July 16, 2019

Sammy's - A Must-Visit Hidden Gem in Cainta

Whenever I tell people where I’m from or where I live, most often than not I get a response of “That’s so far!” or I heard traffic is bad in that area” or “You probably should transfer near the city.” Yeah, sure, those things are true, but I always give out a rebuttal in the lines of: “I’m already so used to it (the traffic)”. I have lived in this part of Manila/Rizal half of my life. Also, here in the East side, I’m proud to say that we get the best of both worlds.

Best of both worlds, meaning we live on the outskirts of the city, I even sometimes joke around “the suburbs of Cainta/Pasig”, I mean on a whim, we can go to the city (and be city people) and also that we can live some sort of “provincial” kind of life. We live in communities and still enjoy nature still. Unlike if you live in the city, all you see is concrete and skyscrapers.

As you go a little further East, what will greet you are mostly greenery: mountains, falls, rivers, mountains and all that nature encompasses. There are so many hidden gems around here like the Pililla windmills, Talim Island, Masungi Georeserve, et al. Also, you can find no scarcity of places to satisfy your search for awesome gastronomic adventures that is paired with nature here in this side of the Philippines.

Like I said a while back, I have been living in this area for half of my life (I was born and I grew up in downtown Pasig) but I’m going to be honest, it is only lately that I am exploring and discovering what the East has to offer. As most of the time I tend to veer towards BGC, Makati, QC or Ortigas for when I want to go out and eat out.

The East will surely surprise you with all of its hidden gems and that includes restaurants. And guess what I’ve discovered one just this weekend, which I am way too excited for of you guys to learn about: Sammy’s Restaurant tucked inside one of the villages in Valley Golf, Cainta, Rizal.

Why I have never heard of Sammy’s before our visit is likely due to the fact that it is a fairly new restaurant and that just like some of the other restos in this area, this place is by-reservation. I’m like wow! Can you believe that it’s just literally 10-15 minutes from where I live?! But before anything else, let’s get into how Sammy’s came about.

When I went to Sammy’s together with my foodie friends, we were able to talk to the owners, husband and wife: Chef Sammy and Dorothy Isidro. I guess it’s safe to say that this venture is their passion project and is very close to their hearts and literally their home (the place by the way is just adjacent to their actual house). The Isidro’s spent 17 and half years of their lives in and around Indonesia as professional show band singers and then for Hotel Mulia Senayan Jakarta. While doing that, Sammy decided to take action on his other passion: cooking, as he hails from a family of great cooks, thus enrolling himself at the Jakarta Culinary Center for a Diploma 1. On the other hand, Ms. Dorothy her skills as a photographer. After almost two decades of singing professionally in Jakarta, the couple decided to come home and finally settle their lives back here in the Philippines. They chose Cainta as the place of their forever home as Chef Sammy has his roots in nearby Marikina.

Sammy’s is accessible via car or commute. It’s easy to locate it and plus it’s Waze-able. Moreover, it’s also just a few meters away from the guard house of one of the inner villages inside Valley Golf. When we got there, we were warmly greeted by Chef Sammy and Ms. Dorothy and then we were ushered upstairs to the restaurant.  Yes, you get a hands-on ad personal treatment here as you don’t usually get being served and entertained by the owners of a restaurant; that is quite rare.

You have to climb a flight of stairs to get to the restaurant, that may sound daunting but when you finally enter the establishment the tiredness will slowly go away as I’m pretty sure you’ll be in so much awe as admire how pretty, relaxing, airy the place is. It’s like you’re in a different place altogether. 

The restaurant is very intimate as it can only sit up to 24 people. It’s also designed and decorated by the Isidros using DIY process. It has a rustic-industrial vibe, but the focal point here is the massive tempered glass windows that spans from end-to-end of one side of the restaurant. This lets in a lot of natural light for that dramatic atmosphere. Don’t worry, even though the resto uses a lot of natural light, it doesn’t’ get warm inside as their roof is triple insulated and they have two split-type air conditioners.  Plus, Valley Golf is a part of the mountainous side of Rizal Province making the weather cooler than the flatlands and cities nearby.

Sammy’s menu is greatly influenced by Indonesian cuisine mixed with other South East Asian & Western dishes and personal favorites of Chef Sammy and Ms. Dorothy. What I admire about Sammy’s offerings is that almost all the dishes in their menu has a backstory. Sammy’s cater to brunch, regular and tasting menus. We tried various dishes from their brunch and regular menu which includes the following:

Sammy’s Breakfast – this includes danggit, tocino, beef tapa, longganisa and omelette with fried rice. This is called Sammy’s Breakfast because this dish contains all of Chef Sammy’s favorite breakfast food. Living in Indonesia for 17 ½ years, he said he missed them so much, so whenever he is back in the Philippines these are what he craves for and eats. This is your big breakfast Filipino style. Oh, by the way, Chef Sammy’s wife, Dorothy also has her own D’s Breakfast, which includes her favorite breakfast items which on the other hand is made up of International/Western breakfast food. The serving size for this breakfast plates can feed two people, IMO. 

Nasi Goreng –This is considered as Indonesian comfort food. The rice is flavored with Kecap Manis a sweet-salty soy sauce imported by Chef Sammy all the way from Indonesia. It’s served with Chicken Satay, Krupuk and sunny side up egg. This dish is packed with flavor from the krupuk to the rice to the meat. The krupuk is also being imported from Indonesia as it is different from the kropek that we Pinoys are used to. 

Beef Konro – this is an Indonesia beef ribs dish originating from South Sulawesi and is very popular in the said country. Served with rice and is the best seller at the restaurant. But Chef Sammy created his ow spin to it has an ode to his history of living in Indonesia for almost 2 decades. These ribs are slow cooked for 3-4 hours served with hits black-brown sauce. The meat is so soft, tender and falls off the bones. The sauce tastes nothing like I’ve ever tried before, yet it’s obvious that it has rich mixture of spices. 

5-Hour Pork Belly with Bicol Laing – This is pork belly slow roasted for 5 hours in low heat and then served with legit Bicol Laing. The pork belly is a favorite of Chef Sammy’s family while the Laing is a tribute to Ms. Dorothy’s roots as a Bicolana. The meat is super tender and the fat portions almost melts in your mouth. Their version of the laing is more on the dry side yet still captures the taste of a good coconut-y laing.

Cuban Sandwich with 5-Hour Pork Belly – Crispy Cuban bread filled with slices of 5-Hour Pork Belly, cheese, pickles, tartar sauce and served with kamote (sweet potato) fries. You might ask, why is this included in their mostly Indonesian and SE Asian inspired menu? Well both Chef Sammy and Ms. Dorothy love this sandwich so much from the first time they tried this during one of their visits in Los Angeles California USA. Let me be honest, this was actually my favorite among all the dishes that we tried. I love how crispy, flavorful, light yet very filling this was. Not in the mood for a rice meal? Then this can be one of your alternatives. 

Hot Bicolano Tabrilla Chocolate Drink – this is a thick and rich chocolate drink made from tablea directly sourced from Ms. Dorothy’s relatives in Bicol. Perfect for any given morning or lazy afternoon. It’s different from any other local chocolate drink I’ve tried before because this was smooth and buttery compared to the others that still contains bits and pieces of the chocolate chunk. This was so good and was easily everybody’s favorite, we even had second servings because it was THAT GOOD. This is highly recommended!

Mango Crepes with Vanilla Sauce – Chef Sammy first tasted Mango Crepe when he worked as a "Singing Waiter" at La Scala Italian Restaurant in Makati, Philippines many years ago. Since then, he couldn't forget how heavenly that crepe was. And he dreamt that if he'll have his own restaurant, it'll surely be on his menu. With his homemade crepe & Philippine ripe mango (the best in the world), plus his own vanilla custard sauce with his homemade vanilla extract, this dessert is truly tempting. It looks so simple, yes, but the vanilla sauce here is personally being concocted by Chef Sammy using legit vanilla fruit and beans and definitely not the ones that are ready-made or store bought. I like this of course, since it’s mango! Haha! This dessert is light, airy but ultra-yummy! The crepe is smooth and silky as well. I’ve got nothing but love for this dessert.

Banana Bread French Toast - banana bread is Chef Sammy’s favorite while he was growing up. His recipe is inspired from someone he had watched online. He originally sells this as a regular banana bread and supplied them to employees at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. His version at Sammy’s Restaurant is made into the likeness of French Toast. For someone who like banana bread, I surely enjoyed this one and I think it’s a perfect pair with their Tabrilla chocolate drink. By the way they sell this banana bread via their Instagram account: instagram.com/sammys_cookin which is dedicated for Chef Sammy’s bread and pastries offerings.

Martabak Manis - this is a very popular sweet treat in Indonesia and everyone there loves Martabak Manis. It’s a very pancake with the traditional filling like chocolate sprinkle, crush peanut, sesame seed, condense milk combine in one or cheese and condense milk. Ms. Dorothy told us that it is very tricky to crate as this should have tiny hollows in it. They tried using a regular baking pan to create this but it didn’t quite looked like the ones they had in Indonesia so they got a legit Martabak Manis pan shipped all the way from Jakarta. This is more like a snack than a dessert for me because it was totally heavy on the tummy. Also a good pairing with their Hot Bicolano Tabrilla Chocolate Drink.

Fresh Fruit Shakes – as added refreshments, we also drink their fresh ripe mango shake and banana milk shake.

I am so in love with the Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling (I’ve always wanted some for my apartment). Also, I don’t usually take photos of restrooms of restaurants, but here at Sammy’s I have to make an exception, as inside of their CR you would find interesting fixtures like a kawali (huge stir-frying pan) made into a sink and a couple of sandok (laddles) made into a wall lighting features. 

The restaurant is open Tuesdays to Saturdays for breakfast from 7:00 am to 11:30 am and for dinner from 7:00 pm to 10:30pm, and on Sundays for breakfast only from 7:00 am to 11:30 am. Usually, as a treat, the couple sing a few songs to serenade their guests during dinner.

They also hold intimate dining events during Valentines and other special occasions. It’s perfect for any romantic date or just some private get togethers with family and friends. Now you don’t have to go all the way to Tagaytay or Baguio for such a lovely dining experience. 

14 Raspberry Bend Street
Valley View Executive Subdivision
Phase 3, Cainta, Rizal
Contact Nos: 09391483960
For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Sammy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

post signature
Follow Me:  Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog