Ever since I booked our Puerto Princesa trip, I’ve been lurking around every nook and cranny of the World Wide Web to keep tabs of all the places to visit and restaurants to try.
Topping that list is KaLui, a local restaurant that won the hearts of locals and tourists alike. It’s so popular that hotels remind you as soon as you get in the hotel shuttle, as a matter of fact. Although the boyfriend was a bit hesitant since he’s not a big seafood fan, he gladly granted my request to try KaLui because he had no other choice. Kidding! 😀
On our first day in Palo Alto, we asked them if they could reserve a table for us the following night. They were really quick on their toes because we were out and about when I texted that instruction and they called me right away to confirm our time preference.
We booked during dinnertime and Palo Alto drove us there. Immediately after getting off the van, we knew all the fuss about KaLui was real because there were droves of people outside. Local tricycles were also lined up outside perhaps to take advantage of the throngs of tourists dining inside.
The scene outside is such a startling difference from the busy and noisy street outside. It had a very zen-like, garden atmosphere with a whole bevy of space dedicated to plants, flowers, mini statues, benches and whatnot. When we walked up to the man in charge of ushering guests to their tables, a pair ahead of us didn’t make a reservation so they had to wait it out. Lucky for us though, we had a table waiting for us.
Similar to Palo Alto’s no-shoe rule, all diners have to deposit their shoes in a cabinet by the waiting area. Walking through the all-wood restaurant was pretty amazing because of the lighting, the music softly playing in the background and the staff’s quick-but-quiet service.
The restaurant’s huge and spacious! It doesn’t have air-conditioning though, which we think would be terrible for lunchtime diners (they have tons of electric fans though). But since we were there for dinner and the weather was pretty wonky, we enjoyed a cool and breezy night.
The menu’s pretty condense and straightforward. We chose the KaLui Special of the Day, a set which insanely only costs Php395! It’s good for two people already, the menu says. And now, the food porn photos:
We both loved this soup! It’s a really really thin soup–almost watery–but it had a lot of flavor to it. We wish it arrived in a bigger bowl. Hehe.
The prawns were fresh and yummy but it was so bitin! There were only two pieces served so B and I only had a piece each, which was sad.
I never expected I would eat seaweed in my life because they look so yucky in real life, but I did have a few mouthfuls of this and didn’t like it. See the little bulbs? It sort of pops in your mouth when you bite on it, which didn’t felt good on the tongue. I found it odd, weird. Clearly seaweed is an acquired dish–one that we weren’t interested in signing up for. 😀
If you love any dish that’s swimming in coconut milk, this dish is right up your alley. The broth itself is yummy, with a gorgeous flavor profile and wonderful aroma to boot. The fish lollipops (as I liked to call it that night) were cooked really well. Plus, the presentation is such a beauty too. We love the stalks, though we didn’t dare eat it because I wasn’t sure what they were. Perhaps celery?
These are eggplant strips fried in what tasted like tempura batter. This wasn’t too amazing though. Good ol’ tortang talong actually tasted better.
I love how they served this fish steak–right off the pan! We were quietly eating our food when the chef (presumably) approached our table and placed a steak on each of our plates. It was scalding hot and still sizzling. 😀
After our plates have been cleared, we waited for the fullness to settle before leaving the restaurant. Our van was also scheduled to pick us up at 9PM, an hour after we arrived. To our surprise however, we were served this plate of mixed fruits for dessert. It was served in half of a coconut shell and drizzled with brown sugar.
If you notice, most of our photos are a wee darker than normal. It’s because we were afraid of disturbing other diners if we used my camera’s flash. That’s why we used B’s phone instead, and used another phone as a faux spotlight. 😀
It’s pretty insane how dinner (KaLui Special Set of the Day + 2 fruit shakes) didn’t cost us a thousand pesos. In Manila, Php395 will pretty much only cover one dish. I wish costs in the province is the same as in Manila. :s We walked around KaLui after we finished dessert and paid for everything:
When the Palo Alto driver arrived, we immediately chatted him up and told him how we loved KaLui. It really was such a nice and memorable restaurant. A bunch of friends are going to Puerto Princesa months from now so I told them that a visit here is a must. 🙂
Now I know why people rave about KaLui–it’s such a precious casual dining restaurant that doesn’t make an effort to overcompensate. Their food is simple, humble and all homegrown. A definite tourist must, I can’t wait to dine here again come our next Palawan trip. 🙂
KaLui is right along Rizal Avenue. Just as their sign states, they’re better by reservation so don’t forget to call them a day ahead! 🙂