Lunch @ The Laguna Garden Cafe, Cebu

Laguna…it’s a province in the south of Metro Manila. But it’s also a place within the City of Cebu. But then again, it’s also the name of a restaurant in Cebu.

We found the Laguna Garden Cafe while we were walking around Ayala Center Cebu. It was also one of the places mentioned by my father when he learned we were going to Cebu, and so we decided to try it.

They serve typical Filipino fare which Pinoys, where ever they are, will be familiar with, such as Binagoongan, Embotido, Adobo, etc. Their menu says “nokos” though, instead of “pusit”, to remind you that yes, you are very much in Cebu.

The interior was clean, bright, large and airy. It was actually inviting, and most importantly, the space did not feel constricted. You can get up from your chair without fear of hitting someone behind you, and there’s enough space on the table for your plates and a reasonable amount of ordered food. By now most of us are probably so used  to having to press our chests to the table when someone passes by behind us, and having to arrange our food and plates in a creative way, to make them fit on a small table. Most common restaurants, just like budget airlines, try to squeeze in as much people as possible in a given amount of space, and comfort is reduced to an afterthought. Not in Laguna Garden Cafe though…there was space galore there.

We had Seafood Kare-kare, a creative variation of a Filipino classic, and Sisig, a genuine Kapampangan invention.

Many restaurants now scrimp so badly that it’s entirely possible to get a dish like Sinigang na Sugpo (prawn), with less prawns than there are fingers in one hand. Not in this case though. Their Seafood Kare-kare was executed well. The peanut sauce was rich and thick, and there was no shortage of seafood in the pot. Mussels, squid, shrimp and fish were there in abundance, and they gave what seemed like one fourth of a bottle of bagoong alamang to go along with it…nice!

Most Filipino dishes can also be cooked in various different ways . One man’s adobo may be entirely different from his neighbor’s, but both will be called adobo nonetheless. The same can be said for Sisig, and Laguna Garden Cafe has its own version of it too. Theirs is not dry and crispy, but it tastes good as well, proving that there’s no single way to cook the dish.

The seafood kare-kare

A generous serving of bagoong alamang

Sisig

I only tried two dishes, but it’s enough for me to say that I would rate this place higher than most Filipino restaurant chains. Serving size was definitely satisfactory, and the price will not burn a larger hole in the pocket than most Pinoy restos in Manila would.  I would recommend this place, to whomever happens to be around the Ayala Center in Cebu.

* all photos taken with Olympus E-420, and Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6

We had lunch here July 2010

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