Chef Chele Gonzalez's Fine-Dining Spot in Tagaytay Is All About Top-Tier Flavors in a Breezy Setting

Samira at Anya Resort ought to be at the top of your Tagaytay itinerary.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
PHOTO BY Toto Labrador ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

Samira by Chele Gonzalez
G/F Anya Resort, Buenavista Hills Road, Barangay Mag-Asawang Ilat, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Contact: 0998-955-3630
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SamiraByCheleGonzalez
Open from 6:30 to 10 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for lunch, and 6 to 10 p.m. for dinner, Monday to Sunday

(SPOT.ph) Anyone who’s looking for a quick escape from the city knows that a food trip or an overnight stay at Tagaytay is usually worth the drive. Food lovers and luxury travelers in search of bespoke guest experiences, tropical-themed villas and gardens, and excellently crafted food have been flocking to Anya Resort, a quiet wellness sanctuary just a short drive from the CALAX expressway exit.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
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Samira by Chele Gonzalez is the resort’s in-house restaurant and is led by Gallery by Chele's renowned chef Jose Luis “Chele” Gonzalez. Sanskrit for "wind," Samira brings Gonzalez’s fine dining fare into a relaxed, easy atmosphere inspired by the breezy winds and local flavors of Tagaytay City. The perfect venue to transport yourself and your tastebuds out of the city and into vacation mode, Samira whips up dishes that highlight Chele’s creativity with homegrown ingredients, beautiful plating, and gastronomic storytelling.

Also read: The Stellar New Menu of Gallery by Chele Gives You a Glimpse of Chef Chele Gonzalez’s Personal Side

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
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Make your way to Chef Chele Gonzalez’s new fine dining establishment on your next trip to Tagaytay:

The partnership between Samira and Chele had been a long time coming. Conceptualization began in 2019 and took a pause during the pandemic. The break gave Chele time to consider exactly what would go into Samira by Chele Gonzalez’s menu. Everything from the dinnerware he used to the interior decor to the flavors he would bring together went into careful consideration. Samira launched in March 2022 with two bold and distinctive dining experiences: a four-course set menu dubbed the Cocido Experience, and a six-course tasting menu with an option for wine pairing.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
We can't emphasize enough how much attention Samira puts into the details. 
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
 
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The six-course set menu (P2,950 per person, with an additional P1,700 for wine pairing) builds from light to heavy dishes, and moves your palate from subtle flavors to bold and potent tastes. Take your time with each of the six courses—each one tells a singular story that Samira’s staff introduces and explains every step of the way.

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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Foie Gras and Mango Waffle, Seafood Crisp Rice Cracker
Going for the six-course menu is a great way to experience Chef Gonzalez's penchant for great flavor and creativity in the kitchen. 
PHOTO BY Toto Labrador

The amuse bouche is delivered in two sets and is paired with Bohigas Extra Brut Cava if you go for the wine-pairing option. The first set is a surprising Foie Gras and Mango Waffle—a savory-sweet number of a homemade waffle topped with cream cheese and foie gras mousse— paired with a light Seafood Crisp Rice Cracker with an heirloom homemade rice cracker, cream cheese, shrimp, and mussels topped with fresh strawberries and cilantro.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, savory foie gras and mango waffle
Rich foie is given a vibrant lift with mango in the Foie Gras and Mango Waffle. 
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, seafood crisp rice cracker
The Seafood Crisp Rice Cracker, on the other hand, makes for light and zingy bites. 
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The second set consists of a Chorizo Donut, which pairs homemade donuts with prunes and chorizo mousse; as well as a must-try Bulalo Taco, which pulls from Tagaytay’s classic renowned soup, and mixes in some Mexican flavor with cilantro, jalapeños, and corn puree.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, chorizo donut
Balls of dough are stuffed with prunes and chorizo mousse in the Chorizo Donuts.
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, bulalo taco
Mexican and Filipino worlds meld in the clever Bulalo Taco. 
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From there, the menu progresses to the official first course: the Fresh Coconut Ceviche, which is rolled to your table and prepared right before serving. The dish includes snapper in tiger’s milk (a.k.a. leche de tigre, the vibrant marinade that also naturally cures the fish) accompanied by calamansi, coconut, roasted cashew, corn, and basil. The ceviche is refreshing and perfect for kilawin fans—the tangy calamansi and the soothing coconut milk create an unforgettable base that you’ll want to savor with every bite. If you want your ceviche extra spicy, you have an option to add chili to the mix. The ceviche is paired with a Josmeyer Fleur de Lotus Reisling from Alsace, which is famed for its tropical, fruity character.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay
The Samira team prepares the Fresh Coconut Ceviche right as it's served. 
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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Fresh Coconut Ceviche
Here, snapper mingles with calamansi, coconut, roasted cashew, corn, and basil for a vibrant-tasting whole. 
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For the second course, Samira serves the Grilled Octopus with Ali-oli, which stars char-grilled pulpo plus mashed potato paprika parmentier, breadcrumbs, and a garlic mayonnaise sauce. The octopus is grilled using charcoal—and you get a surprisingly soft and tender bite that's delightful matched with the creamy mashed potato. Fans of potent, bold flavors are in for a treat here. The dish is paired with the Barahonda Chiraz, which stands up to the octopus with its equally bold profile.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Grilled Octopus with Ali-oli
This ain't your ordinary pulpo; Samura grills their octopus using volcanic rock from the Taal Valcano.  
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The menu settles into more mellow flavors with the third course, featuring a colorful Pan-Seared Salmon with citrus mayonnaise and cauliflower puree. The salmon topping is torched and baked, with lemon rind sprinkled on top for added zest. Hot tip: you won’t want to miss the extra salmon skin that comes with the dish—it's wonderfully crispy and fun to nibble on in between forkfuls of the fillet.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Pan-Seared Salmon
Come for the succulent salmon fillet, stay for the addictively crisp skin in the Pan-Seared Salmon plate. 
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Fans of Italian cuisine will want to savor every bite of the Duck with Porcini and Truffle Risotto, which comes fourth on the menu. Both the duck and the risotto deliver a powerful burst of umami—neither one overpowers the other, and each ingredient serves to create a richer, more flavorful whole. Fresh truffle is shaved over the creamy vegetable rice right at the table, imparting its signature earthy aroma into the dish. The boldness of this dish is elevated and uplifted by its red wine pairing, the Cuatro Rayas Organic Tempranillo Rueda.

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samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Duck with Porcini and Truffle Risotto
In the Duck with Porcini and Truffle Risotto, the poultry and risotto come together into a harmonious whole. 
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The heftiest of the dishes comes by way of the fifth course, Grilled US Angus Beef Tenderloin, which is cooked just until medium-rare for a tender interior steak fans would love. It's kept company by parmesan mashed potatoes, charred red cabbage, truffles, and mushroom jus—making for a star dish that's a hearty and comforting roundup to the savory courses.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Grilled US Angus Beef Tenderloin
Carnivores can get their dose of meaty comfort by way of the Grilled US Angus Beef Tenderloin. 
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Dessert is arguably the pièce de résistance  of the entire six-course menu—Gonzalez’s reimagining of Tagaytay’s famous buko pie. Yup, the Buko Pie in Textures is something you’ll certainly want to write home about as it's got sweet crumbs, buko meat, panna cotta, and homemade latik ice cream. What makes this deconstructed pie extra special is the genius addition of the panna cotta; smooth and creamy in texture, it works beautifully with the delectable chunks of young coconut. Fans of kakanin will also delight in the latik ice cream, as it's got a subtle caramel note that lends depth to the mix. Take it with a cup of coffee and you’re sure to go home happy.

samira by chef chele gonzalez, anya resort tagaytay, Buko Pie in Textures
Chef Chele reimagines classic buko pie into a deconstructed dessert in the Buko Pie in Textures—and yup, it's perfect paired with coffee. 
PHOTO BY Toto Labrador

For a more classically Spanish flavor voyage, it's also well worth saving a date to try out Samira's Cocido Experience (P1,900 per person)—a four-course set menu that presents traditional comfort food that’s hearty, soulful, and drawn from centuries-old techniques. Cocido, a dish found in different regions all through Spain, consists of a variety of meats (collectively referred to as compango), garbanzo beans, and other ingredients meticulously boiled and stewed over long periods of time in clay pots. The set menu includes courses like the Ropa Vieja Pintxos complemented by Compango Croquetas; and a hearty soup of garbanzo beans dubbed the Segunda Paso. The star of the show is the Tercer Paso, a meaty stew of beef, pork, and chicken along with chorizo and morcilla sausages, served with Cocido Paella and Chele’s Mama Fries; and the meal concludes with Chef Chele’s famous Burnt Basque Cheesecake.

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Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to treat your tastebuds to something new and different, a trip to Samira will be worth your time. Set aside half a day to enjoy your meal, take in the sights, revel in the Tagaytay breeze, and walk off the calories as you explore Anya’s lush grounds.

Photos by Toto Labrador

UPDATE (May 26, 11:30 a.m.): Samira has reached out to clarify the correct prices for the Tasting and Cocido set menus. The article has been edited to reflect that development.

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