WITH commercial buildings and stores lining up busy Escario Street, a cozy white house on the corner of Apitong Street captures one’s attention.
It houses the Home & Pantry décor store, which is bursting with holiday colors and a door beside it with a “Simply J’s” signage opens to a homey restaurant with country style look.
The pretty and quaint tea sets and china, small copper pots and knick-knacks on open shelves attract diners. The restaurant is pretty much like a home-style dining room.
Simply J’s has been around since 2009 serving home-cooked Pinoy meals that slowly grew into
continental and Asian inspired dishes. To please the regulars who enjoy the home-cooked dishes, lunch and dinner buffet is available daily except Sundays.
A family whose names all start with the letter J with special interest in food is behind Simply J’s. Jimmy Chua, PLDT Visayas Enterprise Business Head, has partly taken over the business that his dietician sister Vicky Sy and son Jonathan Ian, an accountant, started.
A cousin, Chef Jacob Dico, contributed his expertise and established the good food in the restaurant.
Jonathan and Jacob have since pursued their respective careers, leaving the restaurant with Vicky and Jimmy.
With a new chef, Sly Auxulio II, Simply J’s continue to reinvent the food offerings.
Chef Sly is a native of Bohol who took up a two-year Culinary Programme in the International Culinary Academy of Cebu (ICAAC). His internship brought him to Devon, England where he polished his basic knowledge.
Lunch with Jimmy and Vicky showed the culinary prowess of Chef Sly, without abandoning the signature favorites that Simply J is known for.
One side of the cozy restaurant has the buffet layout, which has become very popular wit its regulars. Jimmy pointed out that the Pansit Palabok served on the buffet is a prized recipe from the old Foodarama from way back.
There is a private room for small groups of 10 to 20 persons for small celebrations.
A cozy area accommodates guests who prefer to order from the Ala Carte menu.
The menu is quite extensive with soup, salads, sandwiches, pastas and entrees that include choices of beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Chef Sly prepared his creations.
We started with a refreshing Asian Mandarin Salad of lettuce, carrots, cucumber, chicken strips topped with crispy rice noodles and rendered sweet and tangy with Asian dressing (sesame oil, hoisin sauce, vinegar).
Jimmy had his favorite
Sisig. The Stuffed Chicken Parcel with mozzarella and cheddar cheese was his version of chicken cordon bleu.
We enjoyed the dish with Java rice. His Stuffed Rack of Pork with pesto sauce and bacon, breaded and fried, was just as delicious. The Goat Caldereta was cooked Cebuano style with sweet flavors of pineapple.
Dessert is always the highlight of any meal. And I was not disappointed. Chef Sly presented his fancy Banoffee and Blueberry Cheesecake.
Banoffee is an English dessert pie made of bananas, cream, and coffee on a base of crumbled cookies.
I liked the gelatin between the crumbled graham and the cream drizzled with coffee flavored thick syrup.
The Blueberry Cheesecake was a standout too, cheesy, creamy on a bed of crushed graham crackers topped with whole berries.
A cup of freshly brewed coffee perked up our gustatory satisfaction.