Sunday, June 10, 2012

Razon's Of Guagua



When I catch a glimpse of Razon's bright red logo, two things come to mind: Halo-halo and Kapampangan cuisine. Halo-halo, which has no direct English translation isn't really the kind of food I would eat as snack - given my undeveloped taste for local desserts. And as for Kapampangan dishes, I prefer meals served in its home province. 

After all, seldom do my gut find itself in the Cabalen heartland. Eating becomes part of the pilgrimage.

So imagine my excitement when a friend invited me to a food tasting event. He was asked to write about Razon's of Guagua for a local website, and he needed friends to tag along. Given that it was my rest day and I had nothing else to do, I said yes to the free dinner and readied my tummy for a feast.


Razon's Greenhills



Off I went to Razon's Greenhills to meet my associate. Together with our three other friends, we were welcomed by Ramon Baltazar Jr. He is the Vice President of Razon's Food Corporation and a direct descendant of the one who started the business. 

RB, as he preferred to be called, shared stories about Razon's past. As he recalled, Razon's used to be a family-run business with a quaint restaurant in Guagua. Forced out of Pampanga to seek new taste buds elsewhere, the elder Razons stumbled into Robinson's Galleria and opened their first kiosk at the mall's food court.

The business had already earned the goodwill of the Kapampangans, who found themselves wandering inside the mall. But what made them a household name was the free publicity they received after Chico and Delamar said they are the best Halo-Halo place in town.   


The Signature Halo-Halo



Overnight, curious RX listeners stormed their little kiosk to taste their mythical Halo Halo, and from just one little corner in Ortigas, Razon's grew to 31 branches in less than a decade.

RB continued to talk about the restaurant's proud heritage, explaining that what they offer are dishes they themselves prepare at home. 

"More than our Halo Halo," RB said as my droopy eyes scanned my surroundings "What we offer best are comfort food." 

"Comfort." I smiled. 

From the soft orange ceiling lights, to the plush vermilion seat covers and plates, the chill atmosphere inside the restaurant sets the mood for contemplation. I could almost see myself sitting alone at a table, facing the glass mirror overlooking Club Filipino Avenue with my plastic tumbler of Halo Halo.

While mixing the ingredients with a spoon, I would notice the thin slices of leche flan disappear under the very fine ice shavings. The layers of macapuno and sun-ripened banana - delicately prepared by Razon's trusted chefs - move from the bottom to the top of the tumbler, as the concoction becomes one, with each part complementing the taste of the other.

Sweet.



The Bestsellers: L-R Kapampangan Sisig, Beef Bulalo, Crispy Liempo

Meanwhile, the attentive waiter serves a plate of garlic rice and bulalo. Simmered in rich gravy instead of swimming in bland soup, the tenderized beef melts in your mouth leaving you spellbound with each bite.

The daydream-before-the-meal, as one would describe the brief moment of bliss, fractured into reality once our orders came. RB was gracious enough to let us pick the dishes we wish to try. He even cautioned us not to hesitate.

"Kain lang ng kain," he would remind us from time to time. "Huwag kayong mahiya."

And eat we all did. From the crunchy Sisig marinated and fried the Kapampangan way, to the tomato-based Chicken Pork Asado, it felt less like a food trip and more of visiting one's home, whose host proudly serve his family's culinary delights.

I had two cups of Garlic Rice. And on my plate were small servings of each dish Razon's of Guagua offers to their customers. RB insisted that we should have another round of crunchy-but-not-too-salty sisig because he felt that our minds were wanting. But in truth, our guts were already begging off.

Busog na busog na kami.

For my first taste of Razon's, the experience was beyond purging one's hunger. Not only did I get acquainted with my Kapampangan roots - through RB, the comfort food - no matter how cardiac-arrest inducing it is - is out of the ordinary. I say it's the closest thing I've ever got to an authentic Cabalen feast.

If only they'd add more vegetables on their menu.

I left the Greenhills branch and vowed to walk all the way to Shaw Boulevard just to burn those calories. It was just one meal, but it felt like eating the whole day. And just to make sure I could share the food experience with my family, I bought a sticky, bite-sized puto from another branch to bring home to my nephew.


Razon's Of Guagua Website
WhenInManila

12 comments:

vhinong said...

The fine crushed ice and the creamy milk make the Halo-halo tastes really good. And don't forget the "minatamis na saging na saba", makes you feel at home!!! :)

baste said...

Razon's.

Na-miss ko ang kainan na 'to. I miss the sisig and halo-halo in my mouth.

itsMePeriod said...

gatas ng kalabaw in the halo2x makes it all creamy and tasty

namimiss ko na yung sizzling bulalo nila.<*drool*>

jasetiojanco said...

Razon's Halo-Halo!!! Great example of 'less is more'.

I usually order their Chicken Pork Asado whenever we have lunch in their Eastwood branch. Their Dinuguan's delicious as well.

Their home-style burger's a let down though... I've tried it thrice and the patty was dry and bland in all three instances.

Mugen said...

Jase:

Ayus ah, mas marami ka pang beses nakakain sa akin sa Razon's. :) Didn't like the Chicken Pork Asado that much as well as the Dinuguan. Pero the Sisig and Bulalo, I say, is a hands down.

When I go back, I'll order a tumbler of Halo Halo. Of all their offerings, yun lang ata ang nag-stick talaga sa akin.

Erick:

Yup, masarap talaga yung Bulalo nila. Lalo na if it starts to melt in your mouth.

Mugen said...

Baste:

Razon's is waiting. I'm sure they look forward to your return. :)

Vhinong:

Sabi ni RB during the interview, a true halo-halo doesn't require too many ingredients. The Sweetened Saba, the Macapuno the Leche Flan, and the powdery ice is all that it needs to be truly special.

shenanigans said...

Ang poetic mo talaga sir... *at yun talaga napansin ko. haha!*

lagi kong nakikita yan sa labas ng gym at talaga namang nakakatemp kumain

the green breaker said...

I've heard so much about the halo halo. This payday, humanda ka! :p

cHard said...

The halo-halo is to die for.. seriously!

From Valenzuela I would often travel all the way to Razon's in Shopwise Cubao just to have it.. pero before they opened the cubao branch.. dumadayo pa ako ng robinsons pampanga branch nila.. =)

Mugen said...

rChard:

Kasama ako sa nag-interview dun sa may ari pero di ko maalala kung meron silang Branch sa Robinson's Pampanga.

Sadly, hindi pa ako nakakabalik. Maybe one of these days. :)

Joe:

Naghanda nga ba naman sila sa sikmura mo? Hehe.

Russell:

You should try it. Dun ko binili yung puto I took home for my nephew. And I walked all the way from Club Filipino for that. :)

MEcoy said...

bigla ako ng crave sa halohalo kahit dang lamig naun dito samen hehe

Ran Perez said...

wow nagutom ako bigla.