Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quezon's Specialties at Kamayan sa Palaisdaan in Tayabas

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan has been an institution in the Quezon food scene for almost twenty years. 
For someone who by virtue of affinity has roots in that province,  I am rather embarrassed to say
that I had never eaten there -- at least until last week.  

It was quite a surprise to walk in and see the restaurant's distinctive attractions --  dozens of native bamboo huts floating on top of an expansive  fish pond.   The water was green and a bit murky but there was no unpleasant  smell at all.   There are numerous trees and shrubbery which help bring in a few breezes, most welcome on this very warm day.

There are more than fifty huts laid out all over the property,  each with a long table and benches that can accommodate up to twelve diners.   Because it was a weekday,  there were lots of unoccupied huts but I was told that people have had to wait for almost an hour  during peak times on week-ends.

While you will see a few tilapia and some koi swimming in the pond,  those meant for the table are segregated off to one side, ready to be scooped and cooked and served.

Here is Jay and our friend Ross (also from Lucena) waiting for lunch in our bamboo kubo (hut).  For a place that is so popular and has been around for so long,  I was impressed that the huts were well maintained and kept very clean.  

Lunchtime!  Even on a slow week-day, it took a while for the food to be served.
I like to think that's because everything is cooked to order and nothing is heated and re-heated
in the microwave.
We all wanted to eat very local and traditional Tayabasin dishes so for starters,
we ordered a salad of pako or fiddlehead ferns with itlog na maalat or salted duck eggs, onions and tomatoes.  The salad was refreshing and went well with a cold bottle of San Mig light.  

Palaisdaan's specialty is fish and sea food -- we definitely wanted  the tilapia,  swimming
placidly all around us.  How much more fresh could our meal be?
The tilapia would be caught, cleaned, cooked and served to us within minutes.
Ross ordered a typical Quezon dish -- sinugno.  This is tilapia cooked in gata or fresh coconut cream with mustasa or mustard leaves.  A very tasty and creamy dish,  the coconut cream sauce was perfect, spooned over plain hot rice.
The sharp, slightly bitter bite of the mustasa leaves kept the dish from being too rich.  
I think the mustasa must be grown somewhere on the property because they tasted like they had just been picked a few minutes ago.

In Quezon where the key agricultural product is coconut, one staple ingredient is gata or
fresh coconut cream.  For someone who comes from Quezon, Jay strangely is not too fond of gata and thus opted for a more simple dish.
Pinaputok na tilapia  is tilapia that is slit, stuffed with onions and tomatoes, wrapped in banana leaves and charcoal grilled.  It's a simple way to enjoy the pure sweet freshness of the fish.

All these healthy dishes make for an unbalanced meal so porkintheroad had to bring in some of the good pig stuff.  I ordered inihaw or grilled pork chops which must have been marinated in some form of barbecue sauce, hence the faint reddish tinge.   While I would have preferred a more simple marinade or rub of just garlic and salt, the chops were tender and well cooked.

The food lived up to my expectations -- but it was this local delicacy that just blew me away.
This smiling young vendor is not an employee of the restaurant but he gets to peddle his bilao (basket) of native kakanin (rice cakes).  Regulars at Palaisdaan wait for him to come around their huts with his signature kakanin -- pilipit made with kalabasa and malagkit.

Pilipit is normally made with malagkit na bigas or glutinous rice.  This version of  pilipit incorporated grated kalabasa or squash which gave it a yellow-orange tint and more importantly, made it even more maligat (chewy) and oh so very delicious.
While it usually comes in a twisted shape (hence the name pilipit),  this variety sold at Palaisdaan looks like a compact doughnut, complete with the hole.
After frying, the pilipit is liberally dipped in what tastes like a coconut based caramel sauce.  Think of coconut jam and molasses getting married and you have an idea of just how ambrosial this topping is.  

Thank you Ross for suggesting Kamayan sa Palaisdaan for our lunch date.  I enjoyed the
typical Quezon dishes in the middle of a  charming, bucolic setting.  And I specially relished the unique and scrumptious pilipit!
I made sure to buy a dozen of these addictive little snacks to bring back to Jay's home in
Lucena.  We enjoyed it again for dessert that evening.

Full disclosure -- I skipped dinner but had three pieces of pilipit!

NB There are two Palaisdaan Restaurants along the road between Tayabas and Lucban.  Kamayan sa Palaisdaan is on the left side if you are coming from Lucena.  

No comments:

Post a Comment