Only seeing each other on weekends, Nice and I decided not to share my birthday with anyone else but us. And of course, because our upstairs bathroom decided to ensure we couldn’t do anything else the whole day (to be written in a short while… or maybe not).
Nice made reservations at Cafe Ysabel, a quaint restaurant inside San Juan. He said that he had always wanted to try this place but has never had the chance to. When asked how he found out about the place, he explains that it was near where he worked for his first job. I then teased him if I was the girl he had first wanted to bring here.
As soon as Nice told me where we were going, I immediately googled the place. I was both impressed and happily surprised that 1) it’s the restaurant for Center of Asian Culinary Studies, 2) it was visited by No Reservations’ Anthony Bourdain, and 3) it’s housed in a 1927 ancestral home. Definitely everything interesting!
The house was definitely beautiful. The outside of the house had a park feel to it — I especially loved the porch, the stairs and the Koi Pond. The interior was intricately designed with a lot of period pieces and murals lined all the walls and ceilings. The dim lighting helped create a very romantic ambiance inside the restaurant (which kinda made me sleepy).
They served complimentary focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Since I’m more of a bread than a rice person, this was an extremely welcomed treat. There were 2 pieces of bread, supposedly 1 for Nice and 1 for me — but I consumed mine and half of Nice’s portion.
Nice and I were trying to pretend to be healthy so we ordered Asparagus and Tagaytay Green Salad to start. We didn’t care too much for the salad as we found the asparagus a bit to heavy for salads and after the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, another oil based course was a bit too much.
For mains, we ordered the Norwegian Salmon Steak and the Paella Sulipeña to share. My love of Paella has rubbed off to him (like most of everything I like!). The mains were both absolutely amazing! Perfectly cooked salmon and extremely tasty paella. Unfortunately, Nice and I ruined our appetites by eating nachos and burrito from a Greenhills stall. We ended up taking home 3/4 of the Paella (which didn’t go to waste, we had a lovely breakfast the next day!).
All my friends know that I’m a big desert fan. Now, I’m not sure if I just was too full from eating fast food mexican but I didn’t find any dessert that appetizing. But on a different day, I would have probably gorged on their Peter Pan Pie — chocolate ice cream, butterscotch and Belgian chocolate in a cookie crust.
Cafe Ysabel is no doubt one of Manila’s best restaurants and definitely fit for a date night. For some reason it didn’t fit my mood that night, the dim light ambiance made me a bit sleepy and the ancestral feel to the house made me feel stiff like I was transported to strict grandmom’s house where you were told not to be playful lest you break anything. LOL.
That wouldn’t stop me from going back though and next time, I wouldn’t eat cheap fast food before going.
Restaurant: Cafe Ysabel
Where: 455 P. Guevarra Street, San Juan Metro Manil
Food Tried: Asparagus and Tagaytay Green Salad, Norwegian Salmon Steak, Paella Sulipeña
Cost: About P1400