En route to Baguio, you have got to stop and eat at Isdaan Floating Restaurant, if not for the food, then for the interesting nature of the place.
The first time I wrote about Isdaan, I did a daytrip (balikan) road trip with Jasper to Baguio last year where we went to Baguio and back to Manila in one day. Back then, we passed the place on the way back. This trip was a little shorter.
On this day, I invited a friend of mine to lunch… in Tarlac. Yes… in Tarlac! I wanted to show him this fascinating restaurant, not so much for the food but for the place itself. We got there in just two hours. We left Manila at around 9:30am and got to Isdaan at around 11:24am. We went via NLEX then SCTEX. Isdaan in Gerona is just a few minutes from the SCTEX exit (at the end of the road) by the time you get on McArthur Highway heading for Baguio.
View Gerona, Tarlac in a larger map
Just note that Gerona is somewhere between Tarlac City and Paniqui. You will see Isdaan on the left.
You almost can’t miss it. Aside from the huge sign, you will see some enormous statues.
There is ample parking space, but the place does fill up.
What strikes me as fascinating are the huge statues all over the place. There is no restaurant (or theme park) in the Philippines like this. Food aside, the place is a visual sensation. Definitely a perfect place for photographers to get their fill.
As you walk in, you get to wonder what the inspiration of the place is. To a certain degree it kid of reminds me of Thailand. Not in an authentic sense, but the huge statues of monkeys and Buddhas give you that sense.
As we walked in, a hostess guided us to our table. And as we walked along the kawayan corridors, we could tempted by some stuff cooking away…
The name “Isdaan Floating Restaurant” is quite deceptive. It really isn’t floating. You have the appearance of floating huts (It’s actually a cement structure with pools and fountains). But I may say, it is quite a quality piece of work.
We placed our order, but I will put the discussion on food and what we ate later on in this blog. For now, let us concentrate on the place first.
These gigantic monkey statues take a humorous twist on “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”
As I said. The "kinda-Thai” theme was everywhere…
Thai Budhas everywhere.
But every now and then, there are some décor which seem out of place…
Iron Man? Really?
The place had some “activities.” Kids could rent bikes.
Most blog posts on Isaan mention the Tacsiyapo Wall. Personally, this isn’t a big thing. But it is interesting to note. What it is is a wall where you can vent your frustrations by throwing your choice of plates (or even TVs) at the wall.
In Kapampangan (by the way, I am of pure Kapampangan decent) “Tacsiyapo” is an all purpose term which could be used to express anger and even amusement. Though in this context, I guess it is the former which is used. It’s meaning is similar to the variuos usage of “Putang Ina”… in the proper intonation could be used for anger, frustration, surprise, amusement, humor, and a few other emotions.
Ok, I might as well discuss the food. Some blogs that discuss Isdaan had some negative comments on the food. Let me start by saying that Isdaan is part of the Barrio Fiesta Restaurant Group. You could tell by the signages of various Barrio Fiesta establishments all over the place. That said, the menu is made of food you can get at these establishments.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But at the same time, don’t expect some particularly unique food. Taste is relative. For the food we ordered we were very happy.
Here is what we ordered:
Tinupig Lechon Manok. It’s a very tasty version of roasted chicken. It’s one of their specialties and I highly recommend this.
Tacsiyapong Tilapaia. Our waiter recommended a number of “Tacsiyapo” dishes. We chose the Tilapia. It’s kind of a steamed version. Very spicy. Very good!
And finally… Bicol Express. Cooked perfectly. With that great spicy kick.
And our steamed rice cooked and serve in a little rice pot.
And of course our drinks. Mango Shake (mine) and an Iced Tea (Chris’)
The food was great. And considering we were just two. Was quite a lot. I took home the left over chicken and Bicol express.
And so after lunch… it was time to make our way back to Manila.
… but we decided to make a stop in Angeles City… but that is another post.
If you ever pass this way en route to Baguio or perhaps La Union or Ilocos Sur, you MUST stop here.