What comes to mind when you hear the word “Gubat”? It usually means a forest with damp soil and moss covering trees. It’s probably a faraway place from the city that you need to hike to get to.
That’s probably what most of you are thinking when I said Gubat, but for those who studied at the University of the Philippines, Ateneo, Miriam, or other nearby colleges, you probably think of banana leaves, rice, and lechon kawali.
Hidden along the path towards Diliman Bonsai Society, there is a tiny door on your left with the simple signage on the bamboo door that says “Gubat”. Don’t be misled with the address on Waze, it’s actually that small road on the left side of the garden. Just ask around, it actually took us three times before we found the place.
Once you find it though, walk through the front gate and dip your head beneath hanging branches where you will find a simple set up of an open kitchen, huts, wooden tables, and books all over this place.
Even the simple way that the sun hits the leaves as you walk it, greenery in the middle of a busy street. It’s surprisingly still breezy even though we were there practically midday. It’s a nice respite from the concrete and monoblock chairs you usually find at establishments that serve food at this price point.
The menu itself is straightforward having nine different entrees that are deep-fried or stewed served on a banana leaf with rice and a pako salad, half a red egg, and a tomato. Another unique thing in Gubat is they don’t give you any utensils, diners are expected to practice ‘kamayan‘ or eating with your hands.
Insider Tip: You should come early, it gets pretty full at lunchtime as students and those who work flock with an area for the ambiance and affordable food.
During our visit, we ordered their best seller the lechon kawali. We paired that with their in house calamansi juice which they freshly squeeze upon ordering. You had to wait for a little while, as they cook your food fresh.
This simple combination of salted egg, pako, tomato on rice with the lechon kawali is very simple yet so satisfying. Crispy skin with that chewy tender meat dipped in a sauce of your choice. Aside from that the rice itself has a bit of adobo sauce to add even more umami in each spoonful. Each element of the dish from the dressing of the salad that is sweet in contrast to the salted egg and refreshing tomato. To add a bit of spice to your dish, try their homemade chili garlic sauce.
We understand why this hidden garden in C.P. Garcia is often frequented by students and those who live around the neighborhood. The whole ‘kamayan‘ concept makes it even more special as they are able to bring this type of experience not typically done anywhere in the city in this sort of setting. You go to places like this for the experience and the food. It’s something simple, delicious, and like home.
- Address: Diliman Bonsai Society, UP Campus, C.P. Garcia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
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