(This feature was published in GMA News Online last March 19, 2018.)
Though its dishes may sound unfamiliar and even hard to pronounce, Vietnamese cuisine utilizes the same ingredients that are native to Vietnam and Philippines. In Manila, the closest you can get to authentic Vietnamese is Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen.
This has been Tagaytay’s best-kept Vietnamese secret ever since it opened in 2007. The first branch is actually the residence of spouses Virgilio Tatlonghari and My Duyen, or more popularly known as Bawai Dung. Yes, the restaurant is named after her, “Bawai”, Vietnamese for grandmother.
The place was originally intended to be a retirement home for the couple, and there, Bawai would cook for their family and friends who became their regular visitors. Eventually, she went back to her native Vietnam and got formal culinary education, as they realized there was clamor for more Vietnamese home-cooked food. Soon, they opened their home and that was the start of something big.
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