Punta Engano Rd, Mactan Island, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu
Visited 3rd May 2009
The Hong Kong tradition of having holidays on the actual day means that despite a decent number of public holidays we only get the occasional long weekend. May Day was the first three day weekend since last September and to make the most of it I headed to Cebu with a mate. Next to our hotel on Mactan Island was a mysterious, imposing concrete fence and set of gates with a sign saying "honk horn for entry". We assumed it was a nightclub, however a little research (looking for a late night drink) revealed abaca; a boutique hotel and restaurant. Abaca really is a pretty lush proposition. The rooms are extraordinarily indulgent; with each having its own private swimming pool. The beautiful open air restaurant is set in a tropical garden with views of both Cebu Straight and the kitchen's big wood fired oven.
The modern menu is packed with plenty of delicious western style dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. I started with a serve of fried calamari followed by a fillet of tuna atop gnocchi, while my mate went with lamb kebabs and grilled salmon. The massive pile of meltingly fresh squid was extremely tasty and big enough to be a meal in itself, while the perfectly cooked tuna was delicious served atop tender home-made gnocchi. The meal was completed by chewy homemade bread, rosemary infused oil for dipping and a side serve of mash. We drank local beers to start and then tried an interesting and aromatic blend of Romanian Gewürztraminer followed by a crisp Woodstock Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margret River.
Abaca really is outstanding. The attentive and professional staff are the backbone of an ultra slick operation that centres on excellent food and a beautiful garden location. The Philippines normally offers excellent value, yet our bill at abaca came to P7350 (HK$1240), though nearly half of this was for the drinks. This may seem a tad hefty compared to local chicken and rice joints, but abaca is a restaurant of international quality and judged on this scale still offers good value; my tuna main was P865 which is less than HK$140. Divine tropical ambiance, professional service, top notch grub and good wine list makes abaca a top dinning destination. How can I not recommend a restaurant where every part of our experience was superb? Visit restaurant website.