There is only one food outlet at Playa Tropical Resort Hotel and that is Cafe Amarra. Except for their pasta and seafood dishes, serving size is usually large so for a family of four (composed of two adults and two kids), a half order will usually do. It is good that the resort accepts half-orders.

You have a choice of eating your meals at Cafe Amarra itself indoors (regular dining table or on the low table — something like sitting, Japanese style); the tables outdoors; or in the huts in the middle of the garden where you can also watch the fish in the pond or look out into the pool and the sky and the sea. We usually took our breakfasts in the garden huts while lunch and dinner we took indoors.

For a family of four, you will probably spend an average amount of P1,000 to P1,200 for lunch or dinner. That will already include rice, two to three viands, and drinks. The quality of the food is average to above average but from our previous travels, we can say that the pricing is already reasonable for resort food.

Our four day, three night package already included breakfast for three people. We just needed to order an extra breakfast for my daughter. For breakfast, you will be asked to choose one item from the list and they have a good range of choices enough to last you three days. Serving size is not very heavy (okay to last you till lunch but you won’t feel very full) and it comes with your choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is actually Milo (I think) with lots of water but the taste improves a lot if you add more sugar. My daughter enjoyed the resort’s pancake; the pork tocino (tender and sweetish); and the Iloco longganisa. Breakfast items cost anywhere from P150 to P240. I also liked the tocino and the longganisa while the husband enjoyed the bangus (that’s what he ate I think everyday).

Food was okay although cooking quality was not very consistent. For example, if four of us ordered sunny side up eggs, one would come out nicely cooked while two or three would be quite dry. The Oriental chicken, which we also ordered twice, was nicely cooked the first time but was slightly burnt the second time.

What food did we like at Playa Tropical? What are your best bets when ordering from the menu? The Oriental Chicken was good the first time. The skin was crispy, the meat tender and tasty and the sauce was perfect. The bagnet was also yummy. Bagnet is an Ilocano dish where pork belly is air dried and fried. It’s something similar to lechon kawali. I don’t know how they do it though that the skin is crispy while the fat below it is quite soft and nice — the texture of the fat itself is quite different from lechon kawali. It is served with KBL (you know you’re in Marcos country but KBL here stands for kamatis, bagoong, and lasona or onions). The pinakbet (again an Ilocano dish of mixed vegetables) is wetter and has a more orange-colored sauce. We enjoyed their halo-halo (large enough to be shared by the four of us) as it was not too sweet and the ice was easy to mix. The sinigang na baboy is your best bet for soup, with tender pork slices. The pasta marinara and the spaghetti were tasty enough and had enough meat or seafood mixed in. The blue lemonade was refreshing.

Which food items could stand some improvement? The creamy soups did not taste very different from each other — whether it was mushroom, crab and corn, or asparagus. They tasted like they had a lot of flour or cornstarch added in. The calamares with mayo dip did not have much flavor, both in terms of the breading and the squid itself. The seafood gambas was okay, flavor wise but we only saw two pieces of shrimp (which is what you would usually associate with gambas) while the rest of the dish was mostly fish. The cheese sticks were not as we expected (they did not have any lumpia wrapper) while the salpicao was made up of strips and not the usual cubes or chunks and the meat was quite tough to chew.

Cafe Amarra can improve its menu by adding items like pizzas and say, milk and fruit shakes. Its present menu affords some variety in terms of food choice enough to last a guest 3 to 4 days. Beyond that though, there may not be enough variety.

Still, generally, the food is of acceptable quality, particularly if you already start to discover which food items work and which may not suit your taste.

Up next: Things to Do at Playa Tropical in Ilocos Norte

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