It was the holidays once again, and we were back in my hometown in Davao City. It’s been a year since we were home, and though not much has changed since in terms of places to see, we took some time to come back to things we’ve missed for quite some time.
The White House
The White House is one of the few exceptions when I said there’s not much new. The house itself is old, one of the heritage structures in the city. Sitting at the top of a small hill going towards the Buhangin area, the old house never failed to catch my attention back in my childhood days, whenever we passed by. It always struck me as something that was equally mysterious as it was wonderful to look at, and until recently I never knew who lived there.
Recently though, the old house was converted into a restaurant, and what a pretty restaurant it has become. The location is absolutely to be envied, as it’s hard to find a setting more romantic than an old house on a hill surrounded by lush trees and a garden. If you want ambiance, then the White House will give you ambiance and then some.
The White House also has the food to match the atmosphere. A Japanese-inspired menu with a sprinkling of French fusion may sound like something unorthodox, but it does work superbly. A must try is their Sukiyaki Hot Pot on Paper – basically Sukiyaki broth on a heated paper bowl served with noodles, vegetables and meat that you drop into the broth, hot-pot style. The outcome is Sukiyaki that is the as flavorful as it is exciting to prepare and pleasing to the eyes. This one is definitely a must try.
We also had the Buta Kakuni, an incredibly tender, juicy and flavorful piece of pork, and one of their very good selection of unique cheesecakes. There are restaurants that you go to for the atmosphere. And there are those that you go to for the food. But this one has both, in abundance.
Claude’s Le Cafe De Ville
This one has been an institution in the Davao food scene. It’s been around for close to two decades I guess, bringing real French cuisine into the city. For a long time it was perhaps the number one “haute cuisine” in the city..and it still is..though it has some younger competition. Claude’s has always served very good food, but the icing on the cake is its lovely location. When Claude’s started, it had the atmosphere of a street-side cafe in Rizal Avenue, one of the streets in the city’s downtown grid. It was already lovely back then, but not yet as lovely as it is now. Their not-so-recent transfer to an old heritage house across the street gave the restaurant an atmosphere to die for. And what are the “must try’s” on their menu? Well, let me reverse the question…what musn’t you try? An I can’t think of any.
This one should definitely be on the list of any visitor to the city. I have yet to find anything as charming and unpretentious a restaurant as this, anywhere in the country.
The Swiss Deli
Since we’ve been talking about French Food anyway, then let’s just continue on and talk about other European food found in this city on an island close to the tropics beside the Pacific – you can’t get any further from Europe than here.
The Swiss Deli brand can now be found in many areas of the country – in the form of sausages and delis stock in refrigerated grocery shelves. But in Davao, you can actually get their food cooked and hot…not frozen. Their two cafes, one in the northen part along Bajada and the other in the southern part along Matina, have been serving authentic European sausages, delis, cheese, breads and other old-world stuff you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere, for quite some time. Though not having much in terms of ambiance and atmosphere like the previous two, this is the place if you’d like to play German (or Swiss…they speak German anyway), and have a meal of sausages and beer. And if you’d like to get more refined and have wine, then they have, what is for me, the best wine selection in the city.
And I once said something like there’s nothing exciting in the Davao food scene. Well now that I recall these places, and explore new ones like the White House, then I’ll eat my words…and I’ll have some wine with it too.
* All photos taken last December 2013, using an Olympus EPM-2 with M.Zuiko 14-42mm IIR.