After spending the evening with my parents and my sisters’ families in the condo in Taguig where we actually used to live, we went home to put Lia to sleep, then at eleven thirty in the evening, drove off to Eastwood to welcome the New Year with drinks and watch the fireworks. It was alright, though I could not help but remember last year’s when we were at the penthouse watching all the fireworks all over Metro Manila for hours and hours.
I have been wanting and waiting to blog about Cocina Juan, my favorite little eatery in Teacher’s Village, for so long now. It’s just that every time I was there, I did not have a camera with me or I didn’t have the opportunity or more like the nerve, to take photos. I have to admit that I am quite uneasy about taking photos of restaurants or food. It makes me self-conscious.
What I love about this little eatery along Maginhawa St. in Teacher’s Village is that, aside from its wonderful delicious Central American-inspired food, it is self-effacing. I don’t like crowded, noisy places and this modest place can always be counted on to have free tables; staff that is unobtrusive, polite and efficient; and more importantly, patrons that are nowhere near boisterous. I hate it when people at restaurants like to call attention to themselves.
We went to Cocina Juan twice this month. It was closed for an event the first time so we ended in Tomato Kick, my second-favorite eatery in Maginhawa St. It was open last Saturday though and boy, was I glad, because I was famished after that house-tripping we did in farther-than-Farview Sauyo. I didn’t get to take decent photos still though. Maybe next time as I am sure there will always be a next time.. and next.. and next.. and next, as long as I love Central American food, unassuming quiet little eateries and this place exists.
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Cocina Juan is a Central American inspired restaurant, thus the tag line “Inspiration de Centro America, Plato para La Filipino”. The small restaurant started last July of 2008 and was the brain child of siblings Thomas, Juan and Karlo Adviento.
In the beginning, Tom, the eldest among the siblings, wanted to start a Mexican inspired restaurant. The idea largely originated from his trips to the US where the cuisine was first introduced to him. He then related the taste and flavor to his brother, Juan aka “Boogie” (a culinary arts graduate at Café Isabelle), who bought the idea and started researching and developing the very first dishes for Cocina Juan, while Karlo (an interior designer) drafted what he imagined to be a Hispanic interior and design for the restaurant.
Before the end of 2008, Tom needed to travel again for work but this time was assigned for 4 months in a country located in Central America called Nicaragua. While in Nicaragua, he was able to expand his appreciation for the Latin culture and was able to learn and experience the festiveness that was expressed through color, music, language, dancing and cuisines.
When Tom went back to the Philippine, he immediately added what he learned in Nicaragua to finally complete the brand of Cocina Juan. Cocina Juan is not only just a restaurant that offers your Mexican Filipino staple, but is now serving a wider selection of food that comes from different regions of Central America. Examples start with the Chimichurri sauce, a parsley based sauce that originated in Argentina and used to accompany meat (Pork or beef) or fish, another is the Gallo Pinto rice which is originally from Guatemala but is considered as the staple rice in central America, Sofrito is another spanish sauce which is partnered with Fish at Cocina Juan and lastly for dessert is the Sopa Borracha, a Panamanian Dessert which from the word “Borracha” means drunken.
Cocina Juan is a small restaurant located in the heart of Maginhawa St. in Teachers Village, when you walk inside you will feel like you are right at home, colors and music were adapted to the interior to share the experience of the travels to Central America to every Filipino.
I got these photos of the menu from their Multiply site a long time ago. A site, which according to Multiply and Google, does not exist anymore. I wonder what happened. Have they canceled their Multiply account? Good thing they have a Facebook page. Click to view and maybe, be a fan, just like me. 🙂
This is Lia very much enjoying her meal of Nokia 5630 Xpress Music phone, with her foot propped up on the table. Feel-at-home much?!
And these were Lia’s very-own-Cocina-Juan-play things. I like that plate right there. Actually, I had my D80 in one hand and a climbing-on-the-table Lia in the other, so taking photos was like, “Yeah, yeah, click, click, whatever. Composition? What dat?”
The place is empty on a mid-Saturday afternoon, just the way I like it. We always take the outdoor tables even if we have Lia with us. I don’t know why. Maybe because.. “I love the outdoors”? *straight face*
…and this is what Ryan recommended I eat. He said it’s what he ordered last time we were there and I liked what he ordered more than I liked mine and that we switched plates. He says this is Chicken Chimichurri.
This last photo is a random shot of, “Whose bike is this?” resting by the wall, right next to the Cocina Juan signage, which is right next by the door, that at that time we were there though may not be there now, has a big native parol hanging on it. 😉
To read what Anton Diaz has on this place, as well as see more photos, click here.
100 Maginhawa Street,
UP Teacher’s Village Quezon City
Telephone Number: +632 434 3911; +63 916 317 8935
We have probably driven past this resto a hundred times. I have noticed it before, but was always hesitant to go in because I thought it was some sort of resort. Hahaha. Like you know, with nice villas and a pool inside. Sometimes I thought, it’s probably a chic little private museum. Other times I thought it was a restaurant, but an expensive one where we could not afford any food.
I love Kalayaan Avenue. It has all these cool little places that I make memories with. Like 9 Mile Bar. Like Pork Barrel, this kubo-kubo grill Ryan and I found ourselves one night we were trying to find a place to have coffee and beer and a quiet place where we could talk. Like this wine resto that is also a depot for native furniture. (Ha! Even BarKo in which we have unfortunately found ourselves one night). I lived in Kalayaan Avenue for one semester. My father rented out a big room for me, with its private bathroom at the back of this brick building that housed his then-office in the penthouse, where I was joined by my brother when he took up his masters in Ateneo de Manila. I almost know it upside-down, downside-up.
We had mass with Ryan’s parents because it was his mom’s birthday last Friday, at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in U.P. It was actually Lia’s first mass. I was not too happy about bringing her to mass because I know it was just gonna be hard on her but oh well.. We first thought of having dinner at Cocina Juan, since that is actually one of our favorite places these days, but we thought a party of six and a baby would not really fit in. We made it to Kamay Kainan thinking we were all gonna avail of buffet but the service there is awful, awful, awful, awful (I can’t seem to say it enough) that we left. We thought of eating at Trellis right across the street but Trellis was closed. I would say that this is another of those occurrences when a bad thing turns out to be a good thing because we ended up in Adarna: Food and Culture.
We were supposed to head back to Teacher’s Village, a convoy of three cars. We stopped to wait right in front of Adarna and I thought, why not check this place out? A waiter came out to meet me and I asked if I could see the menu. I only really wanted to check if the food was affordable. Having seen that they were, we then decided to stay.
I would dare say, this place is great! Affordable food, wonderful ambiance, great service and all that. Love this place! We would definitely come back soon!