I know how it feels to realize Mother’s Day is just a couple of days away and you and your siblings still haven’t decided where to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. So, I have two suggestions to help you:
1) If celebrating on THE day is not the best idea for everyone (Think: It will be crowded in ALL restaurants, malls, and hotels), why not celebrate a day or two earlier or the following weekend? Your loving mom will definitely understand. Maybe just find some other way to make her feel special at home on Mother’s Day, May 10.
2) Whether you decide to celebrate days earlier, on the day, or the weekend after, we’re quite sure your mom and the whole family will love dining at TĀZA Fresh Table, Taal Vista Hotel’s new restaurant located at The Ridge overlooking the Taal Lake and Volcano in Tagaytay (click here to book your stay at the hotel). It’s semi-fine dining, perfect for special occasions like Mother’s Day when you want something more fancy yet relaxing for Mom.
The name TĀZA is derived from the Arabic word Taaza which means fresh. The country garden-inspired restaurant where guests can have an enjoyable dining experience features a scenic 180-degree view with glass walls and an open kitchen.
TĀZA Fresh Table offers innovative international cuisine utilizing the best ingredients meticulously sourced from local suppliers. 95% of the ingredients are sourced from regions where they are produced such as prawn from Iloilo (yay!), duck from Laguna, lobster from Batangas, mangoes from Cebu, coffee beans and black rice from Negros Island, and organic herbs and vegetables from Benguet, Cavite, Batangas, and Taal Vista Hotel’s own garden.
Photo courtesy of TĀZA
I tried some of their menu items, and I can tell you right now, I enjoyed each and every single one of them. You definitely have to come hungry! Here are some of my suggestions for what to order when you treat Mom to lunch or dinner here:
All Mezzes, a selection of small dishes that pair well with your drinks (AKA pulutan) or can be appetizers, are served with light-tasting, slightly soft flatbread that complements the dishes yet never steals the show. You can get a starter set choice of four items at P700, and we had the following (from left to right):
Chorizo with Garlic (P230 for a solo order). My favorite among the Mezzes I tried, the bold flavors of garlic and chorizo—which they make in-house using their own smoker—are pleasantly not overwhelming. There’s a good balance of spice and savory flavors.
Boquerones (P200 for a solo order). The marinated anchovies had an acidic taste, which reminded me of Kinilaw. You can really taste the freshness of the soft and juicy fish.
Marinated Mushroom. They used various types of fresh mushrooms for this Mezze, like shiitake, oyster, and button. It had a slight acidity, but you can really taste the olive oil.
Babaganoush (P200 for a solo order). You can really taste the freshness and good balance of sweetness and acidity from how they made this eggplant dish.
Alugbati Salad, P375
Alugbati (vine spinach), wild arugula, jicama, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and Naga pili nuts, are drizzled with salted egg-citrus vinaigrette that gave this lightly salty salad its acidic flavor. Some of the leaves are fried in egg, giving it that crunchy texture and tasty flavor. I enjoyed its super fresh taste! Lasang-lasa ang greens. It’s like you picked it while walking around the farm and ate the leaves fresh.
Heirloom Tomato Salad
The salad has a mix of baby tomatoes and huge tomatoes, with everything oh so sweet! The sweet giant tomatoes that came from the Taal Vista Hotel’s own garden is deliciously juicy and and fresh! They’re served with olive oil and feta cheese.
Squid, Shrimps, and Anchovies Pizza, P395
TĀZA gets its seafood from partner suppliers in Iloilo who ship their catch of the day almost everyday to ensure that it’s fresh. Aside from the seafood, this pizza is also topped with tomatoes, Laguna mozzarella cheese, and capers. The first thing I noticed about this pizza the moment it was placed on our table was how good it smelled! The second thing is how there’s so much cheese! The third is how the anchovies and capers in particular made this pizza savory and flavorful. Meanwhile, the tomatoes gave the sauce a slight sweetness that was friendly on the palate.
Grilled Vegetable Pizza, P380
This pizza is topped with grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted green peppers, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, caramelized onions, oregano, Laguna mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, truffle oil, and balsamic glace. The fresh veggies had a sweetness about them. It’s like your entire garden in your thin-crust pizza, which is crunchy yet substantial. It has a Bechamel sauce base and is oozing with cheese, making everything so delectable.
Salsa Verde with Pancetta, P380
This pizza is topped with roasted zucchini, Laguna mozzarella, crispy squash blossoms, tomatoes, and the delicious pancetta. This tender Italian bacon is cured for 10 days and air-dried for 20 days, to give it its well-balanced savory flavor. The salsa verde reminded me of pesto, naturally, and it’s just as aromatic. I particularly love how this pizza is loaded with cheese! There’s a slight sweetness to the sauce that took the edge off the overload of spices and flavors.
Homemade Bacon, P350
Two thick slabs of 10-day cured and 6-hour smoked bacon come with sweet homemade glaze/sauce that I couldn’t get enough of and apple-mango compote as a fresh and fruity pantanggal-umay. Thanks to the long cooking process, the meat is super tender, juicy, and very flavorful—it helps that they used good pork to begin with. It had a nice char and smoky flavor to it, naturally. The dish had a festive flavor to it that sort of reminded me of Christmas. So, yay, whenever I want to feel like it’s Christmas, I can just go to TĀZA.
Ribeye Steak (1.2kg)
They used Wagyu from Bukidnon and served it with (from left to right) pink Himalayan sea salt, au poivre sauce, Chimichurri sauce, and Bearnaise sauce, as well as your choice of two sides. It’s really good with the salt because the meat’s flavor is highlighted. Pairing it with au poivre sauce is also great, as its natural juices complement and enhance the taste of the beef. Meanwhile, the Bearnaise is creamy and a little citrusy, and gives the steak a delicious twist. The Chimichurri has an interesting kick of herby flavor that kept the meat the star.
We had sweet cauliflower mash (P200 for a separate order) with it. You can taste the freshness of cauliflower while you enjoy how creamy it is. We also had a side of baby potatoes and sweet baby carrots, and you know it’s real baby carrots because the leaves are still there, unlike other restos that just cut regular carrots into tinier baby carrot shapes.
Moroccan Chicken, P995
Braised organic probiotic chicken with spices is placed in a Tajine dish and served with couscous. The menu says it serves two, but I daresay it can serve four or more. The first thing I noticed about this dish when the waiter lifted the cover is how aromatic it is, thanks to the mix of spices. The best part? You TASTE all these spices at first bite! It’s savory and acidic, in part because of the fresh tomatoes used in the sauce, with the meat delightfully tender and not dry. Rounding it up with the soft couscous, and you get a play on texture with each bite.
Wagyu Burger, P550
They used ground Bukidnon Wagyu for the patty and piled it with Tagaytay romaine lettuce and mozzarella cheese in a sweet bun they freshly made themselves, served with potato wedges (P200 for a separate order) and coleslaw. At the risk of being redundant, this burger patty is really beefy—lasang-lasa mo talaga ang beef! It’s juicy, too—the kind of burger you’ll thank heavens exist on days when you really, really crave a good burger. Meanwhile, the flavorful and savory potato wedges are cooked in olive oil, which you can really taste.
Bukidnon is ranch country, sought for its livestock and cattle products. Over the years, local producers have successfully raised Wagyu cattle from the hinterlands of Mt. Kitanglad. Bukidnon Wagyu meat is as tender and intensely marbled as its original Japanese counterpart.
Tomahawk Pork Chop, P650
This huge hunk of meat in pork jus is topped with caramelized onions and has a side of bananas (or baklang saba as they call it, because it’s a cross between lakatan and saba, and it’s sweet and soft). It has a slightly sweet flavor, which went well with the perfectly tender, flavorful meat with a nice char right on its fatty part. The thick meat is cooked medium well yet remained juicy, not dry. I imagine this is what a Texan steak is supposed to taste like. You can enjoy it even without the sauce (see the four sauces served with the Ribeye)—it may even be better sans sauce because then you can truly enjoy the taste of the beef.
We tried all their desserts since we couldn’t decide which one to get! Here’s my review of each:
Olive Oil Ice Cream, P215
This tastes as light as what you would expect of ice cream made of olive oil, with a sweetness to it besides the glazed Tagaytay pineapple it’s topped with.
Vanilla Bean Custard Cake, P225
The chiffon cake underneath is soft, fluffy, and lightly sweet, topped with caramelized sugar frosting and rich, sticky, thick, and smooth vanilla bean custard. This cake comes with candied kumquat slices and pink peppercorn.
Molten Chocolate Cake, P225
Made of Alfonso tablea chocolate and Pato queso de bola ice cream, which had a light flavor, this cake is super rich and delectable, but surprisingly not too sweet! You need to get to the molten chocolate core to taste the sweeter and more sinful part of the cake.
The town of Alfonso in Cavite is one of the primary producers of tsokolate in the country, owing to the abundant cacao trees on its mountainside. Alfonso has become known for the quality of its tablea (cacao tablets), which the restaurant used in this dessert.
Cannoli with Ube Ricotta and Langka Cream, P275
The crunchy Cannoli is imported, but they filled it with locally sourced ingredients like ube and langka. The ube is rich, thick, creamy, and delectable, while the langka is sweet. You really get the genuine flavors of the fillings on this one!
I washed down all these dishes with House Iced Tea, which is freshly brewed and sweetened, and definitely refreshing.
TAZA Fresh Table is open for lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, and just lunch on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday (it’s closed on Tuesday). It’s located at Taal Vista Hotel along Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, 4120 Philippines. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 (2) 917-8225, +63 (46) 413-100, or +63 0917 809-1254. To book your stay at the hotel via Agoda, click here.
Photos by Trixie Reyna