Bawai's Vietnamese Kusina

I developed a fondness for Vietnamese food since I tried eating at Pho Hoa just for the heck of it. As a noodle soup lover, I went straight for the Pho, a soup with flavorful broth, tender slices of meat and enchanced with herbs like basil and cilantro. The closest I came to tasting authentic Vietnamese food was in Melbourne, not having traveled to Vietnam yet. The huge Vietnamese community in Melbourne meant having plenty of Vietnamese restaurants, each having Vietnamese cooks and staff. So when Verdana Homes took members of the media to a southern sojourn in Tagaytay, my eyes widened with excitement when I saw Bawai’s Vietnamese Kusina in the itinerary.

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Bawai, which is Vietnamese for grandmother, is a homey restaurant inside one of Tagaytay’s retirement communities. It’s actually the home of Ver & Yong Tatlonghari. Yong, a Vietnamese, settled in the Philippines after marrying her Filipino husband. A great cook, her home was always open to her children and grandchildren, who wanted to share their bawai’s fantastic Vietnamese meals. When strangers started showing up at their doorstep, they took that as a sign to open a portion of their home as a restaurant.

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Appetizer plate: Goi Cuon (Php 145; 3 pieces per order), Nam Nuong and fresh veggies (Php 250; 3 pieces per order)

Anton Diaz, considered as an insider in Tagaytay, discovered Bawai’s through the Tagaytay grapevine. Soon after Anton blogged about it, people started calling in and making reservations. It wasn’t long before tv, broadsheets and magazines started featuring Bawai’s. Mr. Ver said after all these publicity, the phones kept on ringing off the hook. And it was with good reason; Bawai’s really is the best Vietnamese restaurant.

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Inside the Vietnamese fresh lumpia

We started off with a sampler plate with two pieces of Goi Cuon (Vietnamese fresh lumpia), a sampling of Nam Nuong (grilled Vietnamese sausage) for some and for others Chao Tom (pounded shrimp on sugar cane), served on a bed of fresh greens and dry rice noodles. There were two dips for this set: peanut sauce for the Goi Cuon and the special Vietnamese fish sauce for the Nam Nuong and Chao Tom. One bite into the Goi Cuon and we know it’s freshly made. The shrimp is tender and the veggies crunchy. Both the Nam Nuong and the Chao Tom are cooked with just the right amount of flavor.

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Chao Tom (Php 250; 3 pieces per order)

Next comes what I’ve been looking forward to since I learned that we were headed to Bawai’s: Pho Bo. After a several minutes spent taking numerous photos, I finally gave up and started digging into my bowl. It’s really as good, even better than it looks. The broth didn’t really need the kalamansi or the spring onion saw leaves, but they certainly enhances the flavor. The hot soup was perfect for Tagaytay weather; there’s always a fresh, cool breeze even at high noon.

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Pho Bo (Php 195)

We were all full — the rice noodles in the salad, in Vietnamese fresh lumpia and in the Pho were very filling, but it seems Bawai still have a little surprise for us. The waitstaff came out of Bawai’s kitchen bearing trays of Banh da Lon, or the Vietnamese equivalent of our sapin-sapin. Made with pandan and monggo beans, the green layer is like kuchinta, while the yellow layer is like a coarse maja blanca. It is topped with coconut cream and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts.

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Banh da Lon (Php 20)


To go with everything was a tall glass of refreshing Pandan Iced Tea. This is certainly different from the other ice tea I’ve tasted. Different in a very positive way — the pandan flavor made it taste somewhat like gulaman, my favorite Filipino drink.

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Pandan Iced Tea (Php 50)

Writing this post and looking at the photos made me reminisce about that lunch, my mouth watering ever so slightly. I can’t help thinking when I’ll go back to Tagaytay, and hoping it would be soon.

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Bawai Yong and Ver Tatlonghari and their children


Because lola Yong herself cooks all the dishes, Bawai’s kitchen is only open on weekends for lunch and dinner. Also, due to Bawai’s limited space, reservation is a must. For reservations, call 0920-9722924.

Bawai’s Vietnamese Kusina
Brgy. Bukal, Silang, Cavite
+63 920 972-2924

Location map:
Map to Bawai's Kusina, Tagaytay
Click on the map to see the larger version.

A big thanks to Verdana Homes and to Anton for this awesome Tagaytay food tour, and to the Tatlonghari family for welcoming us into their home.

20 thoughts on “Bawai's Vietnamese Kusina”

  1. Passed by the place en route to Chateau Hestia!
    I wanna try this but… it’s kinda far!!

    But at least now, I know where it is already! Hehehe… 🙂

  2. you take amazing! photos! it is breakfast time but you made me drool over those viet food esp. the lumpia! nice!

  3. i agree! bawai’s is the best! love the homey feel + the yummiest vietnamese dishes! i love it that they’re generous with their servings Ü i miss bawai’s *sigh*

  4. Arpee: Thanks! Three of the photos are taken with a camera phone 😉

    G_mirage: It’s really a must try! Sobrang sulit.

    Didi: Yup, it’s quite some ways from Manila, but it’s really worth the drive. If you’re in Tagaytay, it’s better to head to Bawai than to the usual places. Kahit walang view ng Taal, okay lang!

    Ces: Thanks! Some of the photos were taken by Ryan (the delusional chef) with his Sony Ericsson K800.

    Fran: I know! Arrrgh, I want to go back to Tagaytay. Now na! XD

  5. *sniff* I miss my camera. It bogged down just when I was getting the hang of it. Your photos are really nice.

    Thanks for this review! There are lots of great foodie surprises from Tagaytay pala! Just came from Arpee’s blog.

  6. tried bawai before…. i loved it! they have the most refreshing food experience ever! i’m going to tagaytay for the long weekend & i can’t wait to dine there again…

  7. I Love PHO! After reading Anthony Bourdain’s gastronomy adventure in Vietnam (and his pho experience) I have been craving for pho ever since.
    Where did you go in Melbourne for authentic Vietnamese cuisine? I’m on the roll for the best restaurant and I’ll try anything once!

  8. Hi Mable! My sister, who lives in Melbourne, said you’d be more hard pressed to find a bad Vietnamese restaurant than a good one in Melbourne because of the number of Vietnamese immigrants. I heard there are plenty of good ones at the Little Vietnam, but the ones I’ve personally tried were in Footscray. There’s one right where the tram passes by named Halong, which serves really good Pho. A cheaper alternative is inside the Footscray Market. There’s a food court there and one stall sells pretty good Vietnamese noodle soups.

  9. Had dinner at Bawai this weekend and found the food to be quite authentic and the ambiance surprisingly pleasant. Best Vietnamese spring rolls that I’ve had outside of Vietnam. Freshly made and not chewy or stale tasting like the ones you would find in Manila. The Pho was excellent too, with a broth that was subtle but flavorful, the meat tender but not over-done, and sans the oily-ness that Phos back in Manila tend to have. Strongly suggest the Tamarind Prawn dish which is apparently a new entry on their menu.

    Their food is best described as home cooked meals done just like your grandma would, if your grandma was Vietnamese… ha!

    For first time visitors, the location might seem a bit remote. Food is well worth the trip down dark and narrow streets. A trip to Chateau Hestia (which is next door) is also recommended for that nightcap.


  10. ninaaaaaaaa! was able to try this na! sara pla ano! sarap nung isda nila lalo na yung crispy garlic na kasama! yumm yummm! 🙂

  11. the food is great…yummy vietnamese food…we enjoyed our visit last weekend.thanks to dale and yeng… 🙂

  12. i tried your food… and I love it very much. I really wanna go back there… soon…mwahhhhhhhh….

  13. We are Momoy-Fe Tatlonghari’s friend in the Holy Family Prayer Group. We read about your place in Batulao View magazine. We plan to drop by your place on Sunday after coming from a retreat at St. Brigett’s House in Mag-asawang Ilat. See u then.>Rinzi-Nim Fadrilan, Las Pinas City

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