I chanced upon Chew Love rather unexpectedly.
From the tricycle I was riding in downtown Tacloban, the building’s bright teal color, red and white striped canopies and colorful murals painted on the walls instantly called out to me. When I entered, the first thing I saw was a sofa full of graphic throw pillows in cheerful colors and a vintage white bicycle covered with flowers. How can you not instantly fall in love with a place that looks just as pretty as that?
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to find something like this in Tacloban. The images in my mind of the capital city of Leyte were all scenes of devastation. After typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda hit the Visayas region last year, the most common images in the media still show the process of rebuilding – tent cities, bridges under construction, and large boats still docked in the shore.
Yes, I saw those scenes there as well, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a different side in Chew Love. This cozy hangout, which opened just last June 2014, is said to be part of a renaissance of small restaurants in the Burgos and Gomez Streets in downtown area, illustrating how people are getting back on their feet.
According to an article in Interaksyon, the restaurant was opened by entrepreneur Coke Young-Go to give locals a place to enjoy decent home cooked meals in a cheerful homey environment. Almost a year after typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban, locals who had grown tired of relief goods and dreary life were clamoring for a place with decent food and to “forget the devastation” even for a moment.
They serve a focused menu of Asian Fusion, mostly Filipino dishes and “Soul Food”. There are pork, beef, chicken and fish based meals, along with pasta, sandwiches & burgers, beer matches, “sidelines,” drinks and desserts. The Crush ng Bayan aka Bestsellers include “Be Kare-Ful with My Heart” (Kare-Kare), Cheeky Feeling (boneless chicken barbecue), and Hungarian Spag-hottie (A spicy pasta dish).
I ordered the “Love at Pork Sight,” two slices of pork liempo served with eggplant salad and steamed rice shaped like a heart (P160) and Gingerly Yours, a refreshing lemonade infused with fresh ginger, Mexican turnip, carrots & chayote (P50/single serve). Everything was beautifully presented, delicious, and heartwarming. It’s the kind of food that you will want to keep coming back to.
The interiors were really lovely as evidenced by the number of diners (including me) who were lining up to take photos in the sofa area and take Instagram shots of all the cute details. Chew Love is definitely a cheerful spot in Tacloban. If you’re traveling to Leyte anytime soon, it’s definitely worth a stop.
- Address: Chew Love Tacloban, P. Gomez Street, Tacloban City
- Restaurant hours: Mondays to Saturdays 11:00 am to 8:30 pm; Closed on Sundays
- Facebook: Chew Love Tacloban