Straight from a nine-hour graveyard shift, we traversed the south superhighway, sped through the Star Tollway and eventually ventured the highways of Batangas just to have breakfast at this obscure restaurant in San Jose known to us only by its funky name, Casa Rap.
There’s really not much we know about Casa Rap except the write-ups we read about it online. Two things led us here; its proximity to Lipa City, where I’m gonna score my Batangas Starbucks Mug, and it being part of the Viaje Del Sol (which probably means this would be a cool resto to check out, similar to Casa San Pablo in Laguna).
So there we were, speeding along the highway to Batangas City, checking out the kilometer markers for KM90 which is exactly where Casa Rap is located. Just in case we miss it, we asked our jeepney driver to drop us at the restaurant. He seemed forgetful though and we went pass the resto by a hundred steps.
The place is owned by Sister Elma Alday, a former Good Shepherd nun, and her sister Sonia Alampay; it sits right at their ancestral home.
The Casa Rap experience starts at the house’s antique looking sala (living room) where an attendant takes your order (some gift items are also sold there, sadly no ref magnets). After which, visitors are then led to the lush gardens, complete with goldfish ponds, where ingredients for the dishes are grown. And then finally into the dining hall.Now, I can’t decide if the dining area is outdoors or indoors; being housed in a greenhouse-like structure. The floors are made of loose gravel interspersed with stone pathways, the translucent ceiling is hung with plants and vines. Old Japanese umbrellas shade the wood and stone tables, and there are all sorts of curious knickknacks everywhere you look. Lamps, terrariums, wood carvings, paintings; it was almost like a living room set in a garden.
The restaurant does not stop at the dining area though; a screen door leads outside to a prayer room, a simple covered area, amidst lush greens. If you move further on, you’ll discover steps leading down a gurgling stream below the restaurant. Watch out for spiders though, the place is a hotbed for creepy crawlers; evidence that this place is still very much in tune with mother earth (I was told that the many-er the insects in a place, the more pristine the place is).
As we went back inside after exploring the back of the dining hall, I overheard one of the guest gushing over the restaurant say that the place is both expansive and intimate at the same time. I could not agree more, step inside Casa Rap’s dining area and it indeed exudes intimacy; but once you step out of its screened confines, a whole jungle seemed to open right out at its doorstep; a perfect balance between man’s need for shelter amidst nature’s wildness.
Now on to Casa Rap’s breakfast offerings.