Tag Archives: Bicol

Small Talk Cafe: Where The Opening Act Is Huge And The Star Isn’t The Main Event

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Before flying out to Bicol I surfed the web for the best places to dine (as I always do) and Small Talk Cafe is the most mentioned restaurant in many travel blogs/guides I visited. The reviews I read were mixed, but the raves seemed to outnumber the rants so I included the restaurant in my must-visit list in Legazpi. And since I’m a huge fan of Bicolano cooking particularly the famous Bicol Express and laing, dining in Small Talk Cafe became part of my can’t-wait-to-do list.

I was so excited to try out the Cafe’s food so we planned to have our lunch there, right after checking out at the airport. Much to our dismay, though, we weren’t able to do so because apparently, we came too early: the restaurant won’t be open until late afternoon. Hungry and extremely bummed, we ate at SikaTuna instead.

The food in SikaTuna wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything special, either. I say this probably because it wasn’t my first time to experience their food–the restaurant already has a number of branches around Metro Manila since the ’90s, if I’m not mistaken. We ordered grilled blue marlin and laing.

Because of our tight schedule, eating at Small Talk was moved to our last night in Legazpi.

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If my memory serves me right, this dish is called Mayon Volcano Roll. (Reader, feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken. :)) It’s basically deep-fried tempura breading-coated rolled white bread filled with spicy laing and some white cheese. According to the menu, it’s supposed to be a snack or an appetizer, but it’s so filling it could be a full meal by itself!

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Adobong Manok Sa Gata — I first came to know about the different variations of adobo (ang pambansang ulam) just last year in my Philippine History class and as a fan of viands cooked in coconut, Adobo Sa Gata immediately became a must-try for me. Small Talk Cafe’s version was a delight! I gorged on the adobo no matter how full I already was from eating the Mayon Roll.

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…and of course, the Bicol Express. Ahh. Where do I begin?

Compared to the serving sizes of the two dishes given earlier, Small Talk’s Bicol Express seemed more like a free taste sample than a part of the meal. Despite appearing like a sawsawan (condiment), the resto’s version was bursting with flavor. It was so delicious that we asked for another helping of it, which our waitress kindly obliged.

One interesting thing I learned in this trip is that Bicol Express is not served as a main dish (ulam) in Bicol–it’s merely a side dish served alongside the ulam for additional spice or flavor. (A Western analogy would be how cranberry sauce or chutney is served with turkey.) That explains why it is served only in a platito (saucer) and that it’s made up of about 90% pork fat, unlike in Manila where it’s served in a platter and has less fat and more meat–an ulam, practically.

Small Talk Cafe doesn’t have its own .com website, but it has its own page in Facebook.

Address:  51 Dona Aurora St. Legazpi City, Albay, Bicol

Need more details? Here’s a map.

Phone (Landline): +63524801393

Bicol Express

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…nope, I’m not blogging about the dish. Equally as exciting, though, is that the Bicol Express Train is literally back on track! Inaugurated in 1938, the train had been operating on and off for several years until it completely ceased operation when super typhoon Reming (international name: Durian) struck the Bicol region in 2006.

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Here it is now! Newly painted and completely refurbished, I hope. Now I can go to Bicol without having to sit in a bus with very little leg room or wait for discounted plane tickets that come once in a blue moon.

Fare rates are said to cost almost the same as bus fares going to Bicol, so it’s guaranteed not to be expensive. Also, different types of seating are available for passengers to choose from. Unfortunately, online access to detailed info on fares and seats is not possible right now as PNR’s (Philippine National Railways) website is currently under re-construction. I’ll post updates, though, soon as it gets back online.