Tuesday, May 9, 2017

DINING | Modern fusion cuisine at KAYU: Kitchen + Bar (Cebu)

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 01
A sampling of KAYU's modern fusion cuisine.

Lechon would probably be top of mind for many people when visiting Cebu, and no one can fault them because the place certainly has the best-tasting lechon (roast pig) in the country. Be it in Talisay, Carcar, or dining in at the Vito Selma-designed Rico's Lechon Acacia branch, lechon will always be a pleasure. But Cebu is more than that, and there are a lot of noteworthy restaurants to try in the city, restaurants with no lechon on the menu.

On my last trip there we tried KAYU: Kitchen + Bar at 32 Sanson by Rockwell. Here's a rundown of my experience.

Design and ambiance
KAYU is housed under a swanky bungalow that's said to be an old Aboitiz home along Sanson Street. It sits behind gated walls complete with a landscaped roundabout--yes, much like mansions of yore--nestled among old trees and lush foliage. There's a pool a few steps away and a cafe where we squeezed in dessert right before closing time.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 02
The bungalow that now houses KAYU, all lit up at night.

Though of course I haven't seen what the house looked like before, I don't think they altered much of the original design. In other words, they didn't mess with it, which is a good thing because the former abode already looks handsome as it is.

Glass windows surround the structure's rectangular layout, affording diners a nice garden view everywhere. Inside, a tasteful variety of lamps that hang from the ceiling bathe the whole place in warm light, accentuating the restaurant's hardwood furniture and lending the space a cozy atmosphere.

As for seating, there are tables for one, two, and long tables for big groups. There are also sections that can be closed out for functions and small events.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 03
Part of the receiving/waiting area.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 04
You gotta appreciate the hardwood furniture here. And my, look at those lamps! 

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 05
Long table for big groups.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 06
I love the lamps and lighting fixtures here.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 07
Diners get to see people in action in the kitchen.

The food
KAYU serves modern fusion cuisine, so the possibilities are endless in terms of which culinary elements to combine. Thankfully their menu is not overwhelming, with just under 30 items succinctly organized into appetizers, entrees, and desserts. There were just two of us, so we could only order so much.

Given the restaurant's ambiance, it's no surprise that the food here is on the pricier side--but still not extremely expensive in my opinion. Appetizers range from Php 270 to Php 380, while mains are capped at around Php 500, save for the steak and braised short rib, which hover around Php 1,000 to Php 1,400. Desserts, on the other hand, are priced between Php 185 to Php 240.

For starters we ordered their clam chowder (Php 380), a deconstructed beauty with the puree left unblemished right in the middle. Oddly enough there were no clams in this clam chowder, only scallops, but the dish was tasty nonetheless. Heck, even that pan de leche on the side was already a winner in itself!

We also tried chorizo and oysters (Php 290), four pieces of oyster baked with mozzarella and chorizo. Rich and full of flavor, I liked it. The chorizo sure did its trick.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 08
KAYU's deconstructed clam chowder.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 09
Chorizo and oysters.

We each got a different entree. Mine was called Pork, Pork, Pork (~Php 500+), which was not on the regular menu. It's pork cooked in three different ways, all sitting atop a bed of mushroom risotto. It's a sinfully rich dish, too rich in fact that I never got to finish it. Sure there was a dollop of some sweet and sour thingy in the risotto but it was still not enough to break the overwhelming richness of this triple pork dish.

Kwittiegirl, on the other hand, asked for pan-seared parrot fish (Php 490), which was craftily served on a rectangular plate together with some mushrooms, brown butter emulsion, and squid ink. The dish looked gorgeous. You'd think that this was a lighter dish because it was fish but it was surprisingly another medley of richness after richness. Yes, it was delicious, but there was just nothing to break the singular rich taste of this offering. Another unfinished order.

We skipped dessert because we wanted to try the cafe next door, although I was curious about the sizzling caramel bar. Some other time perhaps.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 10
Sinfully beautiful or beautifully sinful? This is Pork, Pork, Pork.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 11
Pan-seared parrot fish.

Service wasn't topnotch although I could see that our server was trying her best. I don't know if she was new but she certainly hasn't mastered the menu just yet. Maybe over time. But more than that, a couple of their other waitstaff were having a problem with my card and it took them forever. And because we were rushing to beat the next-door cafe's closing time, I ran out of patience and stormed my way to the cashier to settle everything.

On another note, the kitchen seemed fairly efficient as our orders didn't take long to arrive to our tables. That's a good thing of course.

halfwhiteboy - kayu kitchen + bar 12
By the way, KAYU or kayo, short for kalayo, is Cebuano for fire.

In hindsight
Except for that rather unpleasant end to our dining experience, KAYU: Kitchen + Bar was still worth our time. For one, I really liked the ambiance. Food presentation was also very good and although the dishes were mostly too rich for my liking, in all fairness they did taste good. I probably should just scrutinize the menu a little more next time so I could pick the right combination of appetizer and entree and avoid being overwhelmed. That or I would recommend coming as a group so you can share in each other's order.

Having said that, I could still see myself dining here again--whenever my next trip to Cebu would be. Besides, I still haven't tried their desserts.

KAYU: Kitchen + Bar is located inside 32 Sanson by Rockwell in Lahug, Cebu City. Ask your driver to take you inside the gate. But since it's not the most popular restaurant in town, most cab drivers may not know where it is--for now at least. So your best bet is Waze or Google Maps.



  1. Asalam-O-Alaiakum! How are you all? Well, I must say that the services were really good, but the guidance was not as great as it should be. We had some issue in Makkah, when we were doing Tawaf, due to the misguidance of the staff members, although the other things were really good. Umrah Express

  2. Delicious Food with great service!
    Thanks for sharing post along with pictures!
    Hajj 2017

  3. A very nice and informative post Thanks for sharing with us!
    Umrah Packages

  4. are presently ready to offer free or vigorously decreased transporting even on substantial bits of kitchen hardware like flame broils or fryers. mega diner flint mi menu


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...