It was a rainy afternoon and I was quite famished . I just finished shooting La Florentina, the 1950’s late art deco Bacabac-Babar heritage house in Ajuy, Iloilo for an architecture and design magazine. At just a little past 2 PM, we still haven’t had lunch and it was raining as a typhoon was brewing south of the Visayas. But the restaurant was just beside the house and there wasn’t much waiting time that after arriving at the reserved table food was served in no time.
Ajuy town is not as popular as, say Miag-ao or San Joaquin. To many travelers, its just another municipality along the way to Estancia, jump off point to the beautiful Isla de Gigantes. Just lately, social media was abuzz with the road widening of the central highway that endangered the said heritage house. Fortunately, online action has galvanized people to act and, for now, it has been spared.
La Jardin is owned by the family of Dulce Blas who owns Terra Verde Farms and an inn. It is this sizable tract of land where much of the food served in this restaurant comes from. In no time, a steaming bowl of chicken binakol was placed. Then a pile of lumpia (spring rolls), and many more.
The chicken binakol is a popular dish in Panay. Especially in Kalibo, it is cooked inside bamboo tubes. I tasted the soup, it was hot and enough to warm the belly, also perfect for a wet afternoon. But what I did notice about it was the semisweet, gingery taste that was wonderful. Our host, Dulce, told us that since there were lots of coconuts in the farm, they’ve incorporated coconut water as well as buko, young coconut meat that is tender and sweetish.
It’s also a must that native chicken should be used, she added. It just has a good and delicious taste compared to feed fed chicken. In between stories and eating, I was having a good time savoring such a delicacy. I was particularly amazed at the great tasting soup, the tender chicken and the way the buko made an interesting texture. I never thought that it can be cooked this way!
Lamayong on the other hand was particularly salty which was not just for me, and which the host admitted that it is a bit. This dish is hours old dried fish. It looks like the typical daing na bangus (marinated butterflied milk fish) and is similar to bangsi, flying fish which is dried for just a few hours too in Maitum in Sarangani.
Another dish that I really loved, and, sorry, but I consumed, probably five (or more) of this one: lumpia (spring rolls). I just love the crunch, the fresh vegetables inside and dipped in sinamak, spiced vinegar, it was just pure joy!
And of course, dessert. For this, we had a slice each of the popular La Jardin cassava cake which they sell by the box, including the buko pie. It was delicious. Soft and not very sweet, just enough. The addition of buko comes as another surprise that makes the dessert memorable. Now, if only I had the courage to ask for another slice.
La Jardin is just infront of Ajuy Elementary School and is just located along the main road. Their cassava cake and buko pie is popular with travelers and the restaurant is a stopover for these delicacies as well as for meals.
Real St. Poblacion
+63 917 7233324