One of my favorite places in Albay is a family owned restaurant in Daraga. Balay Cena Una is a restaurant that truly pleases the senses. Set in a beautifully restored ancestral home, soaking in the old photos, the antique collector’s items, the wooden banisters (walls, floors and tables) is already a feast for the eyes – especially for heritage enthusiasts.
The cuisine is an excellent balance of the local flavour and the best from around the world. I always enjoy their Soupe Potiron (pumpkin or squash soup is my absolute favorite) – creamy and flavourful, 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). They also run the Dios Mabalos Po Foundation which runs 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 stay 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.
Balay Cena Una
F. Lotivio St. Bgy. Bagumbayan, Daraga Albay
+63.52.435.4338 / +63917.827.9520 (mobile)
Monday to Saturday – 10:00am to 10:00pm
Sunday – 11:30am to 9:00pm
Sunday – 11:30am to 2:30pm