I am sorry I waited so long to eat here. I was so traumatized by Cendrillon that I vowed never to eat fancy Filipino food ever again. The only time I'd go to a Filipino restaurant is to get pork BBQ because that's the one thing that no restaurant can do wrong.
However, this is my good friend's favorite place, and she had already asked me too many times to decline any more. The plan was actually to go someplace else, but the wait was so long, she insisted we go to Payag, where she said there is never a wait. Of course, that didn't sound like a good thing, but then I realized when we got to Payag that the reason there's no wait is because the place is huge.
The reason I am sorry for waiting so long? Payag is amazing. It struck many nostalgic chords in the adult, Filipino me. The one who frequented high-end places in Metro Manila with friends and cousins, and became more and more impressed with the contemporary aesthetics of Filipinos in the Philippines. From the rattan seats to the banig wall hanging to the high ceilings, Payag reminded me of the city chic that one would find in Makati.
As for the food, yes it is higher priced than usual Filipino food, but it is not OVER priced. You really get what you pay for. At Cendrillon, all the food had Filipino names, but when they arrived they were unrecognizable. At Payag, everything had a twist that can be appreciated. My friend ordered the chicken adobo and the twist was the crunchy yet sticky texture; I order halaan soup and the twist was lemongrass. Otherwise, the soup was exactly how my lola used to make it: clean and simple broth with sharp flavors, to bring out the taste of the clams.
Even though I'm late to Payag, I'm happy to have discovered this home away from home.