Dekada Historic Filipino Cuisine
Royale Parc Hotel Tagaytay, Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Silang Junction West, Tagaytay, Cavite
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) The rainy season is the perfect time to head to Tagaytay if you want to enjoy the sweater weather. The best activity to do there? Indulge in familiar and comforting Filipino dishes—and you'll find just that at Dekada Historic Filipino Cuisine.
Opened in July 2019, Dekada at Royale Parc Hotel Tagaytay is an offshoot of the brand that first launched in Glorietta last 2013. Its concept is pretty simple: Filipino food is very popular in the city, considering the number of establishments that offer the cuisine as well as the foreign tourists and balikbayans that flock to the area. Unlike other Pinoy restaurants in the neighborhood, Dekada presents their Filipino fare by banking on history.
Dekada’s interiors reflect the same history it takes pride in. It sports a similar look as the original, but this branch is updated to also seamlessly blend in with its location, the Royale Parc Hotel Tagaytay. The hotel, which was built in the late 1970s, came under new management three years ago. Renovating it and putting up a franchised restaurant were sentimental endeavors of the owner. “Their family loved to go here in Tagaytay, and the place they [used to] always stay in was here in Royale Parc,” shares Nilda Diaz Serrano, the hotel’s corporate general manager.
“Considering its location and the target market, we can say that this Dekada branch is the perfect marriage of traditional and modern influences, with Tagaytay as backdrop,” describes Gelo Cruz, senior interior designer of Space Encounters, the design firm for this branch of Dekada. The inspiration came from Philippine classical architecture mixed with traditional elements like wood paneling, balustrade, and capiz. To update the look, the interior design team injected pop art, bright colors, and industrial finishes in the form of bare walls. Even the murals of Filipino heroes that decorate the restaurant are done in vector graphics to lend a modern touch. “Since Dekada is known for its ingenious representation of authentic Filipino dishes, we aimed for interiors that would add dynamism to traditional Filipino design,” Cruz adds.
The menu clues you in on how serious the restaurant is when it comes to promoting Filipino food—there are more than 100 dishes to choose from! Leafing through the pages is like browsing through a photo album of nostalgic stories in the form of gastronomy. “It’s like telling the story from the pre-Hispanic era…until the EDSA Revolution,” adds Antonio. The menu is categorized according to certain historic events, while some of the dishes are named after heroes and prominent personalities throughout the country’s history.
In keeping with the theme, Dekada prepares its dishes the traditional way, much like the way our lolas did it before there were food processors and instant pots. There are no shortcuts, according to Ric Loteria, the restaurant’s head chef. “We don’t use 'yong broth; we use 'yong stocks na we do from scratch—that’s the difference. Hindi siya instant-instant lang,” he proudly relates.
Because every item on the menu is freshly prepared, Dekada’s kitchen is already up and running even before the sun rises. Says chef Ric, “Our kitchen is ready from 5 a.m. because we have breakfast because of the hotel. The breakfast is totally different from other hotels because the portions are the ones we use for a la carte, so it’s not 'yong sabihin mong tipid.”
Dekada boasts authentic Pinoy fare with a bit of twist. Take, for example, the Lumpiang Palabok (P228), an appetizer of inihaw na mahi-mahi paired with palabok noodles and wrapped in rice paper—an unusual but tasty way to start off your feast. For something healthier, go for Pako Salad with Adobo Flakes (P288), a refreshing medley of fiddlehead fern, lettuce, and shredded adobo flakes, topped with kesong puti and drizzled with vinaigrette and olive oil.
It can be quite overwhelming to pick a main dish (or two), but you can never go wrong with the bestsellers. If you want a hearty soup dish to warm you up in the cool Tagaytay weather, have a generous serving of Vinzons (P368), a tamarind-based sinigang with meaty shortribs and cubes of watermelon. This version of Dekada hits the right tangy notes without being overly sour.
There’s also Gomburza (P458), or ox tail and tripe kare-kare. It’s made with real crushed peanuts, which you can immediately savor in a spoonful. The Magdalo Magdiwang (P368) features a generous helping of creamy and buttery lengua con setas (beef tongue with mushroom). This is served with thin-cut potato fries, which perfectly complements the melt-in-your-mouth lengua. Of course, an authentic Pinoy meal is not complete without rice, and you might want to go for the chef-recommended Benedictino (P398), or aligue rice with one whole crab sitting on top of it. Although mixed with crab fat, the rice is surprisingly not oily, so you won’t feel guilty if you want a second helping.
Wash down all those savory flavors with freshly made juices and shakes (from P128 to P168). Antonio recommends their Ube Shake (P168) and Mango Sago (P108)—both are creamy refreshments with tiny tapioca pearls for that Pinoy touch. If you have to make room for dessert, save it for the Taho At Kesong Puti Cheesecake (P238). Since it’s made of kesong puti, it’s not as tart as the typical cheesecake. Topped with a heaping serving of sago, this sweet treat tastes just like our beloved street-side taho!
For pasalubong, you can never go wrong with buko pie, Tagaytay’s staple souvenir. Dekada has its own version, of course: the Buko Crumble Pie (P262) filled with slivers of soft coconut flesh in warm crust that’s baked freshly daily. Get this and other delectable pies like Ube Macapuno and Mango from the Pasalubong section.
So the next time you crave Pinoy food and you’re headed south of the Metro, you might fancy “dining” with our national heroes. Wouldn't that make for a good (hi)story?
Photos by Vincent Coscolluela