Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lab-as Restaurant Lunch

Okay, flight was delayed so it was impractical for me to still proceed to Siquijor. Thus, I opted to just roam the city for the day until midnight.

Good that I chatted with my airplane seatmate as he is from Dumaguete though working and living in Makati. He gave me some tips and pointers on what to see and how – which all proved very useful. He even gave me a lift to Harold’s Mansion from the airport since his dad and sister were there to fetch him! Thanks Stephen!

Check-in at Harold’s was a bit messy (literally and figuratively) but I finally settled in with a bigger room. Hey, got a length of notes re this place but only if Harold or any staff will ask for them hehe. That was some additional precious time that I had to waste but I went on to just take a bath and hurriedly look for lunch. I asked the staff where might be a good place to have lunch. Her initial response was at their coffee shop! I boldly told her “yun place naman na medyo malalasap ko ang pride ng Dumaguete”. I was not being rude, but I did not want to spend my first lunch in Dumaguete at a coffee shop with just 3 tables and the most prominent fixture is a styro box of “Buko Juice with Milk”! No offense meant to Harold and staff, okay?! So, the girl (yes literally, a little girl hehe) told me that Lab-as Restaurant at Hayahay was good. Since I have heard of it, and it was on my dinner list, and the girl mentioned it, I went for Hayahay to grab lunch.

I took a tricycle from Harold’s Mansion to Hayahay. At first, I seemed to be displeased at the road we were taking. It was not anywhere near beautiful (this is that street at the back of Harold’s). Just a normal residential backstreet really! But when the tricycle turned left, my heart jumped a bit. We were cruising on a nice paved road at the very edge of the sea. Wow! In my mind I hoped that Lab-as or Hayahay would be by this road with a beautiful mid-day ambience.

Lo and behold… the tricycle stopped and I found that Hayahay was/is still on this road with a perfect sea-view. My first reaction: “oh my goodness this is a beautiful place”! Enchanting in fact!

On entry to the Lab-as Restaurant, I was happy to note that the husband-and-wife who were having lunch at the open-air area were my co-passengers on that delayed flight. Nobody else was eating in the many outside tables. When I peeked inside the air-conditioned dining area, only about two or three tables were vacant. Hmm, most of the diners I saw in there were something like a group of politicians or political family and other groups of office folks about to end their Saturday work. So I thought this place must be at least good!

Looking at the parked cars just in front of the table I chose, I came to conclude that some of the diners were (like me) not from this place. I saw license plates that am sure are only issued in Metro Manila. Then again, some folks buy their cars in Manila and drive them all the way to the provinces. But this was proof enough that I was in a specialy place frequented by visitors and office folks! Anyway…

I looked for someone to help me get to choosing my lunch fare as I was about starving. The only “not busy” lady I saw was the uniformed crew inside what seemed to be a cashier’s counter just outside the door to the air-conditioned area. I borrowed the menu book and walked with it to my chosen table. She followed me. Browsed at all those delectable entries on the menu and I was already salivating. The lady was not in a conversation mood – perhaps because I dragged her out of that counter (though I never actually did, she just followed me). She was not helpful at all. When I asked what their best-seller was, the answer was “ikaw bahala sir”. So I told her “sige iwanan mo muna ako while I read on the menu to choose what I like".

Soon as she moved away walking back to her counter I saw a plumper but cheerful little lady who was busy delivering fruit shakes. I waved at her and she was in front of me pronto then very enthusiastically said “good noon sir” (take note, “good noon” – she was that precise hehe) “welcome to Hayahay, welcome to Dumaguete, welcome to the Philippines”! And it was promptly followed by a giggle. Gosh! This lady must truly love her work!

I asked her the same question on what would be their best-seller. Then she promptly pointed me to the page that said “LAB-AS SPECIALTIES”. The ‘Dumaguete Express’ caught my fancy as it was described as a concoction of various seafoods, young coconut and ‘lechon kawali’. I wondered what it was, got curious and so ordered for one along with a cup of rice and a bottle of coke. When I asked about the serving size she said “sir, its good for two to… one” then she giggled. I laughed and said “two to three”! I was sure she said “two to… one” when she found out that I was alone. But she topped the conversation by assuring me that I should be able to finish the whole serving since it really tasted good and… “malaki ka naman sir hi hi hi”! Then she went off to process my order. Nice lady!

Went around the place as I waited for my food. Noted that at almost 1PM people were still trickling in. A group even almost took my still empty table. Good that I left my cigarette pack on it and I was just nearby taking a shot of some flower from a vine.

Oh now I realized, Hayahay is actually a conglomeration of purportedly separate businesses but owned and managed by a singular entity. So the restaurant is Lab-as, beside it is Orientwind Travel & Tours, next is Hayahay Tiangge, then the bar and restaurant that sizzles at night (more of that later).

My lunch came after I have downed the bottle of coke (no worries, its only 8 ounces) so I ordered for another bottle hehe! True to what the lady said, it was delicious with that nice sauce made of coconut milk. Had to get another cup of rice and “almost” finished the entire tray of Dumaguete Express. I say “almost” since I picked every fish, squid, shrimp, octopus, etc., and all the lechon kawali except that I cannot anymore take all of the young coconut meat as there were just too many. I felt I was already bloating hehe! One prime lunch!

You know the ending (am sure)… I caught myself just slumped on my chair looking out into the clear blue sea, blue skies with a touch of white clouds. I was daydreaming! Even almost slapped myself to tell me that I still had a lot of roaming to do with a limited time! So I went off with a personal commitment to be back in this place. Why wouldn’t I? I already saw the schedule of their nightly Jam Sessions!

For a chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:

01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18
19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35


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