Literally meaning “using your hands in the fishery” (or that’s just my wonky Tagalog-to-English working), Kamayan sa Palaisdaan (Palaisdaan for short) is also a place I grew up together with. One of my earliest experiences with the place was at age 3, where my dad told me that I just dropped into the water while they were busy talking with someone else. Wanted to go snorkeling with the tilapias, I guess.
Anyway! We always bring visitors here, and the place and its food has never failed to impress. It’s such a pleasant surprise that through all these years, Palaisdaan has managed to retain its beauty (largely built around the naturally abundant flora and fauna) and the quality of its food, which has never disappointed me through my 20 years of existence. Haha!
And oh, Palaisdaan has two branches, located just across each other. We call one the “old” one, the other the “new” one. They’re practically the same, just under different management. For clarification purposes, we went to the “old” one – the one who opened years before the “new” one. It has a simpler, quieter ambiance than the new one, which is decked out in a more modern way with souvenir shops and bars and other chuchu.
Off to pictures!
As you can see, the place is largely based around huts floating on bamboo rafts in the water. They’re actually quite stable (save for the very first one, which is very nausea-inducing shaky), and there’s plenty of tilapia and fat koi swimming around. And may I say, the air here is excellent. It doesn’t hurt that Palaisdaan is near Mount Banahaw, and is situated in a higher place than usual, so the fresh mountain air is definitely addicting. Even our visitors always notice how different the air is here.
As you wait for your orders, you’ll more often than not spot a man carrying a large bilao (circular straw basket) of fragrant, shiny squash rings like these. Locally called pilipit, hey taste like they’re fried (I’m not really sure if they are), and the taste comes in the form of caramelized brown sugar right on top of it. Anyway, this is a must-try whenever you visit Palaisdaan – not to mention that it serves as an excellent appetizer. We’ve been having this since I was a baby, our family is practically good friends with the vendor!
Our recent Manila visitors went crazy over this. Apparently, fern salad’s such a big deal because of its “rarity” and price, but us province people just shrug it off. A bundle of this is crazy cheap! So I would definitely recommend ordering this for your visitors. 🙂 Cheap and healthy! Adding sardines seems weird (haven’t tasted them with it myself), but others swear it improves the taste a lot.
(clockwise from upper left) GAAAAH sisig! I don’t know how to properly translate this into English, but it’s pork ears and other stuff sautéed, then cooked in an iron plate with butter. Filipinos love pairing this with beer, but my best bet is sisig + rice! Instant diet destructor, but I don’t care! :p The fish in coconut milk is called sinugnog, if I’m not mistaken. What gives it a distinctive flavor (aside from the fish being crazy fresh) is that it’s grilled first before being cooked together with the coconut milk and mustard leaves. Their grilled porkchop is another thing that’s soooo good with rice. Laing is another dish I can’t directly translate, but it can be described as taro leaves cooked in coconut milk. Obviously, we love us some coconut!
And there we have it! I was blessed to have bonded a little not only with our visitors (the tech head from CCF), but also with their son, who’s a home-schooled hyper but very polite kid. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the recent times, but I love meeting a kid with good manners that are sincerely manifested. This little kid was a gentleman, and that showed me not only how God was working in his life, but also how his parents took the time to spend time with him and teach him about these things, because that’s how God would have wanted them to do. Truly inspiring that there are still people like them around, amidst the spoiled brats I’ve been meeting recently. Haha!