While in between foodie meetups, Carlo Tecson of EatsCMT.food.blog and I decided to look for a place to pass the time in. We therefore embarked on the first of what we will call our #ZomatoGoldDiggerRaids.
Here’s how it goes: we go to a place and start looking for restos that offer 1+1 deals on food via Zomato Gold. Depending on how hungry we are, one or both of us will unlock our Zomato Gold privilege to enjoy at least one free dish.
This particular Saturday, as we were in the Marikina area, the Zomato Gold app yielded Ca Phe Saigon as one of our options. Since we both haven’t eaten there before, we decided to check it out.
It turned out to be a house a little bit off the main road with a seemingly nondescript facade aside from its signboard. That is, until you get a whiff of the fresh basil, Vietnamese coriander, lemon mint and other herbs being grown right there in the gardens fronting the store. These locally and organically grown herbs are used in the restaurant’s signature dishes, which include:
Pho Bo Kho (Php160 for regular). This is a very fragrant noodle stew colored with achuete and flavored by lemongrass with tender pieces of beef.
Banh cuon (Php110). These are steamed rolls filled with shrimp, pork, mushroom and carrots served on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with crisp shallots. It comes with a side of Special Vietnamese sweet fish sauce.
As is characteristic of Vietnamese cuisine, meat is used sparsely in the dishes. The flavor of the food is driven by the vegetables and herbs used. This results to light and healthy meals that one can indulge in with less of the guilt.
Of course, I can hardly resist sampling the beverage from which this resto gets its name, can I? I got myself a Ca Phe Sua Da (Php100) which is made from coarsely ground Vietnamese dark roast coffee brewed right before my eyes using a small metal French drip filter. Boiling water is poured onto the coffee, which is is dripped into a cup quarter-filled with sweetened condensed milk. This mixture is stirred then poured into a tall glass with ice, making a refreshing and exotic pick-me-upper.
Carlo and I passed the time in comfort in the cozy restaurant until dinner time neared and a line started forming outside. For us, this was proof that this hidden gem has developed quite a following among Marikina residents.
Driving the concept and the menu for the store is co-owner Rose Bonifacio who is Vietnamese. Her daughter, Apple, handles the business side of the restaurant. Her husband, Sonny, on the other hand, as the resident green thumb, sees to the cultivation of the herbs and vegetables in their little garden.
So if ever you’re in the Marikina area, do check out Ca Phe Saigon for an authentic and healthy taste of Vietnam.
And thanks to Zomato Gold, we got the Banh cuon for free!
Want to score a similar discount? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.
Ca Phe Saigon is located at 14 Red Cedar Street, New Marikina, San Roque, Marikina City, open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11am to 10pm. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 2 6461438 or +63 917 8016411.
If you’re a Vietnamese food aficionado who lives or works in the Ortigas area, you’re in luck because Ca Phe Saigon has a stall in The Corner Market, Second Floor, The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City. You can check it out Mondays to Thursdays from 11am to 10pm and Fridays to Sundays from 10am to 10pm.
Check out my reviews of other Vietnamese restaurants: