Fine Dining Ambiance At Affordable Price at Davao’s Donum Dei (God’s Gift)
Ida Damo | Dec 20, 2018
Davao has been growing leaps and bounds. With all the development going on, Davaoeños have been taking on the challenge to provide for and adapt to change.
Restaurants and other food places has been opening to cater to the growing needs of the Davaoeños for a variety of food choices. But what do Davaoeños prefer? Good old-fashioned home cooking.
Donum Dei or God’s Gift is the brainchild of Bernadith Jimenez Ipanag who has had years of experience running and cooking for their carinderia. Everything that they serve is a product of years of being in the food business and so you are guaranteed of good, quality, delicious food, that evokes of dinners in your home’s kitchen but is affordable.
Even the ambiance of the restaurant is elegant and yet rustic. If you just look from the outside, you would say it is for fine dining but when you get to peruse the menu, you can actually have fine dining without the extra cost.
Bernadith and the chef developed their menu from all-time Filipino cuisine favorites and so you would be comfortable ordering and knowing that you would get what you have in mind.
There may be surprises in the presentation or flavor but it sticks to what you have grown up with.
And since the restaurant is in front of a university, they also serve budget meals for the students.
So what dishes made me feel right at home at Donum Dei?
1. Ampalaya Na May Dilis (Bitter Gourd with Dried Salted Anchovies)
My mom and I always had an argument when it came to eating ampalaya. I was anemic and mom said I needed to eat ampalaya. I did not like it hen because it was bitter. Later on in college, I learned how to appreciate it and even managed to prepare it on my own.
So the first thing that I noticed about the Ampalaya Na May Dilis is that it was not too bitter; the preparation that it was soaked in, was sour (vinegar) that blended well with the crunchy salty dilis.
It is a perfect appetizer but yes, it would be a good as a main viand, too.
2. Ginataang Maanghang Anghang na Langka with Tahong (Jackfruit in Spicy and Sweet Coconut Milk with Shellfish)
Whenever I would get to eat ginataang langka, it would always be sweet and garnished with either shrimps or dried fish. This time, it was fresh tahong and the langka was a little spicy which added a different bite to the sweet and creamy coconut milk.
The tahong is a surprise as it provided a twist to the usual dish. It also added a different flavor to the mix.
Pinakbet is an Ilokano original but different places in the country has introduced variations to it. I would always remember how my housemate in college who is an Ilokano, cooked it.
Pile all the freshest vegetables in a pot, sliced tomatoes, pour bagoong, simmer, do not stir.
Donum Dei’s pinakbet tasted the closest to that cherished pinakbet memory because it used bagoong instead of the alamang. They then topped it with crispy pork cutlets. It was delicious.
And here we come to my barometer for good Filipino dish--- Kare-Kare. My criteria for judging kare-kare: Sauce should be peanutty and mixed with ground rice and not just commercial peanut butter; vegetables should still be fresh and crunchy; meat should be tender and juicy and tasty even without the sauce; and the alamang should not be too salty and overpower the natural sweetness of the peanut sauce but complement it.
After consulting with Bernadith on why the taste of the peanut is faint, she said it came from the sauce turning into a reduction. And so, aside from that, the kare-kare was just fine.
There are still a lot of dishes to sample and we are definitely going back for the lechon kawali.
Do try Donum Dei. Fine dining atmosphere with home cooking that is affordable.
How to get there:
- Davao City can be reached by plane from Manila and Cebu. Major airlines have daily flights to Davao. Travel time is an hour and 50 minutes from Manila and 50 minutes from Cebu.
- Donum Dei is located at University Avenue fronting Women’s in Juna Subdivision.