Sagada Food Trip – Salt & Pepper Diner, Bana Cafe and Haddeku Cafe

One of the most unexpected things that happened to us in Sagada involves a dog rescue of a mutt-pit bull mix named Lucky. Lucky was not so lucky as he skipped his way down a deep ravine on a rainy, cold night. He’s one of the doggy residents of the Salt & Pepper Diner, which was on our to-eat list. But first, what happened to un-Lucky.

Lucky dog of Sagada
Lucky dog of Sagada

The three of us headed out of our inn with me completely protected by a cheap, disposable, yellow raincoat (Thanks Marye!). We quickly learned that while renting an attic in an isolated inn would do wonders for sleeping and enjoying pristine views, it’s quite another story when you’re hungry at night and the kitchen’s closed. We headed out in pouring rain and this strange dog decided to follow us. I never met a dog so intent on keeping strangers company, it was willing to go out in the rain. We bought our provisions — tuna, bread, Lucky Me and beers from a nearby Sari-Sari store as the other option would be to walk all the way to the town which was about 5 or so km away.

The dog was still following us as we headed back to the inn. He looked like he was having a great time skipping along the barrier that lined the ravine when Rox said, “Oh my God, the dog fell!” Fortunately, it was a grassy ravine and dog wasn’t hurt. Ten went to the inn to call for help. Rox wouldn’t leave the dog alone and I couldn’t leave her alone so there we were at night in the cold, oh so cold rain trying to calm a dog down. I know it’s selfish but I couldn’t help thinking, “I could’ve been all warm and dry drinking beer by now if not for this stupid dog!”

Finally, someone came along and yes, he confirmed the dog was Lucky, whose owner was in the inn. He left us to call reinforcements and we were alone again. The dog managed to find a higher slope, fortunately. We can still barely reach him so I said, “Fuck it” and laid on my stomach to reach his collar. As I grabbed it he was thanking me profusely by licking my hand. Rox was able to pull the mutt over the  wall and he was all happy and skippy again. After our visit to his home at Salt & Pepper, he stalked us again and won’t leave. We tiptoed away when we saw him distracted with other dogs. We found his owners had to fetch him at the municipal hall!

Salt and Pepper Diner, Sagada
Salt and Pepper Diner

The Salt & Pepper diner was deserted. Almost every tourist, I think were eating at the Yoghurt House. We thought they were closed but the owner recognized us as Lucky’s rescuers so we were allowed in.  We ordered their Fruity Cabbage Salad, which sound like something I’ve never tried before. It’s sweet and sour with a taste of something fermented. I think it’s the vinegar? I would’ve loved this salad if not for the amount of dressing. On the picture it doesn’t look it but the cabbages were practically swimming in the dressing. Instead of a dressing that lightly coats the veggies, it was more sabaw (soupy).

Fruity Cabbage Salad
Fruity Cabbage Salad

I finally made the right order with my Pork Sinarabsab with a side of Baked Baby Potatoes. I remembered that when you’re new to a restaurant, you can ask the waiter what’s the house special or what would he or she order if they were in the restaurant for the first time. Well the answer here is Sinarabsab, an Ilocano recipe that looked like kilawin but is actually grilled pork with lots and lots of onions and ginger.

Pork Sinarabsab with Baked Potatoes
Pork Sinarabsab with Baked Baby Potatoes

Ten and Rox ordered the Sinarabsab too but with rice instead of potatoes. It didn’t come with the sizzling plate though.

Salt and Pepper is a bit on the expensive side, much like Yoghurt House. The salad was Php 100, the sinarabsab was Php 140 to Php 180 (I think… Forgot but definitely not more than Php200).

Like most of all the restaurants in Sagada, they were once just ordinary houses that expanded as visitors came more and more every year. As Sagada is situated in the mountains, seafood is rare on the menu so don’t expect to be cracking crabs and slurping oysters anytime soon.

Salt & Pepper Menu
Salt & Pepper Menu

Oh and did I mention Lucky’s co-host in Salt & Pepper’s welcoming committee? This fearsome-looking beast goes by the name…Tinkerbell! And don’t make the mistake of calling her Tinky! Seriously…don’t.

Tinkerbell the Pitbull
Tinkerbell the Pitbull

 

Bana Cafe is famous for serving Kopi Luwak a.k.a. civet coffee a.k.a. the most expensive coffee in the world. Also, the most expensive shit in the world as the coffee beans came from the civet’s cat’s … well … shit. Apparently, this wild cat’s one picky eater. It only eats the most ripest coffee beans. I’m thinking can’t they just stalk the cat and just the moment, when the cat’s putting the bean into its mouth, just snatch it? Just sayin’…

Bana Cafe
Bana Cafe

Well, when Ten saw the price of Php200/ cup, drinking kopi luwa seemed much overrated. They instead opted for some regular brewed coffee. We ordered their pancakes, which had been much lauded in the interwebs. Ten ordered the plain one, I ordered the one with carrots and raisins (although I guess they ran out of raisins) and Rox, ordered the one with banana. The best pancake was the oen with a whole banana. All were served with Sagada honey, a lightly citrus-y honey that also complemented my mountain tea.

Pancake
Pancake

For our last day, we had a little trouble because almost all the restaurants even Yoghurt House weren’t open yet (they open 9:00 am). We eneded up going to this Haddeku Cafe which was not mentioned in any Sagada review sites I’ve visited.

Haddeku Cafe
Haddeku Cafe

Rustic, it certainly was. It’s probably a newly-opened cafe as I was poking around searching for the bathroom, I realized I was looking at a bedroom! The kids were playing all around the small dining area. I felt like we were guests in somebody’s home instead of a cafe. Only a Japanese couple were the other customers.

Haddeku Cafe Facade
Haddeku Cafe Facade

We ordered the same breakfast of hotdogs, ham, egg, and fried rice. We were really hungry and I didn’t really mind the expensive price tag (Php 140 w/ coffee). Was the hotdog even Purefoods Tender Juicy? I thought it tasted more like Vida or CDO?

Expensive Breakfast
Expensive Breakfast

There were a lot of foodie things we missed but as the locals said, “That’s good! It means you have a lot more reasons to come back to Sagada!” Come back? Will do! ASAP!

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