Destinations

Looking for the freshies at ‘Oh My Gulay!’

Dom visits ‘Oh My Gulay!’, the much-hyped restaurant in the middle of Baguio City’s Session Road, and finds that – while it does offer a rustic location – it isn’t necessarily the number one must-visit destination for chow. Know the limits to appreciate this place, is the tip.

By DominiK is Dominique

This won’t be the first go-through (review, even) you’d see on Oh My Gulay! – that much-hyped art venue cum resto right in the middle of Baguio City’s Session Road. And there was a time, maybe, when this venue deserved the “noise” it created/received; a recent visit, however, only made me think “Oh my…”, as I tried oh-so-hard to comprehend the source of all the excitement that this place seemed to have created (at least in the past)…

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WHAT’S THERE (i.e. WHY GO THERE)

Baguio City is, of course, known for offering some of the freshest goods in the country – one of the benefits of being close to some of the country’s major food sources (e.g. Benguet). It comes as no surprise, therefore, for a place named after (or at least insinuating) freshies to exist – i.e. the “gulay”, which means veggies in Filipino, in “Oh My Gulay!”.

And this is the promise of the place…

Which it sorts of “stresses”, with the venue’s peculiarity.

Oh My Gulay! is located atop La Azotea Bldg. along Session Road, the main thoroughfare of downtown Baguio. The – for the lack of a better word – drama of the place actually starts at the building’s fourth floor. From there, the concrete stairs become wooden as you go up the fifth floor. And then when you enter the main door (what with the resto occupying the entire fifth floor), you are immediately transported into… a rustic garden/a completely different world.

Almost everything here is made from wood – at least most of the tables and the benches, the footstools and the tall stools, et cetera. And then scattered here and there are traditional artworks – e.g. wooden carvings, driftwoods, et cetera.

The resto has various “portions” – e.g. there’s the seating area near the art museum, there’s the seating area near the kitchen, there’s the seating area that’s accessible by climbing wooden stairs, and there’s the seating area that can be accessed by a short hanging bridge. The last two areas are beside the windows overlooking downtown Baguio, so they are faves of most visitors…

The overall feel of the place isn’t the sole attraction here (it’s like being transported elsewhere, even though you know you’re in the middle of Baguio City). Instead – say, the orders are taking so long – you can saunter at the mini-garden, complete with a pond with lazy fishes; or drop by the small-ish art museum that holds some of the works of Baguio artist Victor Oteyza, who is credited for helping pioneer Philippine Modern Art.

For such a “small” place, there are some joys to be had here, indeed.

WHY NOT GO THERE

However, as this is – mainly – a restaurant, the gastronomic offerings of the place… disappoint.

I suppose the tattered menus should have served as a warning – they looked over-used not necessarily because so many people have tried them, but because they have been neglected. Check out those masking tapes used to cover food that are no longer being served – they look, in a word, tacky.

Yes, I’d say the resto has a way with words. Cesar Asar (P120) does sound better than “Caesar Salad”, even if the contents are the same. And so does Anak ng Putanesca (P130), though it’s really just pasta with putanesca sauce.

And yes, many of what’s there are affordable (if not exactly cheap) – e.g. tsokolate or kape for P65; crepes for P90 [combinations include Mansanas (apple), Super Sosy (stuffed with peaches), and Saging at Mani Love Affair (stuffed with banana and peanut butter);

Taste-wise, however, I was underwhelmed.

The ordered Kabute (P130) pasta did not at all taste of mushroom. The Sili Omelet (P80) was not even spicy (sili, for those who do not know, is chili). The Talong Parmigiana (breaded eggplant over whole wheat bread; P135) had too much breading.

Forget, too, the promise of the freshies…

And don’t get me started on the menu items that weren’t available…

UNIQUENESS WITH LIMITS…

Maybe I just happened to be there on an off-day? Perhaps…

After all, and let’s be honest here, don’t get me wrong: Oh My Gulay! has its appeal.

That’s if you want to go to a place that’s… peculiar, without having to leave the downtown area of Baguio City, then this place is definitely worth checking. After all, in this city where big businesses are oh-so-willing to chop off old trees so they can build parking lots, even a mini-garden right in the middle of the city should attract…

But if you demand more from the places you visit, then this may disappoint. And if you still want to visit, at least be warned. Here, you can fill the eyes/heart with the beauty that’s there; but not necessarily your tummy…

Open daily from 11.00AM to 9.00PM, Oh My Gulay! is located at 5/F La Azoteca Bldg., Session Rd., Baguio City. For more information, call (+63 74) 446-0108, or visit the resto’s Facebook page.

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