Craving for some shrimpcharon, we headed off to Josephine Restaurant in Tagaytay for some great food and great view.
For as long as I can remember, whenever we would find ourselves in Tagaytay, more often than not, our go-to place for some good old Filipino cuisine was Josephine's. A big restaurant on top of a hill overlooking Taal Lake, it was famous for being a venue for large gatherings and celebrations like debuts and weddings.
I recall, after ordering, we would take a walk outside and appreciate the view of Taal Volcano while the cool breeze ruffles our hair. It has a been a couple of years, give or take, so we decided to go on a road trip, just to seek out Josephine's delectable menu.
Now they even have a cake and coffee shop.
As the menus were handed out to us, I immediately ordered for the shrimpcharon without even opening it. I was craving for it all throughout our long drive. Unfortunately, it wasn't available; my heart sank. To make matters worse, our waiter was an old man who was hearing-impaired(!). Either that or he was in no mood to serve us at all since we had to repeatedly ask about something before he answered.
After several minutes of discussion, we finally relayed our orders and waited hungrily for our food. The Oyster Rockefeller (P280) was quite good. Unlike those of San Mig or Via Mare however, the oysters here were small. Several pieces of shucked ones were laid on a sizzler (that wasn't sizzling) plate. Doused with butter garlic, these globules of gems were hidden underneath a tuft of spinach and a dense powder of parmesan. Slightly resistant at first, the oyster succumbs gently while scatters of cheese give it that sweet-salty taste; meanwhile the oil of the butter envelops the spinach leaves, all mixing fluidly in the mouth.
The Shanghai Style Rice (P110) abounds with generous amounts of ham (?) cut into strips entangled with minced vegetables and scraps of eggs. Good enough to eat by itself, the hardly salty and just-right umami flavor fared well with the other dishes, whether dry or those with sauces.
I did find the Rellenong Talong (P160) a tad too salty. The fried eggplant stuffed with ground pork and bits of shrimps was enwrapped in a blanket of yellow omelette. Sadly, it was a bit on the slimy side, and an overdose of salinity concluded each bite. I couldn't take more after the third.
When first served, the Tenderloin Tips (P280) was tough and rubbery, so much so that we had it returned to the kitchen to be replaced, at the very least redone. The second attempt was successful, the beef strips were then tender, gingerly laying in a puddle of savory brown sauce shared with slices of carrots, sayote, mushrooms, bell peppers and string beans.
I must confess, I'm partial to Callos dishes. I enjoy the really sebaceous ones and even the not so great ones if only to get my hands (or should I say taste buds) on those juicy ox tripes bathed in oleaginous red sauce, accented by one or two pieces of sliced chorizo and if I'm lucky, a few pieces of lean meat to break the fatty monotony. Josephine's Callos (P240) is on the good part of the flavor spectrum, its red sauce thick with distinct drops of oily goodness and slices of red and green bell peppers. The tripe breaks away easily, a testament to hours of cooking in boiling water. The gleaming fat and the red-tainted pocked tripe just beg to be devoured, and so I happily obliged.
It's the first time I've heard of Lumot Inihaw na Pusit (P290). The title is perhaps due to the mossy feel of the vegetable salsa comprising chopped lettuce, onions and tomatoes, but still it looked far from the not so appetizing name it entails. Even more far off is the taste because this is one good dish. The squid was charcoal grilled to perfection; taking a bite of its succulent meat releases a tumble of flavors from the imprisoned veggies. Sweet, tangy, acidic with a hint of pepper, the chopped salad provides a mouth-watering taste to an otherwise bland (but tender) seafood meat.
Josephine's take on Hainanese Chicken (P280) was alright, nothing mind-blowing. The chopped boiled chicken which wasn't too dry albeit not the juiciest either, rests on chicken stock broth and garnished with decorative leeks (?) and slices of lime on the side. The ginger oil sauce I didn't get to try because frankly, I don't like the taste of ginger. The soy sauce tasted a bit like the one used for dimsum and though a preferable alternative for me, I've tried others that would better suit a generally vapid dish such as this.
I loved the Josephine Iced Tea (P80) for its sweet, red tea flavor with a touch of lime. A single cherry is submerged, its stem floating above the tea level -- a signal of invitation for you to take a bite of its caressing sweetness. The Cucumber Coolers (P80) was refreshing with its mild cucumber flavor that cleanses the palate nicely. The Cranberry Coolers (P90) on the other hand, had a nice, tart cranberry juice flavor and a bobbing cherry as well.
With a grand dining hall and a fantastic view to boot, Josephine Restaurant will remain to be one of the most sought out places for destination events. It doesn't hurt that it offers good food at very affordable prices either. One thing's for sure, this restaurant holds an inexhaustible amount of memories of Filipino families from way back and will hold more for future Filipino generations.
Spot: Km. 58 Gen. Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika West, Tagaytay City
Contact Nos.: 0915.9856711 or 871.5627