Though its dishes may sound unfamiliar and even hard to pronounce, Vietnamese cuisine utilizes the same ingredients that are native to Vietnam and Philippines. In Manila, the closest you can get to authentic Vietnamese is Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen.
This has been Tagaytay’s best-kept Vietnamese secret ever since it opened in 2007. The first branch is actually the residence of spouses Virgilio Tatlonghari and My Duyen, or more popularly known as Bawai Dung. Yes, the restaurant is named after her, “Bawai”, Vietnamese for grandmother.
The place was originally intended to be a retirement home for the couple, and there, Bawai would cook for their family and friends who became their regular visitors. Eventually, she went back to her native Vietnam and got formal culinary education, as they realized there was clamor for more Vietnamese home-cooked food. Soon, they opened their home and that was the start of something big.
“Yung aming mga guests, hindi namin itinuturing customer. Tinuturi naming kaibigan o pamilya na pumupunta sa amin para kumain, (We don’t treat our guests as just customers, we treat them like family members who would visit and dine with us.)” shared Virgilio. He mentioned that they only had around 36 seating capacity in their dining space which is now open four days a week. “We always recommend to have reservations. Vietnamese food preparation is very tedious.”
From a mere makeshift restaurant, Bawai’s has expanded to Metro Manila, with its latest location in trendy BGC
The food in the restaurant is actually the same food that they would cook at home. They didn’t alter it to fit the local palate, and Bawai's sources about 80 percent of its ingredients directly from Vietnam, so it’s the closest you could get to authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
There are plenty of entrée options to choose from—ca kho to (caramelized salmon with spices), bo kho (twelve-spice slow-cooked beef stew), and curry ga (chicken curry with coconut milk), among others.
If you still haven’t tried Vietnamese, below are gateway dishes that will turn you into a fan.
Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen is located at Retail 15, G/F, Uptown Parade, 9th Avenue Cor 36th Street, Uptown Bonifacio, Taguig City; Tel: +632 8122924 , +63917 1522924. 10am-10pm.
— LA, GMA News