Monday, March 22, 2010

Laya ♥ ♥




I love dining in other people’s homes. I get to experience a part of their lives, I get to meet members of their families, know a little about their history. I like the easy and relaxing atmosphere, the no corkage, no last order, no dress code.

And the home cooked food.

Sadly, no one ever invites me over. I know rumors have it that I inflict serious damage on food supply. But you can always deadbolt your refrigerators and pantries if you feel it’s not safe, you know!

So I just self-invite myself, and Trinna and Jer and Nelson, to Ricky and Irene’s Antipolo home for dinner on a Saturday.




The place is lovely. I want to take pictures of the garden, the pool, the cabana, and the beautiful view of Manila from up where we are, but it is 8:30pm and we are late and my stomach is throwing some very nasty tantrum.

Two different set menus are on offer, the Laya Signatures and Visiting Vietnam. We I order both.


IMG_1230 Amuse bouche


The Laya Signatures:

IMG_1236Trio of Appetizers – Crab Rangoon with Spicy Mango Sauce, Stir-fried Kaffir-Lime Pork in Lettuce Wrap, Thai Golden Bag with Sweet Chili 

The crab rangoon is just ok, I like the lettuce wrap better. Sorry, no comment on the golden bag because apparently, some people named Nelson has never heard of the virtue of sharing. Some people named Nelson says it’s not great.


IMG_1243Curried Pumpkin and Cashew Nut Soup with Coconut Cream Froth 

Curry, pumpkin, cashew and coconut – a beautiful mix of flavors, although somehow I feel that something is missing. Not bad, but not up there.


IMG_1247Asian Caesar Salad Sticks with Ginger Garlic Aioli

The creativity confuses us a bit at first. Do we dip or do we drizzle? We dip. But a few dips only and then we lose interest. Boring vegetables, boring aioli.


IMG_1251Lychee Sorbet with Spiced Berries 

The palate cleanser is a tad too sweet. But really, who’s complaining? Me likes it.


IMG_1255Cashew-crusted Salmon in Ginger Honey with Saffron Cashew Rice Pilaf Salad

My New Year’s resolution is to be more like Trinna. First she chooses fish over beef, then she requests to replace the rice pilaf with a salad. I suddenly feel like an elephant next to her. But hey, I am Jin and I am a food blogger. I bear the grave responsibility of informing people about good restaurant choices, at the expense of my weight and cholesterol levels. Sigh. Such sacrifice!

Trinna says the salmon is delicious and tender.


IMG_1257  Grilled US Hanger Steak with Trio of Sauces (Red Wine & Rosemary Sauce, Peppercorn Gravy and Red Curry & Coconut Cream Sauce) served with Spiced Crushed Potatoes

About my New Year’s resolution… scrap it. Maybe in 2020. Tonight, I. Am. Going. To. Eat. My. Steak. And Jer is going to eat his steak. And boy, isn’t it the best decision we’ve made all day. The beef is good and really tender, and the spiced crushed potato is simply brilliant. Goodbye, commercialized mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, potato wedges and French fries. Say hello to the future of all potato sides!

What makes this dish THE dish at Laya are the sauces, three full-flavored gravies that make the steak. The curry-coconut is so Thai, the red wine so wonderfully classic, and the peppercorn gravy, yum! Now that is a winner.


IMG_1263  Cashew Mango Kesong Puti and Chocnut Banana Spring Rolls with Creamy Chocnut Dip

After the steak, this seems quite ordinary. Still, anything with chocnut makes a nice ending to any meal.


The Visiting Vietnam Set:

IMG_1235Bo Bia. Beef and Herb Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Cham – Just ok.


IMG_1240Canh Bap Cai Cuon Thit. Cabbage Rolls in Cilantro Broth – Fail!


IMG_1244Goi Ga Bap Cai. Chicken and Cabbage Salad in Peanut-Lime Dressing

A much better salad than the deconstructed one from Laya Signatures. It is refreshing and sweet and tangy, perfect for warming up the palate.


IMG_1248Ginger Lychee Sorbet – Could use more ginger


IMG_1261Suon Heo Rim. Pork Riblets Braised in Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, Herbed Rice

An everyday, ordinary dish. Very so-so. Pork can be more tender, flavor is sufficient, but no wow factor.


IMG_1264Trang Mieng. Frozen Bananas in Coconut Cream, Crushed Peanuts and Palm Sugar Syrup

And what a delight! This feels like eating ice cream, and a perfectly healthy one at that. Bananas and coconuts, fruits. Peanuts, brain food. And palm sugar, it comes from trees, for chrissake!


The food in Laya is a work in progress. There are hits, there are misses. The place is romantic, the view immaculate, and the jolly hostess aims only to please. At P750/set, I would say it is very good value for money. Overall a nice dining experience, made even nicer and utterly enjoyable by the wonderful company of good friends.


IMG_1267 Nelson, Jer, Trinna, Me


Laya: Sierra Madre, Grand Heights Subdivision, Antipolo City, Philippines  Tel. +632 994-7978, +63917 846 4322

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