderson and Rhea Hao (R) continues the story with the first branch in BGC.

Your dining experience at Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen always begins with Ca Phe Sua Nuong hot coffee (P 120) or Ca Phe Sua Da Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee (P 130) with its bold and robust yet nutty notes tempered by the creamy Vietnamese condensed milk. It's the secret behind the signature coffee at Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen.

Serving authentic cuisine with that warm home-cooked style, Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen has been a dining destination in Tagaytay since it opened eleven years ago. After retiring, Virgilio Tatlonghari built a home in Tagaytay with My Duyen, fondly called Bawai Dung, and their five children. By that time, My Duyen, now a grandmother, shared her Vietnamese cuisine with family and friends who visited their home in Tagaytay. "Bawai," which means "grandmother" in Vietnamese, is a term of endearment that served as the inspiration behind the couple's desire to offer authentic, homestyle Vietnamese flavors. Initially open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen in Tagaytay soon became a favorite destination for weekenders with its homestyle cuisine and warm homey vibe. Getting a table in the 36-seater restaurant was all part of the experience. For years, loyal diners had one question, when will Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen come to the metro? And this is where Anderson and Rhea Hao comes in. The young couple has enjoyed the flavorful dishes of Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen for years, and for them, it was never if but when, for Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen to expand to the metro. Working on common and shared principles and values, Virgilio and My Duyen and Anderson and Rhea finally brings Tagaytay's hidden gem to Uptown Parade.

And together, a new chapter in Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen's story is shared in the modern commercial and business district of BGC. Vietnamese cuisine highlights freshness in many of its dishes, using the freshest produce for clean, uncluttered and uncomplicated yet bold and vibrant flavors. This is masterfully expressed in Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen's signature Goi Cuon (P 320), refreshing spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli, vegetables, savory pork and plump shrimps. The briny notes of the shrimps are amplified by the sweetness of the vegetables and complemented by the richness of the pork, perfectly finished by the sweet, sour and mildly spicy dipping sauce. The seemingly contrasting notes come together in a delicate balance, pleasing the palate with its range of flavors.   

Flavor and texture come together in Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen's Cha Gio (P 245), crispy fried imperial rolls with minced meat, herbs and vegetables. The savory bites deliver deep flavors, lining the palate with nutty hints. Try wrapping the crisp rolls in garden-fresh lettuce for even more flavor.

The Bun Tom (P 325) is a refreshing dry noodle dish topped with sauteed buttered prawns, fresh vegetables and herbs, and roasted nuts drizzled with a tart fish sauce and chili dressing, perfect for a light meal or a side to complement your main dish. And it's the freshness of flavors that makes this dish special, layered by textural contrasts from the fresh ingredients. 

The Bawai's House Salad (P 295) with fresh young coconut sprouts topped with glazed pork and steamed shrimps drizzled with the signature house vinaigrette is another tasty option. The young coconut is soft with a subtle sweetness pairing well with the briny sweetness of the steamed shrimps and smoky glazed pork. The contrasting flavors are bound together by the tart vinaigrette to complete the dish. Definitely different. And you can only find it here at Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen in Tagaytay and Uptown Parade.

The inventive Pho Bites (P 320) combines Pho noodles and tender lemongrass beef wrapped in crisp lettuce and served with a special dipping sauce. The beefy richness of the dish is balanced by the sharpness of the hoisin-like glaze, with the crisp lettuce adding that hint of sweetness. It's the play on both flavor and freshness that makes Vietnamese cuisine stand out, and My Duyen's homestyle cuisine is perfectly recreated here at Uptown Parade.

For the mains, Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen offers a wide variety of savory options, including the Ca Kho To (P 520) with caramelized salmon prepared with rich spices and served with a side salad. Originally prepared using catfish back in Vietnam, Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen adds their own creative spin using premium salmon, and it works. The buttery texture and flavor of the salmon pairs well with the sauce, with a delectable sweetness that lingers long after the last bite.

Cooked slow and simmered for hours, it's what makes homestyle cooking special. The Bo Kho (P 520) is a rustic twelve-spice slow-cooked beef stew with potatoes, carrots and onions, a hearty meal in itself. The fork-tender beef just melts in your mouth releasing bold flavors. It's the kind of dish that just takes you back to countless childhood summers when your favorite aunt or grandmother would prepare her hearty stews.

But there's more. The Com Suon Cha (P 435) is a savory grilled pork belly glazed with a caramel-lemongrass marinade served with a uniquely-flavored mushroom egg pie. The tender pork, with its sweet marinade, is pure pork love. Perfectly grilled with its charred edges for smoky notes, the flavors of the pork come through capped by the sweet hints of the caramel-lemongrass marinade. You'll want some extra rice with this. This one's a personal favorite.

The Curry Ga (P 395) is a creamy take on the Vietnamese version of curry, with tender chicken covered in a thick coconut cream enriched sauce flavored with a mild spice blend. Unlike the overwhelming flavors of the usual curries, the Vietnamese style offers more subtle notes with a creamier finish. The flavors of the chicken still come through without being masked by the curry.

But there's one more flavorful surprise from Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen not to be missed...

The Tom Rang Me (P 550) is a richly flavored dish with succulent Black Tiger Prawns draped in a sweet and tart tamarind paste garnished with fresh herbs and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The fresh and briny flavors of the plump prawns are kicked up by the flavorful tamarind sauce with its sweet, sour and mildly spicy hints. That sauce alone is a treat in itself, made from fresh tamarinds. Extra rice? Absolutely.

There's just nothing more comforting than a bowl of noodles, and Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen's Pho Bo (P 365) takes this traditional Vietnamese classic with its light yet flavorful broth with soft flat noodles topped with thin and tender slices of beef, herbs and vegetables back to its simple and purest form. A squeeze of lemon and an extra topping of fresh herbs and you're good to go. Other equally tasty noodle dishes include the Pho Ga (P 355) with chicken, the Bun Bo Hue (P 375), a hearty pork knuckle noodle soup with beef tenderloin and pork belly; Hu Tieu (P 370) with pork belly and seafood, and the Pho Bo Kho (P 375) with tender beef chunks, potatoes and carrots. 

For dessert, cap your dining experience at Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen with the sweet and sticky Ban Da Lon (P 80) or yellow mung bean and pandan cake topped with coconut paste and sesame seeds and the Che Bap (P 80), sweet sticky rice with corn and coconut milk, pairing well with Vietnamese Coffee topped with Ice Cream.

After a satisfying meal, a quick glance at the mural depicting Vietnamese women and lotus ponds takes you far away. But you're here, right in middle of the bustling commercial and business district of Bonifacio Global City. Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen takes you to the home of Virgilio and My Duyen Tatlonghari with their home-cooked dishes, and Anderson and Rhea Hao intend to keep it that way. Simple, uncomplicated, real and authentic. At Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen, now open at Uptown Parade...

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen is located at Retail 15, Ground Floor, Uptown Parade, 9th Avenue corner 36th Street, Uptown Bonifacio , Taguig City or call 812-2924 and 0917-152-2924 for inquiries and more information.

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