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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

EveryJuan, Let's All Welcome: Baguio City's IhawJuan

Found in an unremarkable building along Marcos Highway, is an unpretentious entrance with a huge sign on top, and a glass enclosed grilling area at the side.

From the time this place opened (around July of this year), I've noticed a steady stream of people gathered in front of it's entrance. From looking at all the Facebook posts taken from this place, I had an inkling that my food loving family might want to take a look at this place.


Earlier today, we decided to head out to a place call IHAWJUAN (Pinoy Comfort Food) and check out what the hullabaloo was all about.

Getting food to cook is a first come first serve thing. The mad dash didn't give us time to take photos of what was on the menu that day.

IhawJuan is a straight forward, no nonsense, eat-all-you-can place. It serves, just as the name connotes, grilled stuff. And by stuff, I do mean the ubiquitous (as far as Pinoy street food goes) pork chops, chicken parts (breast fillet, lollipops, spicy neck, gizzard, liver and isaw or intestines), fish (bangus/milk fish and Imelda fish), squid and veggies (okra, eggplant slices and tomatoes) to the almost unheard of things to grill like tofu, squidballs, pork tocino and tapa and many more.

Various dipping sauces and condiments are available, so you could adjust the flavors of your cooking, to your liking.

"Cooking" you ask? Yep. I forgot to mention that the whole thing is sort of like a shabu shabu or Korean BBQ place, that has grills on the center of each table. You're suppose to grill your own food.

a staff replaces the coals in our grill

Cooking's quite fast, if you get well heated coals. Our family needed two cookers, given that there were 7 of us for the lunch hour. One of the grills took the longest time to cook food on , despite assurances from a member of the staff that it was "ok". I kept my temper in check today, since one of my pet peeves are people who patronize me. It was not indeed "ok" as eventually, they replaced our coals, saying ours was "wet". 30 minutes of not being able to cook a thinly sliced pork chop does not constitute the word "ok".

After 30 minutes of futile grilling, they replaced  our coals and all was well ;)

The model of the restaurant is a that of a self service one. Your unlimited rice, soup and iced tea, as well as your grilled nomnoms, along with your cups and plates, are all made available by getting up, and getting it yourself. No sarcasm here. I kinda like the idea, seeing that since you're stuffing yourself to the gills, you could benefit from a little of the effort needed to get your stuff.

The restaurant staff provides brushes along with your tongs and utensils, to help you with the grilling. A spray bottle of water is on standby, so you could wet the flames if they get a bit unruly. The thing I didn't get was the nonfunctional vents on top of the grills that should have served as the exhaust. As we ate there earlier, smoke was everywhere, instead of going up. Maybe they'll turn those things on eventually. Thankfully, the place was extremely well ventilated on this fine, Saturday morning.

these guys (except MAX) skipped breakfast in preparation for lunch
We arrived there around 10:45 am, 15 minutes before the official opening time of 11. Benches were placed at the front for us. Eventually the early lunch crowd arrived, and waited with us. I truly agree with the saying, "Birds of the same feather, flock together", as the first 3 groups that arrived were all friends and acquaintances of ours. We truly love our food, make no mistake about it. Apparently, so do our friends :)

MAX's Mei Hwa plate 160 php - it's got Chinese style fried chicken, lechon macau, chopsuey and a sunny side egg on top of the steamed rice
The cost per person for the lunch and late lunch hour (11-5 pm) is 199 php and 249 php for the dinner hour (5-9 pm). Should you like ala carte dishes, the next door restaurant, Mei Hwa (owned by the same owner) has Chinese dishes as short orders, rice toppings and more.

family fun time!
It took us about 2 hours to get our fill of the place. It was worth it. The food was mediocre at best, but the price and the experience itself was simply fabulous. Our family was so full and we had so much FUN!

As expected, ambiance and dress code is casual. Expect to smell like smoke when you leave. The lunch hour was extremely packed with groups waiting out front to replace the ones who just ate. Business is truly booming for the IhawJuan peeps. Just saying.

Parking's available at the basement of the bldg., and there are like 3 or 4 parking spots at the front. In cases where you cant find parking, the side street of Campo Sioco is but a stone's throw away. It's quite safe to park there, as that's where we ended, without incident, parking today.

For the curious, you may find IhawJuan at this address:
G/F Blue Mountain Hotel, #18 Marcos Highway, Baguio City
Visit their Facebook page at this link (please click)

photo tip of the day, sit up straight when your photo's being taken to avoid excess bulges ;-)

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!!