“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” – Cesar Chavez
Most tourists/ visitors come to Baguio not only for its cool weather, but also for the various cafés and restaurants that offer palatine-satisfying cuisine. Nearby Benguet capital, La Trinidad, is frequented because of its famed Strawberry Farm. What most people do not know and recognize, is the fact that the region’s “salad bowl” is also home to an array of must try local eateries. Case in point is this very simple, yet gastronomically satiating diner – café along Km. 6 in La Trinidad, Benguet.
BADU, may literally be translated as the local term for “dress”, however it is actually named after the owners surnames. This diner-café made its humble beginning in July 2016. One of the co-owners, Sir Abner Bayangan, enthusiastically talked about his eating place with a clear mission, and that is “to serve a 5-star menu to anyone and everyone at an affordable price”. It may sound too good to be true but one really has to pay them a visit and try the food they serve. Most of the meals in their menu are actually with a hint of Cordilleran flavor. Because of this, they have slowly attracted locals to come and dine their restaurant. They also boast off their signature cakes & desserts, and coffee & tea.
My friends and I were pretty fortunate that we have chanced upon Sir Abner in his food place. For me, the next best thing to eating food, is talking about it. So, I personally love how passionate when the owner started sharing stories about BADU. So while waiting for our food to be served, we got the chance to know more about BADU. Aside from wanting to serve quality food at affordable prices, Sir Abner said that he wants BADU to be a place where people can spend time talking with each other, eventually starting a community, and remember happy moments.
BADU may not be as fancy looking as other cafe – restaurants within Baguio and La Trinidad, but its simplicity and the FOOD experience make up for it. Besides, investing on the grandiosity of a place can be superficial in the long run.
Now on with the FOOD experience at BADU: As I have mentioned earlier, most meals and even pasta have a touch of Cordillera. In particular, the food we’ve tried has “kiniing”.
“KINIING” 101: According to “Slow Food for Biodiversity”, “kiniing” is a cured pork product made from meat obtained from locally raised native black pigs. To prepare the product, the lean parts of the meat are thinly sliced while guava leaves are first boiled in salted water. This decoction is removed from the fire, the guava leaves are removed, and the water is transferred into a container where the meat can be soaked for a few minutes. The use of guava leaves acts not only to scent the soaking water, but also creates a smell that drives away flies or other insects that might destroy the meat. It also helps to harden the meat. Next, the meat is smoked over pinewood to help preserve it and add flavor. For tastier kiniing, the meat is hung in the “suuban“, the top of the clay stove used for daily cooking, for a month or two.
My personal verdict: Generally, all “kiniing” food were surprisingly good. I like how the kiniing blended well with the white, creamy sauce of their “Kiniing Alfredo Pasta”, the “Kiniing Poppers” (a local wine-infused kiniing) tasted really good, their signature meal called “Badu Rice” is definitely a hungry-man’s meal as it contains 3 different dishes (a Szechuan flavored pork dish, a stir-fried vegetable dish, and my favorite of the 3 – a kiniing-stuffed chicken cordon bleu). But from among the meals served, my taste buds would agree with my stomach that the “kinisig” – a kiniing-infused sisig was the star of the table.
And for dessert, we got to try an array of their saccharine delights. They have various ice cream cakes (in vanilla, chocolate, and matcha flavors). But the matcha cheesecake, ice cream cheesecake, and lemon cake all made me want to forget a possible surge in my blood glucose level. They were that good!
It was a gastronomically delightful afternoon with new found friends at this modest place. Thank you to Sir Abner for sharing his place of love, bravery and community to us. Thank you for reminding us who also dream of owning a cafe/ restaurant someday, that putting up such business isn’t all about profit… that money will follow when we do things right. (Thanks too, to Momshie Sheryl of I am Storyteller for inviting me to join you). Shout out also to Chiki of Turistaboy, Relyn of Hello, Relyn, Demy, Shemen, and Sir Kurt (my pleasure to meet you all).
So, the next time you are in La Trinidad, whether you are there to visit the Strawberry Farm and Stobosa Houses, or climb Mount Jumbo and Mount Kalugong, drop by BADU and experience their food.
BADU is located at the 3rd Floor of Amos Bldg., KM6 in La Trinidad. Your landmarks include the last gate of Benguet State University (this is the gate closest to its athletic/ playing area), and its walking distance from the entry point of the Strawberry Farm. You can also visit their website HERE.
Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.