Breakfast at Cafe Ysabel in San Juan

Growing up in San Juan, I've seen how it has slowly transformed from a quiet municipality into a fun and vibrant city. Back then, the only commercial area was Greenhills Shopping Center which continues to be our go-to place to do our grocery, to eat good food and to do some bargain shopping. There were other restaurants and commercial spaces around the area but you can basically count them with your fingers as they weren't a lot.

Cafe Ysabel is one of those that has been around for as long as I remember. However, I haven't really gotten around to dining there as I always thought it looked a bit creepy especially at night. Once, Paul took me to Cafe Ysabel for dessert, as their Strawberry Shortcake is to die for, and I really couldn't get myself to go to the loo thus I just forced him to quickly finish our dessert and to take me home pronto. It must be the vintage-feel as well as the dark lighting that reminds me so much of those horror Filipino movies that my yaya would watch back in the 80s. Sadly, being a scaredy cat has hindered me from dining at Cafe Ysabel...but that has changed last week.

You see, for almost a year, Pan and Mommy have been raving about the breakfast fare at Cafe Ysabel. They love it so much that they would have breakfast here almost every weekend after working out at the gym. Since I would rather bond with my bed then, I would always miss out on these breakfast dates with my mom and sister. Little did I know that I have been missing out not only on the potential bonding session but on what could be the yummiest breakfast fare in this side of town.

During my recent visit home, I made sure not to miss out anymore. One morning, we decided to have breakfast at Cafe Ysabel. We got there a little past 9am on a weekday and the restaurant was busy with groups of mommies and daddies having their morning coffee. We were led towards our nice table for three by the window which gave us good lighting and a nice view of the relatively quiet P. Guevarra street.

cafe ysabel 1
Mommy has been raving about the Tortang Talong Sarsiado with Chicken Rice. I initially find it quite odd that they'd pair it with chicken rice (the same one we'd have with Hainanese Chicken here in Singapore). Won't this go well with garlic rice instead? Well, let's just trust the chef shall we? The Tortang Talong Sarsiado is a simple but very flavorful dish. I was quite surprise at how they can make eggplant so yummy that even picky veggie eaters like myself ended up enjoying a good slice that morning. The chicken rice was fragrant and spot on but once again, I think I'd prefer to have this very Pinoy dish with a cup of garlic rice.

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My sister was feeling extra hungry that morning so she went for the Ivy League Breakfast. This is a complete set consisting of Potato Casserole and Bacon, her choice of Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Spinach, Fried Apple Slices and a cup of coffee. Oohlala! Isn't it so annoying that she can eat like there's no tomorrow and still stay so slim? Why oh why wasn't THAT part of my DNA? Well, I was able to try half of her Smoked Salmon Benedict and think it was just a-ok. Nothing fantastic but it wasn't horrible either. I feel Cafe Ysabel's forte still lies on local Filipino food.

cafe ysabel 3
Lastly, my choice. I went for the Fried Tinapa Rice with Egg Topping. I was able to try this before when Mommy and Pan brought an order home for me and liked it. I love anything with tinapa (dried fish) more so now that I rarely get to have it. This is really such a comfort dish. I'm happy that they were very generous with the tinapa and the serving wasn't too much that it can easily be consumed by one.

I can't believe it took me almost three decades before I finally got to try Cafe Ysabel. I'm still scared of going to the loo but rest assured, I'll be back for more breakfast bonding sessions in the future.

Cafe Ysabel is located at 455 P. Guevarra street, San Juan City. Call them at 726-9326. 

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