Visiting my humble home town Albay this summer of 2017 is not all about exploring new places but we will indulge in fine cuisine. For our fourth night, we want to satisfy our cravings for ramen. After visiting Sumlang Lake and Lignon Hills, we set off to Ishi Aya’s Garden Bistro in Tabaco City, a Japanese-Filipino infused restaurant owned by former sexy actress turned entrepreneur Aya Medel. It serves Japanese food and local favorites.
We were lucky because as of our visit, she was visible in the restaurant as hands-on manager and owner. IshiAya’s, by the way, was a combination of Aya herself and her daughter Ishi.
It’s not easy to find the restaurant as it wasn’t located in the town center and their signage was small. We were thankful to pedicab drivers who called the resto “ay kay Aya Medel” for giving us the right direction in getting there. As we approached the parking area, a staff assisted us right away.
The view outside the restaurant wasn’t that appealing. But as we passed the entrance with bahay kubo style, we were warmly greeted by an outdoor garden seating with fine Japanese interiors. The vacant area where low dining tables and several throw pillows were neatly placed beckoned everyone’s fancy. To our delight, we hurried off and sat comfortably on the wooden floor. There were several aquariums near us with big white arwana.
The girl server wearing the Japanese kimono approached us. She didn’t greet us the Japanese way. She only smiled to us and handed the menu which consisted mainly of Japanese dish. Excitedly, we browsed the flavors of ramen and here is what we ordered.
2 Chef Aya’s Ramen – P420 – their specialty, 1 Shoyu Ramen – P205, 1 Spicy Ramen – P205, 1 Tantanmen Ramen – P205 and Kikiage Tempura – P150 (drinks-house water) for a total of P1,185 only. Affordable right?
While waiting for our food to be served we were given a pitcher of hot tea. After I had my fill, I started to stroll around. At the heart of the restaurant is the big signage of IshiAya’s Garden Bistro where a small garden with fish pond and two bicycles with a basket of flowers were found. What was so attractive to see in the open area was the well-lighted glass panel with falling water which I failed to take a nice shot.
The air-conditioned area had fascinated murals of Albay’s famous tourist spots like Mayon Volcano, Cagsawa Ruins and Albay Gulf which were painted by the famous Binaday Brothers of Malilipot, Albay. Other paintings were Japanese girl wearing kimono and sceneries.
There were the yakimiko tables with chairs and hot pot (P850). It was tempting to try this but our cravings were for ramen. Maybe we will try on our next visit.
They have beautiful chandeliers which makes the restaurant much alive. With warm lighting and mellow sound, it was so relaxing to stay inside and dine.
When I went back to the table our food was being served. We were all like a child tasting each other’s food. Well, it was good as expected. I like munching the tasty
Shoyu Ramen more than their special Chef Aya’s Ramen. But all of them favored the taste of the latter. Kikiage Tempura was also good. I was about to order sushi but our tummies were already filled to the brim. One ramen was so heavy for everyone’s delight. The price was worth it.
We were lucky to see Aya Medel in person. She was still pretty and was kind enough to mingle with us for few minutes. We were able to have a snapshot with the former actress. It was a wise decision that she took up a culinary course and ended up as a chef. Showbiz career was a short-lived profession so she decided to put up a restaurant business in her hometown which is now famous and frequented by tourists.
The whole place was peaceful. We had a great dining experience. The tasty ramen capped off the night. I commend the servers for being approachable and for serving fast. The combination of Filipino hospitality and tasty Japanese food will invite you to go back and try their other menu.
By the way, they also have a lineup of fresh fruit smoothies, beer, red and white wine. The restaurant is few distances away from St. John the Baptist Church and City Hall.
Business Hours: Monday to Sunday – 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM / 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM
- Location: Villaruel Street, Tayhi, Tabaco City
- Contact Numbers: (052) 203-0071 / 09164667049
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