DESTINATION dining. It is one of the things that people drive up to Tagaytay for. Cool breeze, breathtaking view of Taal Lake with the curious-looking world’s smallest volcano as highlight, and a refreshing overall feeling as you drive down rows upon rows of cafés and restaurants that line the major thoroughfares. Quite a number of them are locally developed establishments, with some really special destination dining places preferring to stay hidden in the suburbs of the city.
Just recently, a new restaurant has opened in Tagaytay and, this early, is starting to make its presence felt among food lovers driving up to the city. It is called Dekada. Located within the Royale Parc Hotel, whose tranquil vibe adds an even more distinctive dining ambiance to the restaurant, Dekada takes diners on a culinary journey down Philippine history. It elevates authentic Filipino dining to a whole new level with its interpretation of well-loved local dishes that it has named after heroes and historical events.
The restaurant’s walk down Philippine history starts with the Lumpiang Palabok, which are bite-sized amounts of palabok noodles wrapped in rice paper with grilled mahi-mahi fish. This is inspired by Antonio Pigafetta’s first account of the Spaniards’ visit to the Philippines, when they served roast mahi-mahi with rice wrapped in leaves.
Another starter on the menu is the Duweto ng Kinilaw, a serving of tanigue ceviche in coconut milk and a serving of shrimps ‘cooked’ in vinegar with mango served together. Kinilaw has long been a method of preparing food endemic to pre-colonial Philippines, especially in the Visayan region.
Fresh greens, which are abundant in Tagaytay, take center stage in Dekada’s Ensaladas de Alianza, or Salads of Alliance, which refers to the first alliances between the Filipinos and Spaniards. Inspired by the best regional flavors, Dekada introduces Legazpi, or Sinuglaw Salad, which originates from Cebu and Davao. It is a starter that marries raw fish and Davao, thus the combination of tanigue, smoked liempo, finished off with Davao’s pomelo and sinamak vinaigrette.
Then there’s Melchora, which is Dekada’s version of Chicken Binakol named after “the grand woman of the Revolution,” and another soup, hearty Bulalo, finds itself on the menu of the restaurant in the guise of La Solidaridad.
Homenajes Arroz, or Rice Tributes, refer to the practice of offering rice to God as a token of gratitude for a good harvest. So the rice options at Dekada are named Benedictino (aligue and alimasag fried rice), Dominicano (adobo rice), Franciscano (dilis rice), and Agustino (bagoong rice).
Main dishes are much more interesting, as they involve a short history lesson on “the Sons of the Revolution,” including Del Pilar (chicken inasal), Aguinaldo (twice-cooked adobo), and Ponce (Pinoy-style oven-roasted chicken). The piece-de-resistance, named after the National Hero Jose Rizal, is Sizzling Bulalo Steak made with Tagaytay’s freshest beef.
And who will be able to resist the call of the Dekada Crispy Pata, more so its garlic version, Malvar?
Seafood is well-represented by personalities and historical milestones that occurred during the American colonial period, such as Roosevelt (garlic and butter prawns) and Murphy (crispy plapla with eggplant).
For vegetable dishes on the menu, Dekada turned to the period of Japanese occupation for names: Peralta (gising-gising), Taruc (laing) and Hukbalahap (pinakbet), plus soup dishes called Abcede (sinigang na sugpo), Ingeniero (sinigang na spareribs) and Gumbang Piang (sinigang na salmon head).
Lest millennials feel left out, the restaurant moves into pop culture territory with its Crazy Rich Asian Bowls, which are decadent rice bowls that offer sumptuous Asian-inspired flavors. These are Angus Beef Tapa, Chicken Inasal Satay, Gourmet Spicy Tuna, and Muscovado Beef Pares, among others.
Dessert is a choice among equally delightful sweet treats, such as Sweet Nostalgia (a medley of Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Banana Cue); Suman at Mangga Pandan Crepe Rolls; Chocnut Turon ala Mode; and Taho at Kesong Puti Cheesecake. Don’t forget the Buko Crumble Pie, Dekada’s version of Buko Pie filled with soft coconut meat with a warm pie crust topped with delectable crumble. It is a hit pasalubong treat!
For drinks, the Thirst for Freedom line includes fresh juices, shakes and dessert drinks like Ube Shake and Mango Sago.
Completing its menu are merienda favorites, such as Pancit Palabok, Pancit Bihon, Tokwa’t Baboy, Okoy and Palitaw.
(Dekada is located at Royale Parc Hotel Tagaytay, Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Silang Junction West, Tagaytay City; with telephone numbers 0923-0889055, 0915-6959588, (02) 984-1297 and (046) 402-1980.)