Friday, June 21, 2013

The Villa Pilipino Restaurant: a new Thai-Filipino restaurant for the masses

When owner Mr. Nelson David decided to come home from abroad, he wanted to bring home with him the taste his customers abroad love to experience again and again from the food prepared in his restaurant in Saudi Arabia. A person who is very particular with his food, he learned from his exposure to different cultures while abroad and for 20 years, his menu just keeps getting better and better incorporating Filipino taste with Asian cuisine influences particularly Thai. His loyal patrons then included non-Filipinos, prominent personalities in Saudi and Cebuano friends.

The Villa Pilipino restaurant (named after the "villas" or apartments which are plenty in Saudi Arabia) is the product of Mr. David's wish to have a Thai-Filipino restaurant na "pangmasa"; to let the Filipino masses dine and taste Thai food as if it is just Filipino food --- affordable and prepared in such as manner to suit a Filipino's taste. He noticed that some customers sometimes are hesitant to enter Thai restaurants because they perceive it to be expensive. Mr. David does not want any of that. The food choices in the Villa are usually priced at 120 PHP (good for 2) or 240 PHP (good for around 5). And he added that you can have the dish made to suit your taste by instructing the staff, for example, to make your dish "medium hot" or "really hot".
Mr. David (standing) with the author and his wife

The Villa Pilipino restaurant in Cebu is the first of many planned by Mr. David. It is flattering to note that he selected Cebu as the first venue for his restaurant in the country, choosing it over his home province in Luzon. And in the process of putting up his restaurant, he is giving hope and helping fresh graduates start their journey.

Why offer Thai food? "Kasi laging fresh", explaining that Thai food is always prepared fresh and therefore less likely to become spoiled as compared to food prepared early in the morning and served at a later time observed in some food establishments. "Kahit konti lang, mabubusog ka at may lasa talaga", he added. But he also elaborated that his Thai food choices are made taking note of Filipino taste preferences. Yours truly with my wife decided to try his Tom Yung Goon (Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup with Lemon Grass) and experienced what he meant by his food being Thai-Filipino.

Tom Yung Goon, medium hot
As you can see in the pic, he was generous in using herbs and spices making sure the soup is full of flavor. It may not appear as rich red in the picture but we did not have the feel that it is diluted. I could say it is a nice mix of mostly Thai flavor with a Filipino touch indeed at an affordable price of 120 PHP.

Another dish ordered by my wife is Stir Fried Chicken in Oyster Sauce also at 120 PHP. It was yummy.
Stir fried chicken in Oyster Sauce
The dish was made of mushrooms, carrots, chicken bits, corn and oyster sauce just made right with some nuts. Not bad! And the food was paired with what Mr. David calls "Cebu Champagne", a drink made to taste like champagne without the alcohol content which he specially formulated to provide an alternative to softdrinks, ice teas and alcoholic beverage.

"Cebu Champagne" with mint leaves and some other fruit bits
In the menu, there are many choices including Filipino favorites like sinigang. I think there's also some Chinese food selections. Looking at the menu, I think I will come back to try the other selections.

Though the owner wants to target the masses, the restaurant is airconditioned and has a neat, elegant look with two floor levels and two separate comfort rooms (one for males and one for females). The plan is also to have wifi access in the near future.

Should you also want to try this new resto, The Villa Pilipino Restaurant Cebu I is located in General Maxilom Avenue across Robinsons Fuente in between Mercury Drug Fuente Osmena and BPI Gen. Maxilom or Mango Avenue branch, Cebu City. It just opened this week.