I’ve been meaning to write a post about this unassuming little restaurant but paper works and some orders got the better of me. This is most definitely a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and may even be one of Cebu’s Best Kept Secret for authentic Southeast Asian Cuisine. Honestly, I wanted to take good pictures but every time I go there, I just dig in right away. The food is that good!
After we moved in to our new house, the husband and I were checking out some new places to dine in the area. Hubby would point to this sign that we see and I only remember Spice. It is situated on the second floor of a two-storey building right next to Jollibee. The sign isn’t really noticeable or flashy. For many months, I would have many excuses not to go there, just telling my husband “You know I don’t like spicy food.” To be perfectly honest, I thought this was a place that served ordinary like cafeteria food. I was very very wrong!
One fine day, I finally said Yes to my husband and we went to this place last January. The restaurant is called The Oriental Spice Gourmet situated on the second floor of a building beside Jolibee in Basak, Lapu Lapu City. If you are from Cebu City going to Marigondon, this is the building right after Jollibee on your right. On the first floor is CSV laundry. I suggest that when you’re near MEPZ II, slow down as you approach that area and you will find Jolibee. You may want to park at Jolibee as their small parking area gets full most days. That’s what we do (or you could probably buy something there). Walk to the building next to it and you will see their sign on the second floor.
As soon as you enter, you are greeted not by impressive interior design but this really impressive and very clean open kitchen as seen in the picture above. You will be surprised that this small, modest-looking restaurant has an open kitchen so clean, you will be quick to realize that there’s something different about this place. When I see an open kitchen, which by the way only a few restaurants in Cebu are confident to do that, I know I am in for a surprise.
A Filipino-Chinese woman will take your order but is very quick in recommending their best dishes. It didn’t take long for us to learn that she runs the place together with husband and chef of the restaurant. Cyril and Mary Ann, run a tight ship, personally attending to a steady stream of loyal customers. I was surprised to find mostly expats top executives from international companies from nearby MEPZ II who are regulars at this restaurant. Chef and owner Cyril is a British national of Malay descent who cooked in UK for many years. I saw him behind the kitchen cooking with a wok, seems very quiet and you can tell he was a real Chef with how he worked in his kitchen. I had observed how meticulous he was, cleaning up after every dish was done.
After taking our orders, in a few minutes even before I browsed the newspaper and was given our drink, the first dish was served.
I ordered their fresh Coconut Juice as recommended by the owner. This is P50.00 and is very refreshing. In fact, it was a perfect pair for the dishes we had.
The first dish came in less than five minutes. I kid you not. It was a delight to see the chef cooking literally in a few minutes. This is Spicy Beef and it’s the dish that has converted me. Spicy Beef is a famous Malaysian slow-cooked spices-infused Beef Rendang. Let me reiterate that I do not fancy spicy food. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’ve never been a fan. However, this unassuming restaurant has changed my taste buds and helped me acquire the taste of authentic, honest-to-goodness spicy gourmet food. They have a sign near the fridge that caught my attention. Roti Paratha! I love Roti and ordered one and dipped it in the Spicy Beef sauce. My mouth was singing! This is a must-try at only P50.00.
Even if you won’t order the Spicy Beef, order the Roti and they will give you a dipping sauce which I think is from the Spicy Beef.
The other dishes came really fast. This is their famous Nasi Goreng. This dish will be your excuse to keep going to this restaurant. It’s a spicy fried rice with chicken, eggs, red onions, Chinese leaves and crispy anchovies. This is a perfect example of simple ingredients coming together to give you a dish that is distinctly flavorful.
The last dish was Sambal Chicken, the husband’s favorite. It’s Chicken in spicy chili paste, with tomatoes, pineapple, coconut milk, red and spring onions. The coconut milk gives the creaminess that is complimented by a hint of sweetness from the pineapple.
Just three dishes but the layers of spicy flavor bursting in my mouth seemed like a defining moment for my taste buds (I am humbled and admit that I’ve been ignorant about the secret heavenly taste that is spicy food!). For somebody who is not fond of spicy food, this place has definitely converted me.
The Chef owner Cyril when asked about his food, was quick to respond “my restaurant is a place where the flavors of Southeast Asia come together”. Both Chef and wife shared that they use only the best ingredients which they personally buy abroad. Chef Cyril showed me one of his secret ingredients the Sambal which he makes from scratch. It is a chili paste made from dried chili that he buys abroad. Incidentally, both are going on a trip tomorrow to buy more ingredients and some much-deserved R and R.
It’s been my secret hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Cebu and I guess it’s about time I share it. It’s really awesome to dine in a restaurant and not pay ridiculously on ambience or garnish or plating. Sure, every once in a while it’s great to indulge the senses. I’m no Chef but I can cook so why pay P400 for an ordinary pasta dish when I can make good Penne Campagnola at home (wnk * wink). Instead, I want to enjoy a resonably-priced, straight forward authentic Southeast Asian cuisine. Did I mention that all their dishes are P150.00 only? Yes, it’s that reasonable!
I told you I know Cebu’s Best Kept secrets (curtsey * curtsey).
p.s. when you do find this place, tell Mary Ann you read it from my blog or just say Marryl and she will most definitely take good care of you.
The Oriental Spice Gourmet is at Basak, Lapu Lapu City. You may call them at 238-4544 or 406-0814. One downside though, they’re only open from Mondays to Fridays. Starting tomorrow til the 14th, they will be closed for some well-deserved vacation abroad. So check them out on the 15th of April 2013 or just call.