Saturday, April 22, 2023

Flavors of Tagaytay: Kool Times at Klara's Bulalo Kafe

A hearty and comforting bowl of bulalo along with classic Filipino dishes in Tagaytay is straight out of anyone's usual playbook, a mandatory stop any time of day. While there are countless and even literally thousands of options for local cuisine in this southern dining destination, here's one more to add to your list...

In the first of three blog posts, a trip down south explores the inspiring stories of faith, resiliency and optimism from the long days of the quarantine experience to some of the promising new dining destinations in Tagaytay adding yet another layer to its colorful culinary tapestry. Three new restaurants lead the pack in a new wave of exciting new offerings, each one born from the pandemic injecting new life to Tagaytay's culinary landscape. The three new restaurants may not offer spectacular views of the lake, but the menu shines and more than makes up for this. As one would expect, the obligatory bowl of bulalo kicks off the three-part series on Tagaytay. First stop, Klara's Bulalo Kafe...

Located along Mahogany Avenue in Tagaytay City, the bright yellow signage of Klara's Bulalo Kafe is easy to spot. Mention Tagaytay, and the first thing that pops in your mind are the panoramic views from the ridge. But Klara's Bulalo Kafe isn't your usual restaurant with a view, instead it's the hearty, uncomplicated, real and honest cuisine that's the main draw along Mahogany Avenue. A hot bowl of bulalo, one of the quintessential Tagaytay experiences awaits...

A restaurant and café, Klara's Bulalo Kafe is just one of many new establishments in Tagaytay that emerged post pandemic. Combining dining with a cool café vibe, Klara's Bulalo Kafe offers a casual and laid-back experience anchored on the classic Tagaytay staples of comforting bulalo and fresh-brewed local coffee. 

You'll find the ubiquitous bulalo and coffee all over Tagaytay, but it's the seamless weave of traditional Filipino flavors in a relaxed café setting that sets Klara's Bulalo Kafe apart from the usual options. It's a unique concept envisioned by Katrina Ambion and her husband almost three years ago, and finding that perfect spot along Mahogany Avenue.

Katrina Ambion found a suitable roadside property, but plans were temporarily placed on hold when the owners suddenly changed their minds. Being thrown a curveball right off the bat isn't the perfect start, and many would would simply take it as a sign not to pursue the dream. But Katrina and her husband were determined to own their spot in Tagaytay. In a serendipitous twist of fate, a new property presented itself right beside the original site and soon Katrina and her husband were back in business...

...until the volcanic eruption that derailed their plans once more. And the global pandemic that put everything on hold indefinitely. Amidst these seemingly insurmountable challenges, Karen and her husband finally opened Klara's Bulalo Kafe late last year.   

Simple yet hearty and satisfying with real and honest flavors using the freshest local ingredients, Katrina and her husband offers comforting local classics at Klara's Bulalo Kafe. And who is Klara, you ask? In true Filipino style, the restaurant's name is derived from a combination of all the first letters of the names of the couple and their children. From the restaurant's ambience to the menu, one can't help but feel the resilient family's personal touch the minute you enter Klara's Bulalo Kafe

The Krispy Tawilis (P 220) served with a side of pickled atchara and vinegar dip opens the palate with its flavorful richness and delectable crisp textures, and one more bite is soon on its way.

Klara's Bulalo Kafe also offers pizza, like the Sandita's Margarita (P 365), Liane's Four Cheese (P 415) and Pepperoni (P 425) but if you prefer to go all-out, there's the All-Mighty Meaty Pizza (P 445) to satisfy all your carnivorous cravings in a slice. 

The all meat medley including ham and sausage plus fresh basil and black olives add contrasting notes with each bite, smoothened by the creamy layer of cheese on a rustic crust. 

The Beef Salpicao (P 395) with fork-tender slabs of beef slathered in a mildly sweet and savory sauce topped with crunchy garlic bits and scallions is another savory must-try at Klara's Bulalo Kafe. Served on a cast-iron skillet, the Beef Salpicao delivers an aniseed-like sweetness almost similar to pares that's great as is but even better with a bowl of steamed white rice.

The rich dark sauce is infused with all the flavors from the different ingredients, draping the palate with savory and concentrated notes lingering long after the last bite. The tender chunks of beef with its thin layer of fat completes the flavors followed by hints of garlic. Extra rice? Absolutely. 

A bowl of the signature Klara's Special Bulalo (P 595) with beef, bone marrow and vegetables in a light yet flavorful broth is definitely one of the many highlights of your dining experience at Klara's Bulalo Kafe. The flavors of the light broth are rich yet clean, warming the palate with each sip. More than the slabs of beef, the bone marrow or vegetables, it's the light broth that makes this bulalo special. In a tedious proprietary culinary technique, the broth is devoid of any layer of fat or grease on the surface. I'm told the chef roasts the bone marrow before letting it simmer for hours on the pot with constant straining to keep the broth "sebo" free. And even after more than half an hour on the table, the bowl of bulalo remains clean without that usual layer of coagulated fat on the surface. 

And that means one more bowl of pure beefy richness. The savory notes of the beef punches through followed by the sweetness of the vegetables and rounded out by the "sebo" free broth for uncomplicated and real flavors. 

There may be thousands of bulalo options in Tagaytay, but Klara's Bulalo Kafe offers some of the cleanest and richly flavored variations of the traditional local dish.  

But Klara's Bulalo Kafe has one more surprise from their kitchen. The Krispy Kare-Kare (P 765) is their own inventive take on another local staple, this time with crunchy pork knuckles on a thick and sweet peanut-based sauce with vegetables and served with fermented shrimp paste on the side. 

Sure, it's been done before but that doesn't take away the appetizing appeal of a whole slab of crispy pork knuckles in a bowl. The crispy pata and kare-kare combo brings a double dose of savory richness and bold flavors, kicked up by the fresh vegetables and fermented shrimp paste that deserves another bowl of steamed white rice. That crunch finished by the kare-kare sauce has to be one of my highlights at Klara's Bulalo Kafe.

Cap your feast at Klara's Bulalo Kafe with another Tagaytay staple, a freshly brewed and soothing cup of the Kape ni Vice (P 105). The house special brewed coffee with hazelnut blend, it's the perfect ending to a sumptuous feast of comforting local flavors at Klara's Bulalo Kafe. They also offer Espresso (P 95), Kafe Americano (P 125), Kafe Latte (P 130), Kafe Mocha (P 125), Kappuccino (P 130) and Karamel Macchiato (P 130) as well as iced concoctions, frappes and floats. You can also opt for their specialty Hot Kokoleyt (P 160) or tsokolate

And that's not all. Indulge in their Weekend Breakfast Buffet and Weekend Lunch Buffet for a satisfying all-you-can-eat meal without busting your budget, just visit their FB Page (see links below) for additional details and updates.

The post pandemic scenario is here to stay, and it's both inspiring and heartwarming to see new restaurant concepts rise from the quarantine experience adding to the colorful culinary tapestry of the famed southern destination. For Katrina Ambion, it is one family's love served with each dish, each bowl and cup at Klara's Bulalo Kafe.

Klara's Bulalo Kafe is located along Mahogany Avenue, Tagaytay City (refer to Google Maps for detailed directions here at or their FB Page at and IG Feed at You may also call (046) 430 1520 for inquiries and updates.

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