Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen, White Plains

Early this year, I opened my travel journal again. Not known to many, I keep a notebook/scrapbook that documents all trips since Paul and I got married three years ago. It had photos, quotes, theme park tickets, boarding passes and a lot more. However, we got extremely busy and I now have a heavy box that goes with my journal filled with photos, receipts, tickets that have yet to be placed in this journal.

What more now that I've relocated to another country?! 

I think I need a whole new scrapbook as everything might not fit in my old journal anymore. Anyway, at the last page of my journal, I have a list. This list is something that I love referring back to once in a while. My goal is to visit at least one country per continent in my lifetime. So far I've covered two thus I have 5 more to go. Knowing that I won't be able to travel far this year, I went through the list to see which are the "doable" destinations.

Vietnam. The land of pho and banh mi! Located north of Singapore, Vietnam is just a quick 2 hour and 50 minute hour flight away from the Lion City. I love how clean and light Vietnamese food is which is pretty much my main motivation for wanting to visit the country. 

A couple of years back, my family was able to dine at Bawai's in Tagaytay where we were able to experience authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Since then, Bawai's has been our go-to place whenever my parents just wants a light and delicious meal. I got to admit though that with the crazy traffic in Manila, travelling to Tagaytay can sometimes turn into a long road ordeal. We just hate having to sit in the car for two hours before we can finally breathe the cool air of Tagaytay. 

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Imagine my glee when I found out that Bawai's has opened a new branch in White Plains -- a very accessible area right at the heart of Metro Manila! 

Thus, during my recent visit home, my family wasted no time and scheduled a day to check Bawai's out. Driving along White Plains, it won't be hard to spot Bawai's as you'll see the green vertical signage at the right side of the road. Bawai's is located in the same commercial complex as Flaming Wings and Crave Burger. The only challenge is trying to find a good parking spot especially during the evening and on weekends. 

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We're lucky to be able to secure a good spot and we quickly began our walk in search of Bawai's. At the far end of the complex, we saw a pretty house with green roof which we later found out was the former home of a popular veteran actress. The family who runs the White Plains branch of Bawai's rented the place from her. 

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Lunch began with the mandatory Goi Cuon (Php. 255) otherwise known as Fresh Spring Rolls. I will always love Bawai's version as it's so packed with a piece of plump shrimp, caramelized pork, vermicelli noodles and served with their signature peanut sauce. The flavor was so fresh and as expected, very clean on the palate. My only concern is the wrapper, which I find too hard and stretchy. Otherwise, it was a yummy starter. 

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We also tried the Bawai's Salad (Php. 335) which was surprisingly good. I was initially hesitant to try this as I'm not a fan of coconut sprouts but since my family was game enough to try something new, we went for this thinking that it must be the best as it bears the restaurant's name. It was good. If you like Lumpia Ubod like my Mommy then you'll adore this. The coconut sprouts was quite refreshing and what I like was the tangy vinaigrette dressing that complemented the sweetness of the coconut. It also had strips of pork and shrimps too. What I love about Bawai's is that they continue to source their vegetables fresh from Tagaytay while some of the herbs are from their own garden in front of the restaurant. 


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There were just so many starters that we can't help but order one more. This time, we went for the Banh Xeo (Php. 375) which is a seasonal dish. Not really sure why as it's a crispy egg crepe filled with beansprouts, shrimps, pork and onions. It was a simple dish but a flavorful one too. This, however, paled in comparison to the other dishes that we ordered that day. 

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Moving on to the main entrees, I had high expectations for the Com Suon Cha (Php. 420) which is the much talked about double grilled pork belly flavored with caramelized lemongrass marinade. Somehow, we all found it to be too tough and dry. Not really our favorite that day and I don't think we'll order this again next time. 

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The Curry Ga (Php. 390), however, was a surprising treat! I just got a chicken dish to create balance to our meal and randomly chose the curry thinking it's a pretty safe choice. We were surprised at how delicious and creamy the sauce was which went so well with the tender chicken pieces. They also have a big cut for each piece. This dish will make you want more rice, I can assure you of that. 

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As they say, we save the BEST for the last. That surely was the case during our meal at Bawai's as the last dish to come out was the Tom Rang Me (Php. 575). Black Tiger prawns cooked with sweet tamarind paste and served with onions and sesame seeds. This got everyone's approval as we never thought tamarind would go well with prawns. We enjoyed every bit of it and made sure that no sauce was wasted too. I have a feeling this will be a regular mainstay in our succeeding family meals at Bawai's from now on. 

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Of course, the best way to end our Vietnamese lunch is to have a cup of Vietnamese Coffee. Papa had the Ca Phe Sua Nong (Php. 95) which is the regular drip coffee while I wanted to beat the holiday heat (!) with a glass of Ca Phe Sua Da (Php. 120) or cold drip coffee. 

The entire restaurant was packed with families enjoying their Sunday lunch the same way we were. We just noticed that the acoustics of the restaurant was not so good that at some point, we were having trouble hearing each other as practically everyone was talking all at once. Wish they'd find a solution of this soon. 

Nonetheless, we're so happy that we don't have to travel far now to enjoy Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen

Visit Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen at 79 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City. Call them at 885-1445 / 442-8874. 

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