It has become such a struggle for me to justify going to Tagaytay thanks to the traffic these days. Sobrang traffic na sa Tagaytay! But when my family and some family friends planned a brief trip recently, I was propelled by the idea of eating somewhere awesome. On my list was a return trip to Tsokolateria, so I pretty much pushed for us to have a meal here. I first visited Tsokolateria more than eight months ago, but I wasn’t able to write about how impressed I was back then.
My experience this time around began a bit shakier than the first one. I suppose it was because of the All Saint’s Day holiday that the place was packed. And although being busy was understandable, I didn’t like that we had to repeatedly ask the staff for menus. When it didn’t arrive, I took it upon myself to just grab the one I spotted sitting on the counter. Thankfully when we decided to order before being seated, there was at least someone who quickly responded.
We were finally seated after what felt like 30 minutes but our orders still took about 10 minutes to come out. I took the time photographing the al fresco area of Tsokolateria; marveling at the specific touches and details on the walls and on the furniture. The place gives off a summery relaxed feeling, but at the same time it has an old-world charm. The vibe is a tamer version of Pamana, which is understandable since this restaurant belongs to the same group led by Happy Ongpauco-Tiu.
Tsokolateria is located in The Boutique Bed and Breakfast, sharing a location with The Original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que. You can order from both menus at the same time, but you will be billed for them separately.
This set-up provides something for everyone, because sometimes people prefer familiar dishes like BBQ ribs rather than the more artisanal approach by Tsokolateria. Check out the combination of orders we ended up with, starting with what we ordered from The Original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que menu.
BBQ Platter with Original Hawaiian BBQ Sauce (Php 1,120) 🌟
A platter of grilled shrimp, pork, chicken, and fish barbecue, as well as BBQ mussels on a stick. Served with grilled corn, pineapple, mango, and oranges.
This is literally THE perfect platter for a group that wants to get a little bit of BBQ everything. The Original Hawaiian BBQ Sauce, which everything on this platter is liberally brushed with, is a combination of sweet, smoky delight, with a bright flavor that I am guessing comes from pineapple. It’s the sort of sauce you will want to slather on EVERYTHING.
It helps that all the meats on the platter were well-cooked. The fish was a little dry though. I loved the lightly grilled fruits!
Bare-licious Baby Back Ribs (Php 1,060 for large order)
Smoky tender grilled ribs served with the sauce on the side instead of drizzled all over.
This version is more of a classic grilled baby back rib with the sauce on the side. The meat is tender, with a smoky flavor that goes well with all the side veggies. Once you pour on The Original Hawaiian BBQ Sauce it starts tasting like the meat from the BBQ Platter above. We probably should’ve ordered the hot & spicy ribs instead of this for variety.
Nonetheless, I can’t argue with classic style ribs like this. Pick this option if you prefer having more control over how much sauce you eat with.
Waikiki’s Rootbeer Sesame Ribs (Php 1,140 for large order) 🌟
Rootbeer infused ribs grilled tender, and then sprinkled with sesame seeds.
This was the most fall-off-the-bone ribs we had among the ones we ordered, and I assume basting it with rootbeer has something to do with it. This one has a bit more sweetness thanks to the rootbeer, balanced by an earthy taste that only sesame can impart. If you’re looking for something finger-licking good, this one is your bet!
And now, we move on to the dishes we ordered from the Tsokolateria menu. Here I noticed they make an effort to include chocolate in whatever way was possible in their dishes, including the savory ones. I was looking forward to it!
Mushroom Risotto (Php 330)
Creamy risotto made with fresh cream and flavored with wild mushrooms, quezo de bola, and quezo puti, then drizzled with Tsoko vinaigrette.
This is a classic risotto with a pleasant, understated-in-some-bites truffle flavor. For this one, they added a Tsoko vinaigrette, and I assume the cacao nibs sprinkled on top are part of that. I didn’t really notice the nibs as I ate the risotto. Anyway, each risotto dish comes with a side of salad greens and bulalo broth. The bulalo broth is oily as heck, but my brother tells me it has good flavor. Not a fan of oily bulalo. I suggest you proceed with caution!
Aligue Risotto with Tsoko Shavings (Php 330)
Creamy risotto made using fresh gata, garlic, and aligue. Topeed with lemon wedges and white Tsoko shavings.
This underwhelmed me a bit. I mean, if you look at its gorgeous color, your mouth will start to water. It’s not as flavorful as I expected though. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have known this was aligue if no one told me. This was just all right for me. The amazing thing though about all the risotto they serve here in Tsokolateria is the sublime creamy consistency. Perhaps that’s what the gata does.
Black Risotto with a Dash of Tablea Powder (Php 380) 🌟
Creamy black ink risotto made using fresh gata, with squid and a dash of Davao’s tablea powder.
By far the best and most flavorful risotto dish among the three. I loved how the salty flavor of the squid ink was clear and yet not too overwhelming, playing along nicely with the gata. This was the one everyone was raving about, and I totally understood why! If you had to pick just one risotto among the three, for me this is the one!
Calamansi Pancake Soufflé (Php 250) 🌟
A fluffy thick pancake flavored with calamansi, served with two types of honey.
This was a pleasant surprise! At a glance the cake is super simplistic, and yet it is incredibly fragrant and soft when you slice into it. It’s like a cakey soufflé, with a firmer body than the normal soufflé but still quite pillowy to the bite. If you drizzle on the calamansi-infused honey, this cake can really wake up your senses with its bright flavors. It’s also just rightly sweet, even drizzled with honey!
Tsoko Sili Martini (Php 250)
Gin mixed with a bittersweet chocolate. It also has a fiery kick.
This was interesting. Literally like an adult chocolate drink. Through the gin, you get a solid taste of bittersweet chocolate. It goes down rather nicely too. The heat doesn’t just come from the gin, but also a bit from the chili mixed in there. Love the idea of this!
Sili Labuyo Tsoko Blend (Php 160) 🌟
Handmade tablea house blend with a touch of sili that’s good for two.
Thanks to my fascination for traditional hot chocolate, I decided to order this chili-tsokolate blend to try. I have tried like Tsokolateria’s tsokolate-eh and -ah before, but the chilis add something interesting and warm to the experience. It is a bit reminiscent of Mexican Hot Chocolate, only it lacks the cinnamon punch. Whether or not you use the chili, it’s good hot chocolate!
There’s something to be said about my insistence in coming here to eat, and I was in fact happy that we ended up here in the end. I came to this restaurant with the full intention of writing about Tsokolateria only, but The Original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que rekindled my love for bbq dishes too so that’s something. The food is good in both restaurants. There wasn’t a single dish we ordered that I did not like. Of course the ones with the stars are the stand-out’s.
My biggest issue with this place is the slow service. They couldn’t even bring us menus while we sat at the waiting area, even though we asked already. Plus we ordered even before we were seated at a table, and yet our orders still took so long to come out. I get that they want to serve the dishes fresh, but wasn’t the entire point of ordering in advance so that we could get our food faster once we’re seated? I feel like they’re less conscious of timing. I mean, they served us our dessert FIRST.
I remember the first time I came here, the food also took a while to be served. I am not saying this to deter you from coming– just don’t expect to be able to eat immediately when you come here super hungry. Luckily, the food makes up for these annoyances. I’m also glad everybody left with a smile!
I’m still going to give this restaurant a high score even though I wasn’t super happy with the service. The food, although pricey, is to me worthy of a trip to Tagaytay. I also love that you get a two-in-one deal here. The Original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que gives off that backyard BBQ vibe with the fam, while Tsokolateria is like that new hip place around the corner serving creative stuff. The two restaurants couldn’t be more different, and yet they work oddly well together.
Can’t wait to go back and try other things, but it would be awesome if Tsokolateria opens here in Manila so I wouldn’t have to sit through the damn traffic lol. (Hawaiian BBQ already has a branch in QC.)
My rating: 9/10
Tsokolateria + The Original Hawaiian Bar-B-Que
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way and I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions shared are my own unless otherwise stated.