Tagaytay is one of the places we go to when we want to get away from Manila. Even though the place is already getting busier every time we go up, seeing the Taal Volcano and knowing that such a beautiful creation is just a couple of hours away still remains a treat.
Being frequent visitors of Tagaytay, we already have our go-to food places. But recently, we discovered a gem that’s just a few minutes away from the public market. That’s when we stumbled upon The Wild Juan.
Owned by a young entrepreneur by the name of Thomas Murillo and together with Chef Marcial Balazo, both gentlemen have been busy creating dishes for The Wild Juan that are familiar yet innovative. From all the dishes we stuffed out faces with, one thing’s for sure— they know flavors very well. Allow us to show you why we said that.
We started with appetizers and first on the list was their Pulled Pork Adobo Bruschetta.
We love adobo so this dish wasn’t very hard to love too. The thing that pleasantly surprised us was the pineapple-chili cilantro purée drizzled over the salsa pipino (cucumber). The bruschetta suddenly became vibrant and refreshing! The flavors just exploded in our mouths that we found it impossible not to wipe out the entire plate. Had we not ordered other dishes, we would’ve ordered another serving of this!
Next on the list was their Caldereta Wings. If you’re a fan of Caldereta— a tomato-based dish with liver spread, cheese, potatoes, bell pepper, and carrots, we’re sure that you’ll warm up to their fried wings version. Not only were we able to taste the Caldereta flavor, we also felt a little heat which added personality to the dish. They even have a cheddar dip to go with it.
Now on to our favorites in the mains section. If we’re going to name our Top 3 Picks, this is one of them. This is Sisig Paksiw. Instead of the usual Sisig made with pork cheeks and pig’s ears, The Wild Juan’s version is made with pulled pork. Their chili soy aioli and homemade chicharon made the dish extra special. Their Sisig Paksiw was so good that it even converted a friend who’s not into Sisig into loving the dish.
If you’re into the famous Filipino dish with peanut sauce, you’d like this Krispy Kasoy Kare-Kare. Instead of using peanut in their Kare-Kare, they used kasoy (cashew) which made the sauce more earthy and flavorful. They also deep fried the beef brisket which added texture to the dish. Remember to use their spicy bagoong (shrimp paste) as a condiment to get that lovely saltiness mixed to the sauce.
Our next top pick is The Wild Juan’s version of gumbo. Instead of using shrimps or chicken or sausage, they used chunky beef shanks with bone marrow which is used in creating the well-known Filipino beef shank soup called Bulalo. The name Gumbo-lalo, which obviously is a combination of gumbo and bulalo, is spicy and rich and goes perfectly well with mounds of white rice.
Another top pick is their Southern Style Fried Chicken and Chips. We love fried chicken and this is a real treat! The chicken is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. You can pair it with either their Adobo Rice or Surf-rice (seafood bagoong rice) for that complementary or contrast in flavor, whichever you’re in the mood for. One good plus was the sweet potato chips because we love kamote.
The last dish we got was the Grilled Pineapple Glazed Pork Belly which comes with their refreshing pineapple-chili cilantro purée. Their purée was totally delicious that if The Wild Juan decides to bottle them, we’ll buy tons!
Overall, The Wild Juan’s dishes are tasty with a touch of innovation. We can definitely say that it’s one of the food places worth checking out in Tagaytay.
By the way, they also have a Bed and Breakfast so you can stay and enjoy their food at the same time.