|1st Colonial Grill branch in Daraga|
After our tiring ATV ride to the base of Mayon Volcano, our media group headed to the nearby 1st Colonial Grill in Daraga for lunch. Any visit to the Bicol Region is never complete without dining at this restaurant. Here, we got sampler of their delicious and very affordable food, dining at their second floor function room which is used for small private functions or meetings and can accommodate around 20 people.
Opened on April 25, 2004, it was born from couple Mr. Elmer Boy Aspe and his wife Dra. Rowena Aspe’s love for Bicol and its rich culinary traditions. It was first located in a structure in Bicol built during the American occupation, thus the name of the restaurant. Using homemade family heirloom recipes from Elmer’s grandmother, it makes the food all the more delicious and tells a lot about how Bicol cuisine has fared through the years.
|Tinutong na Manok|
Since its launch 12 years ago, it has gained numerous awards and recognitions from different culinary circles and government awarding bodies. In 2013, 1st Colonial Grill was awarded “Albay’s Best Seal of Excellence,” “Paborito ng Bayan Award” during the Karangahan Festival, and awarded a citation by the local government as Best Restaurant in Albay. In 2016, it was awarded the Choose Philippine’s “Best Panghimagas,” its most prestigious award of all.
The fare for lunch was Halaan Soup for starters followed by Tinapa Fried Rice, rice topped with salted red egg, tinapa flakes and matched with tomatoes and manggang hilaw (green mango). Bicolanos are fond of using gata (coconut milk) when cooking, incorporating it in their classic dishes. For the main course, we were served Laing (a Bicolano dish with taro leaves and coconut milk for its base) and Tinutungang Manok (a Bicolano chicken dish with chicken stewed in coconut cream extracted from slightly scorched or toasted coconut milk that infuses a distinct smoky flavor), a local favorite and one of Albay’s culinary jewels.
Other items on its menu include Grilled Mussels, Pork Sisig, Buko Chopseuy, Crispy na Pata, Bicol Express and Kandingga, Five-Spice Grilled Chicken, Pancit Guisado, Siopao, Bang-Col, Kalamares, Sinigang na Baboy, Bicol’s version of Bopis, but spicier and more flavorful.
Apart from their authentic Bicolano dishes, 1st Colonial Grill has also left a lasting impression and was placed on the food map of the Philippines by their unique ice cream flavors, its “Bicol’s Kakaibang Ice Cream” line - Malunggay (vegetable leaf), Melon, Coffee, Bailey, Salabat (ginger), Tinutong na Bigas (burnt rice), Gabi (taro), Pili, Kamote (sweet potato), Mais (corn), Vanilla, Kalabasa (squash), Pipino (cucumber), Cacao, etc.
The signature sili (chili) flavored ice cream is one of the restaurant’s bestsellers and most popular flavor. It comes in three different levels (1 to 3) of spiciness, with the Volcano level, the hottest of all. In 2010, when the Amazing Race Asia show was filmed in Bicol, the sili ice cream was featured to test if the contenders can stand its piquancy. This makes the restaurant all the more worth visiting.
1st Colonial Grill: Aspe Bldg., Jose P. Rizal St., Brgy. Sagpon, 4501 Daraga, Albay. Tel: (052) 483-1212.