Wednesday, April 11, 2007

viaje del sol: kicking back at kinabuhayan cafe

when i think of quezon, i immediately think, "ugh, long drive. too far." but i found out that there are some parts of quezon that are actually pretty close. and there are interesting places to see there, too.

kinabuhayan cafe was one big, pleasant surprise. i had heard a lot about the place, mostly about how it was a backpacker's haven. it's one of the entry points if you want to hike up mt. banahaw, which is known for its mystical healing powers.

it took us only thirty minutes to get to barangay kinabuhayan, the place that the cafe is named after. i did not expect to actually locate the cafe in the middle of town, alongside concrete houses and paved streets. just goes to show you that reading about a place is never as good as being there yourself. all the while, i thought this cafe-slash-hostel stands proudly at the foot of mt. banahaw, surrounded by lush flora.

a couple of dachshunds were tied by their leashes near the entrance. we pat their heads and enter the cafe. there was a billiard table in the middle, a curious bar to the side, with various knick-knacks on it. the walls were filled with decorative curios: a round mirror with intricate carvings, souvenirs and collectibles from all parts of the country, and wooden accents.

a bespectacled, long-haired man in native garb approached me. i introduced myself, and told him that i had made prior reservations with winston. his face lit up in recognition. his booming voice greeted us warmly, and he led us into the cafe's "backyard." it was like stepping into a completely different place. two huts stood in the yard, providing comfy accommodations to anyone who would want to stay over. people were littered about, talking, sipping coffee, lazing about.

our host turned out to be jay herrera, part-owner and official chef of kinabuhayan cafe. he led us to a table covered in banig, and had us sit on the wooden benches. a nipa roof hung from above, shading us from the sun. jay offered us coffee, which was pretty good (though i'm not exactly a coffee connoisseur).

we spent a good part of the morning just exploring the place. it wasn't very large, you can see everything no matter where you sit. it's a pity i couldn't quite explore the huts, because there were still people in them. maybe next time, i'll get to stay and even climb mt. banahaw.

there's always something to do in kinabuhayan. just take jay's cue and you won't get bored. at one point, he took out a round plastic container, shook it, took its contents, and scattered it on the ground. pigeons and cocks came running, pecking at the corn that their master just gave them. you can even opt to pet the dachshunds. or if you're not an animal lover, why don't you head on over to the bar and pick up jenga extreme! and play it with your friends? we played three games of jenga extreme! (i lost twice. bah.) before lunch finally came.

kinabuhayan cafe is known for their pinoy gourmet meals. for P500, we got a heaping plate of two pastas and a salad, plus dessert. the salad was actually strips of carrots topped with tomatoes and a vinaigrette-type sauce. coming from someone who HATES carrots, i actually enjoyed the salad, and even finished it! one of the pastas was spaghetti with tomato sauce, which was good. the other one was fettuccini topped with creamy laing. the taste was simply unforgettable, i tell you.

dessert consisted of a scoop of ube ice cream, a chunk of melon, and ubeng halaya, all drowned in grenadine. though i have long gotten tired of eating ube (we would make them every christmas), somehow, having it in kinabuhayan makes it taste so different (or maybe it was just the grenadine).

everything about the place was just so pleasant--the host, the ambience, the food. we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. it's no wonder every single one of us is planning another visit.

and here's my gallery of the kinabuhayan cafe trip.

contact information:
kinabuhayan cafe
dejarme st., bgy. kinabuhayan, dolores, quezon.
mobile: 0917-3271106 (winston) or 0917-3680054 (jay)
tel. no.: (042) 5656858
rates: P500 per person for gourmet meals; P400 for a trek to the falls.
prior reservations are required. according to the website, it's their way of keeping costs down and to ensure that they will indeed be able to accommodate you.

1 comment:

thes palmes said...

hi, thanks for sharing your experience in kinabuhayan cafe. we visited ugu bigyan's place couple of years back, and we didn't know the other parts of viaje del sol back then.

how far is kinabuhayan cafe from ugu bigyan?

would you recommend a day trip for the entire viaje del sol?

thanks and happy travelling!

i suppose you are a travel bug like me!!