Arts & Culture

Take A Trip Down Memory Lane At This Restaurant

While in Quezon City, head to Dong Juan, where they serve good food with a pinch of Philippine literary history

Photography: Kurt Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions Styling: Tala Singson

In the Quezon City branch of Dong Juan, you don’t just get served delicious dishes—you also get a taste of Philippine literature as you dine in the ancestral house of the Father of the Tagalog Zarzuela, Severino Reyes, more known by his pen name “Lola Basyang.”

Yung descendants niya, dito tumira. Nung 1970s, the house got burned down, but they renovated it and brought back the original structure,” narrates co-owner and showbiz anchor Ahwel Paz. All the other branches of the restaurant in the Visayas region are either in malls or shopping centers. “We’re the only branch na house yung motif. Ang kagandahan pa kasi, you not only get to experience the great food but the place also,” adds Ahwel, who co-owns the establishment with John Borja and his wife Aubrey, and John Lim and Nikki Cunanan.

From the floors to the stairs and walls, the two-storey ancestral home-turned-restaurant is garbed mostly in old narra wood. Architectural details like brise-soleil were used to accent the main dining area on the first floor. The original storage area under the stairs was converted into a wine cellar which doubles as a cozy nook that can accommodate four to five guests (a sought-after spot in the restaurant). “Even the descendants were delighted to see that we were able to convert it into a cellar to maximize the space,” says Ahwel. 

Meanwhile, on the second level are three bedrooms that were converted into walled-off dining areas. These are sparsely decorated save for a few wall art. Also on this floor is another popular room among customers—an open veranda that the business partners closed off with a skylight. During daytime, the space is perfect for laidback get-togethers; at night, it becomes a dimly lit nook for more intimate occasions.

A few steps from this veranda is a big hall that Ahwel calls the “Lola Basyang Room,” where a portrait of the playwright is on display. Ahwel recalls, “Nung nakita ko ‘to, old house lang talaga siya and para siyang museum.” In keeping with the house’s heritage, Ahwel and his partners made sure to keep a few antique decorative pieces. The other bigger pieces were returned to the original owners for fear that the precious items might get damaged. 

Since it opened in June 2014, Dong Juan has seen a steady flow of loyal guests who rave not only about the food, but also about the unique dining experience that the establishment generously offers. Who wouldn’t? It’s not every day that you get to set foot in the home of a Philippine literary icon, and that’s a story worth telling.

Dong Juan is located at 72 Mo. Ignacia cor. Sct. Reyes, Quezon City. You can call them at 374-0265.

Read the original article (Dong Juan: Dine in History) in the March 2016 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details. 

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