The Flavors of Old Baguio

My face lit up when A announced that “Mitos recently opened her own restaurant”, and all I could think of was the Fabada she served at her home one time we were in Baguio, that was last year.  Needless to say, we had to go that very evening.  We went back the next day with more friends in tow.  And I’ve been back one more time since then.

Mitos is Mitos Benitez-Yñiquez and her now famous restaurant is called Hill Station.  She, for the longest time, managed her family’s renowned Mario’s Restaurant in Baguio.  Her new restaurant is within Casa Vallejo, the boutique hotel built in 1909, renovated and open again for business along Upper Session.

Inspired by American colonial architecture, the main dining area has high ceiling, big French windows and wooden floors.  It also has 2 elegant staircases that lead to the hotel. Warm and cozy that makes you want to linger.

The food celebrates the flavors of Old Baguio, one of the last hill stations of Southeast Asia.  The menu offers a variety of slow-cooked hearty meals.  Lots of stews and some really good curry dishes.  Slow-cooked meals somehow evoke a sense of comfort and complement it with the homey, cozy atmosphere, who wants to go anywhere else?

Yes we spent the afternoon in a cozy corner of the restaurant reading, chatting and enjoying our cake and coffee until it was time for dinner.

Everything or almost everything is homemade — from the breads to the pastries to their ice cream.  As you enter from the bar you will see a shelf of potteries on sale mostly by famed potter, Lanelle Abueva and the Sagada Potters.  Along with it are homemade goodies by Mitos herself, for sale as well– salad dressings, salsa monja, salsa brave, granola, bihod, some jams… if I could bring them all home, I would.

I couldn’t stop raving about Hill Station to my friends in Manila hence the trip to Baguio early this year.  We got a room at Casa Vallejo and spent most of our time there – more on this on my next post.  We also wanted to try everything on their menu, which suffices to say is impossible for 3 people spending only a weekend there.  But with what we are able to cover, here are our favorites:

Tuna Tataki with Wasabi Mayo

Isn’t it obvious?  So good it was gone before I knew it.  Take my word for it… go for this.  The tuna seared very briefly then sliced thinly and seasoned with freshly cracked pepper that gave the tuna a nice kick.  Dipped in wasabi mayo… absolutely heaven.  A great appetizer just before we moved on to the main dining hall.

Home-made bread with Moroccan spice blend and olive oil

First I must say that this spice blend is brilliant.  What a way to whet one’s appetite.  The thing is, you need to control yourself lest you regret it once the main entrée arrives.

Left to right:  Grilled Shiitake and Grilled Tomatoes; Hill Station Green Garden

Hill Station Green Garden — mixed greens, tomatoes, blueberries, white cheese, caramelized walnuts and topped with a sesame-miso dressing.  What’s not to like about this salad?  Great combination and I’m always a sucker for miso or sesame dressings… this was an obvious choice.

Grilled Shiitake and Grilled Tomatoes — we had this over lunch the next day.  It was on their list of Specials.  A really nice blend of ingredients.  Shiitake with all the flavors and the tomatoes grilled and slightly caramelized… a winner.

Clockwise:  Cambodian Coriander and Garlic Chicken; Crispy Duck Flakes; Indian Lamb Curry; Steak and Prawns Peri-Peri

Cambodian Coriander and Garlic Chicken — marinated overnight and charbroiled.  Yum!

Crispy Duck Flakes — had this on my first visit and I highly recommend.  The duck was simmered for hours and then flaked and fried resulting to a dish full of flavor.  And to add to this flavor is laing sa gata.  Unforgettable.

Indian Lamb Curry —  my friend AH was all smiles when he had his first mouthful of this gorgeous curry dish.  I tried a mouthful too and I agree with his smile.  The lamb was so tender and the curry rich and tasty.  A scrumptious dish that epitomizes slow-cooking.

Steak & Prawns Peri-Peri — it had me at Peri-Peri, a famed South African dish that I enjoy a lot.  Was not disappointed.

Left- right:  Tortilla de Patatas and Chorizo Bilbao; French Toast

French Toast — made from home-made whole wheat bread, of course I must have this.

Tortilla de Patatas and Chorizo Bilbao — saving the best for last, I instantly fell in love with this tortilla.  It raised my love for anything chorizo to the next level.  A dish of eggs, potatoes and good quality chorizo bilbao, have it with the baguette and the salsa brava con chorizo bilbao… wicked!  Wanted to have more than just a few bites, unfortunately it was not mine to do so.  Makes me want to go back to enjoy again, this time I’ll order the dish.

Hill Station is worth a trip to Baguio, I guarantee.  And while there, look out for a bubbly lady with a hearty laugh, that’s Mitos.

Useful Info:

Hill Station
At Casa Vallejo
Upper Session Road,
Baguio City
Contact No.:  (074) 424-2734, 423-9100 or 423-9558

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