Ronaldo’s Inspiring Local Flavor
Published in SunStar Davao
By Jojie Alcantara
Rhonson, who is not a steak lover, went home one day to gush at how good the steak at Ronaldo’s was. Ronaldo who? I asked.
This new restaurant in town, owned by sir Boboy Bangayan and wife whom I fondly call Ate Gene, is strategically located outside of their Holiday Fitness Gym along Torres Street, to lure physically fit and health conscious people just coming out straight from a rigid workout. Ate Gene laughed at this accusation. Apparently, it has become a favourite place of their gym enthusiasts.
After Rhon raved about the steak, my turn was supposed to be with editor Stella Estremera (your Going Places food critic) and ABS-CBN station head Trish Corpuz. I didn’t make it because of heavy rain (asthmatics are like cats, we avoid wet weather like a cold early morning bath).
Ate Gene related how both girls told her they were about to try the place earlier with Miss Chari Villa when Stella saw through the glass panels how “there were too many glasses and utensils on the tables” which signified fine dining for her. They didn’t come in because they were in too casual shorts. To which Ate Gene replied this is a restaurant with no dress code, given that Ronald is always wearing shorts. That’s sir Boboy’s real name (letter O was added for a Spanish-Filipino ring to it).
So there I was one fine evening with buddy Ian Garcia and Rhonson, waiting for the dishes to be served. Ate Gene has rattled off several items on the menu to the waiter and we had this feeling we were about to be overfed. She was doing the same to the next long table, consisting of friends from the morning gym classes.
When each delectable dish arrived one after the other, we were swept away by the distinct taste of each specialty. Inspired by the local flavours of Davao region, the menu states, “offering the best produce from the fertile soils of Mt. Apo and its surrounding areas and the finest catches of the sea, designed and cook by equally inspired Chefs from Davao”. Indeed, it was a sumptuous discovery, as I tried to explain to Ian, that there was “an explosion of flavours inside my mouth”.Think Malagos Pizza with Arugula, Fresh Cheese and Gourmet Tuyo (cheese from Malagos is a delicacy outside of Davao unknown to most of us). Savor the Bankerohan Linguine (mixed shellfish of Saang, Sicad, and Bankawil’s Lubad in a light cream essence bought from our famous wet market). Sopa de Samal Estilo Ysabel is named in honor of food consultant Chef Gene Gonzalez’ Cafe Ysabel . Tagum Mushroom Cream with Truffle was a delight but we were also raving over the Cebollitas Soup which is a take on onion soup but with Davao cheese mixed in. YUMMM (that’s capital letters for you).
The Foie Gras with Guava Confit came in a neat presentation which delighted our palates as well. So when our main course arrived, we were already stuffed turkeys. There was Gene’s Argentine Cut Smothered with Fresh Tagum Mushroom (you can opt for the US cut or our very own Malaybalay tenderloin), and the flavourful Gambasetti. The young chef Alfred Yeung came out to personally give us the steak which was handed over on a huge plate (emptied right after, even when Ate Gene added more strips of juicy meat).
I could go on and on and just forget the classy titles but not each taste. Don’t let the names put you off, the menu offers a reasonable price for such specialty dishes that leave you filled and burping as you leave.
The fun ending to the sinful dinner was Ate Gene’s insistence that we visit her ladies’ room.
Lo and behold, it was a charming hangout with two comfy lounge sofas, mirrors everywhere, a delicate sink stand in the middle, and a cozy ambience to laze around. Kudos to young interior designer Jenny Tan, Ate Gene’s desire to have a secret den was conjured (I actually told her to name it Gene’s Den but it looked more like Gene’s Lair). Meanwhile, sir Boboy complained the male room didn’t have that much space to even hang around for a chit chat. Do males even do that?
The evening was super. We still felt full the next morning. I may come back again to try that Prawn’s Suzette, which we jokingly referred to in Ate Suzabel Reta’s honor. Ate Gene promises to keep adding more unique and new flavours of Mindanao. Meanwhile, Sir Boboy called me when Ate Gene wasn’t looking. In his deadpan standup comic delivery, he whispered loudly, “Yes, the restaurant is in my name, but you can tell who the boss is around here now that you’ve seen the ladies’ room. She should pay me for using my name.” That’s the quiet but supportive Ronald to you, who always stands by his wife’s entrepreneurial decisions, even when the letter O is added to his namesake.
As published in April 2011 issue of Mabuhay Magazine, photo by Rhonson Ng
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(Jojie Alcantara is SunStar’s long time columnist filling in as guest writer for Stella Estremera’s Places to Go because Stella had somewhere to go and Jojie was, well… just in town that week. Visit her website or email to firstname.lastname@example.org)