Four reasons why Sammy’s in Cainta is a hidden gem worth uncovering

The areas east of Manila are home to many noteworthy restaurants that satisfy the discerning foodie’s need for great food and beautiful surroundings.

Sammy’s, the rustic restaurant tucked away in one of the inner subdivisions in Valley Golf, Cainta, has a lot more going for it.

Curious yet? Read on to discover four reasons why this hidden gem should be brought out to the light of day for everyone to enjoy.

One: The warm welcome.

Sammy’s is located in a fairly hidden street in the Valley View Executive Subdivision, one of the residential villages inside Valley Golf in Cainta, Rizal. Together with my foodie friends from #WeLoveToEatPH and #SaanSaPH, I was able to locate the place thanks to Google Maps and to the cute signboard made of corrugated steel that hangs outside the gate.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

When the gate opened, we were greeted by the smiling Chef Sammy Isidro and his lovely wife Dorothy. And boy, do they have a lot of fun stories to tell! (But more on that later.)

Two: The beautiful place.

The restaurant is actually located at the second floor of their house. A high ceiling decorated by hanging Edison lamps and large windows that let in lots of natural light give the room an open and airy feel. While the area is just big enough to seat twenty to twenty-four people, the layout makes it seem much bigger.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Adding character to the place is its decor which is a cross between rustic and industrial. Polished pine wood tables and woven hemp place mats complement the black and white ceramic ware and clear glassware. Clocks made of bike parts adorn one wall, while a light fixture made of pipes accent another.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Even the washroom is visually appealing: check out that kawali sink!

And the lush greenery from the trees outside provide a verdant backdrop for all of these elements, and, of course, the delicious dishes that Chef Sammy whips up in the kitchen.

Three: The delicious Indonesian-inspired food.

Sammy’s serves a carefully thought-out curation of Asian cuisine influenced, no doubt, by the seventeen years the couple spent in Jakarta. (Doing what there? Again, more on that later, I promise!)

Sammy’s, Cainta

We were served these delectable dishes:

Sammy’s Breakfast (Php390). This big-enough-for-two meal consists of Chef Sammy’s favorite breakfast meal items which include Pinoy classics such as beef tapa, tocino, longganisa and danggit, accompanied by garlic fried rice and omelet.

Sammy’s, Cainta

5-Hour Pork Belly in two ways…

With Laing and White Rice (Php290). A lean piece of pork belly is roasted at low temperature for five hours to achieve a tender texture and a smokey flavor. It is placed on a bed of homemade laing, the Bicolano staple made of taro leaves accompanied by steamed rice.

Sammy’s, Cainta

In a Cubano Sandwich with Kamote Fries (Php250). Showcasing the versatility 5-hour pork belly, Chef Sammy uses it in a hearty Cubano sandwich together with pickles, cheese and a tart sauce in a crisp Cubano bread with kamote (sweet potato) fries on the side.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Konro with White Rice (Php530). In this Indonesian version of braised beef, big chunks of flavorful ribs are slow-cooked for hours in its own drippings, thereby concentrating its flavor. By the way, this giant serving is also big enough for two.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Nasi Goreng (Php190). In this Indonesian take on the fried rice, precooked rice is flavored with kecap manis (a sweet kind of soy sauce), shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and tamarind, and made heartier with the addition of juicy pieces of chicken satay on skewers and krupuk crackers.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Mango Crepes with Vanilla Sauce (Php160). Chef Sammy first tasted this dessert when he was a waiter at La Scala years ago and his fond memories of it drove him to include it in the menu of his own restaurant.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Banana Bread French Toast (Php140). Slices of homemade banana loaf are dipped in a rich egg mixture then lightly toasted, making this dessert extra decadent.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Martabak Manis. This thick pancake dish popular in Indonesia is filled chocolate sprinkle, crushed peanuts, cheese and condensed milk. It’s not yet on the menu but given our enthusiastic reaction to it, it definitely should be.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Fresh Fruit Shakes: Ripe Mango Shake (Php140) and Banana Milk Shake (Php130).

Sammy’s, Cainta

Hot Bicolano Tabrilla Chocolate (Php65). This cup of decadently thick hot chocolate made from single-origin tabrilla from Bicol is perfect for lazy Sunday mornings when you just want to luxuriate in its sweet comfort… or any other time, really.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Four: The singing chef… and his wife!

And now for the low-down: Chef Sammy and Dorothy spent seventeen years as singers in the Hotel Mulia Senayan Jakarta, where they exemplified the musical prowess of Pinoys to the hotel’s international clientele.

In between his singing gigs, Sammy achieved his Diploma 1 at the Jakarta Culinary Center.

Now that they have their own establishment back home, Chef Sammy and Dorothy still break out into song from time to time, but mostly as an extra treat for their dinner guests after dessert has been served.

Imagine a Valentine’s Day date, an intimate proposal or an anniversary celebration with these two singing in the background. (Kilig time ahead!) 😍😍😍

So given all these reasons, I think it’s high time that Sammy’s become a prime destination for foodies, and not just for those living east of Manila. Don’t you agree?

Thanks to Chef Sammy and Dorothy for an awesome dining experience for me and my foodie buddies!

Sammy’s Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s is located at 14 Raspberry Bend Street, Valley View Executive Subdivision Phase 3, San Juan, Cainta. The restaurant is open Tuesdays to Saturdays for breakfast from 7am to 11.30am and for dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm, and on Sundays for breakfast from 7am to 11.30am.

Seating is strictly by reservation so call +63 939 1483960 to book your table.

Sammy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I attended a foodie meetup held here wherein food and drink items were served to allow us to sample the fare. These were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my blog posts on breakfast joints around the metro:

Haven for coffee and comfort food lovers: Little Owl Cafe, New Manila

Hidden away in New Manila is a haven for lovers of coffee and comfort food.

Renovated from one of the previously worn-down houses along Broadway Avenue, Little Owl Cafe is nestled among lush greenery. Started as a coffee shop but now a full service cafe, it serves food that features a fusion of Italian and Asian cuisines that professionals working in the area or families residing nearby can enjoy.

I was recently invited to a Blogger’s Dinner at this restaurant where I was able to sample some of its delectable offerings:

Omelette Chorizo Rice (Php270). Part of the resto’s All-Day Breakfast Menu, it consists of homemade longganisa rice, delicately wrapped in a thin omelette and topped with onion gravy and aioli.

Sisig Tacos (Php210). Three pieces of soft-shell tacos topped with crispy sisig and a savory liver aioli sauce. A great start to the meal!

Glazed Cauliflower (Php210). Cauliflower covered in a sweet and spicy soy glaze then deep-fried to crispiness. A great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!

Truffle Mushroom Pasta (Php350). Al dente noodles tossed in a rich homemade mushroom sauce made with three different kinds of mushrooms – shiitake, enoki and shimeji – topped with fried enoki and drizzled with truffle oil.

Shrimp & Aligue Pasta (Php330). Pasta noodles tossed in a creamy tomato sauce incorporating shrimp aligue and served with plump grilled shrimps.

Beef Tapa & Cheese Sandwich (Php295). A Pinoy take on the Philly Cheesesteak which showcases savory slivers of beef tapa, it is accompanied by a hefty serving of crisp shoestring fries.

Chicken & Waffle (Php270). Chicken thighs covered in batter then fried to a crisp then served with sriracha coleslaw over cheddar waffles.

Lechon Kawali Bibimbap (Php320). The classic sweet-spicy Korean fried rice served with sauteed mushrooms and spinach accompanied by deep fried pork belly and fried egg. A great combination of Pinoy and Korean flavors!

Chicken Satay (Php280). A bowl of Indonesian- inspired fried rice served with grilled chicken thigh and its trademark peanut sauce.

Beef Rendang (Php420). Tenderchuck slow-cooked in aromatic spices and coconut cream. A little too spicy for me but a sure winner for those who like their food with lots of kick!

Kimchi Salmon Sinigang (Php420). Salmon belly and loin seared then served in a spicy and sour soup.

Iced Mocha (Php170). A rich yet refreshing blend of chocolate and coffee flavors, it is among the Toby’s Estate beverages served in this restaurant.

Pink Owl (Php180). A fruity cocktail of vodka, lychee, watermelon and mint. A suitable drink to chase away the workday stress.

Little Owl Cafe’s food offerings provide its diners with an adventurous break from the everyday meals but with enough familiar flavors to make them appealing to those with more conservative tastebuds.

Its premises are well-appointed, tastefully furnished and prettily lit, great backgrounds for foodie shots and group photos.

Since this resto is conveniently located a short distance from my workplace, I definitely can drop by again for dinner with friends after office hours.

Little Owl Cafe is located at 65 Broadway Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City, open Mondays to Saturdays from 11am to 10pm and Sundays from 8am to 9pm. For inquiries, call + 63 917 8181468 or +63 2 5012036.

Little Owl also accepts bookings for special events such as weddings, birthdays, holiday parties, press conferences and more, with function rooms that can be reserved for a minimum consumable amount.

Little Owl Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.