Set in a beautifully restored ancestral home, and teeming with old photos, antique collector’s items, wooden banisters (walls, floors and tables), Balay Cena Una is already a feast for the eyes – especially for heritage enthusiasts – even before food is served.
The cuisine is an excellent balance between the local flavor and the best from around the world. I always enjoy their Soupe Potiron (pumpkin or squash soup is my absolute favorite) – creamy and flavorful, and I’d like to believe, healthy! On our last visit there, we had their Cordon Bleu and Pork Medallion in Pepper Sauce. Soft, tender, and very tasty.
I highly recommend the Pasta Cena Una though – a pinangat pasta (laing or gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk, with smoked fish)! This allows you to taste the best of Bicol in a pasta dish.
Their desserts are world class – and not just in taste, but in presentation as well. The fruit, chocolates, and syrup that embellish the main dessert are carefully placed, making the eating experience more delightful (and the picture-taking prior to the eating more fun as well).
What makes the meal more meaningful, though, is knowing that by supporting the restaurant, we support a greater cause. The family that owns Balay Cena Una is very pro-Filipino, in the sense that they promote Filipino (Bicolano) culture in their food and their products (they export certain abaca products).
The family also runs the Dios Mabalos Po Foundation which conducts feeding programs in the region. There is a charming cottage at the back of the restaurant (where Tom, JJ, and I stayed one evening) where one can reside for a sack of rice/night. The sack of rice is used for their feeding program.
For us, Balay Cena Una offers the finest dining experience in Bicol. You satisfy your palates and stomachs and contribute to feeding others as well. This is a must-visit place for those who aim for both sustainable travel and class-A service.
F. Lotivio St. Bgy. Bagumbayan, Daraga Albay +63.52.435.4338 / +63917.827.9520 (mobile)
Restaurant Hours: Monday to Saturday – 10:00am to 10:00pm Sunday – 11:30am to 9:00pm Buffet: Sunday – 11:30am to 2:30pm