Chef Tatung brings his childhood, his travels, and his many other experiences to his home-away-from-home in Maginhawa.
Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou probably summed up Talisay the Garden Café best: it reflects “our family’s memories of growing up in Talisay, Cebu.” He spoke of Sunday feasts made from scratch, and is something different from what everyone else in Talisay was having when he lived there.
The cool thing about this Talisay is that it feels like home—or rather, a cross between a modern home with a garden and a fine dining restaurant in the city.
Located in Diliman’s famous Maginhawa Street, Talisay the Garden Café was once a typical 60’s suburban Manila home: a simple one- or two-storey house with a garden that would be considered massive by today’s standards.
Taking this as their canvas, Chef Myke and his brother Jomi turned the rundown house into what I can only describe as a cross between a pseudo glasshouse with a garden and a modern fine-dining resto. Most of the restaurant has glass for walls, which lets you see their garden in its entirety.
White dominates the space, while paintings picked out by both Chef Tatung and Jomi accentuate the walls. The entrance is unassuming—like walking towards a friend’s house—though the cursive sign saying “Talisay” tells you you’ll be in for a treat.
Food at Talisay is Filipino regional cuisine made simple. No gimmicks like wildcard ingredients or elaborate presentations; just clean plating of classic Filipino fares like their paella mixta, a Filipino-style paella made with organic tinawon rice with sofrito and seafood stock topped with chicken, seafood, and chorizo.
They also serve a mean chicken pianggang, a dish made by the Tausugs for special occasions. It’s grilled chicken in a black curry sauce with a blend of spices and char-burned coconut meat that we suggest you call ahead of time to order if you want a taste.
The best thing about their menu, apart from its simplicity, is that you’re not restricted to specific pairings. You can mix and match dishes from their menu without fear of flavors clashing with each other. You’ll also be glad to know everything is made in-house, including their popular sourdough bread (yes, they bake their own bread).
You have a selection of fresh fruit shakes (ripe mango, green mango, or watermelon), a traditional sago’t gulaman, or freshly-made four seasons juice made with seasonal fruits. For me, I’d like another glass of their refreshing Talisay Lemonada (citrus juice with lemon, lime, and calamansi infused with fresh mint and basil).
Get there. Ride a bus bound for Commonwealth and asked to be dropped off at the National Housing Authority or Maharlika Street. Alternatively, you can take the MRT to Quezon Avenue Station and ride a jeep headed for UP Diliman before getting off at Maharlika Street. Walk along Maharlika until you see a shed where tricycles are parked. Hop on one and tell them to drop you off at 44 Maginhawa Street.