Yoghurt House

Text: Kaycie Gayle
Header Photo courtesy: Kaycie Gayle

One of the well-known delights in the chilly mountains of Sagada is the homemade authentic yogurt that is made of goat’s milk. A little house in this place has actually been popularized by this tummy friendly treat. For obvious reasons its name is Yoghurt House, having it as their signature dish and used for flavoring some of their best seller meals. This bistro has pioneered in introducing the fermented milk product in the people’s palate in Sagada and has then become a staple treat in this remote mountainous place since late 2000. From then on, a lot of establishments have started to offer homemade yogurt that makes tourists associate Sagada with eating yogurt.

This bistro has always been known among the locals and famous among tourists since when it comes to restaurant suggestions it is the most recommended one thus making it as the most popular restaurant in the place. As the years pass by, it has established itself as one of Sagada’s landmark making a Sagada trip never be complete without dining at this small bistro. It has become an iconic restaurant for providing great food experience through offering decent scrumptious meals in this remote town.

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Yoghurt house in 2005
Photo courtesy: BradJill|Tripadvisor

2018-08-24_21.24.59.jpgYoghurt House in 2008
Photo courtesy: Kaycie Gayle

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Yoghurt house transformation
Photo courtesy: Wizak|Tripadvisor

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Yoghurt House facade
Photo courtesy: EnriqueAguilella|Tripadvisor

Having been in this high region is an experience of dining in this well-known bistro. Found inside my travel journal is a draft that was written ten years ago about my Sagada trip and the start of my fascination for culinary journeys which includes a short narrative of my memory about this humble restaurant. It could have been my attachment after dining in it that enabled me to write for the first time about a restaurant and that is how unconsciously this unimposing bistro impacted me so much.

April 15, 2008/ 12pm-  Yoghurt House

“Few steps away from the RJ Souvenir shop is the Yoghurt House. Eating in this restaurant is really included in our itineraries while we’re in Sagada. I really like the name of the restaurant and was curious if their yogurt is really delectable. I would also like to find out more about the other dishes included in their menu aside from yogurt.

The interiors of the bistro is cozy, it has an intimate ambiance since it is quite small. It actually only has 7 tables. The bistro gives you a feel like you’re eating in your grandmother’s home. The place is well lit since it has a big window, overlooking the road. There are books available, and pictures of Kankanaey people are hanging on the wall.  Most of the interior details are made of wood. The serving is big and the food matches foreigners taste since most of the dishes are dairy. After eating it will make you definitely feel full.

Since our lodge is just a few steps away from Yoghurt house, we decided to rest for a while, since we feel heavy and full after eating a lot and enjoying our meal at Yoghurt House. We have to wait until we feel comfortable and light to start spelunking.”

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Ground floor dining area (2008)
Photo courtesy: Kaycie Gayle

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Yoghurt House counter and kitchen (2008)
Photo courtesy: Kaycie Gayle

That is how pleasurable my dining experience at Yoghurt House has been 10 years ago, however, recently, it has been receiving reviews of having a snobbish appeal from tourist diners.  Hence, in this article, I would like to write down the comparison of how I remembered it before to the changes it has gone through the years.

A decade ago, the bistro outside looks like a typical two-floor house with its doors always shut. However,  a yellow signage with a vibrant artsy design bearing the bistro’s name will definitely catch your attention. At that time, only the ground floor is used as a bistro where the counter, the kitchen behind it, and the main dining area are all in. It also has a fireplace in a corner which could probably be used on a cold night. Once inside, the woody ambiance is felt which makes the place look warmer. It has native lamps and trunks that shaped as bench and chairs which were used as decorations but can be seated on as well. Its dining table and chairs are also made of wood. To provide comfort among diners while sitting they have attached stripe red and white cushion on the chairs. However, it only has seven tables at that time thus having a limited seating capacity. Meanwhile, the bistro’s aesthetic and homey appeal was enhanced by the little details such as the draped ceiling using traditional native fabric. Books were also displayed while lined and hanging on the walls are some framed old black and white photos of Kankanaey people who are the native tribe of the place depicting precisely the history and culture of Sagada. Back then, the best place to sit on is beside the big windows which makes the place well-lit. It’s the spot that allows you to see the activities on the street while dining. Currently, the second floor of the house has been opened to provide more chairs and dining tables to its customers. Moreover, the balcony is also now used as a dining area in which its floating table seemed to be attached with the balcony grills and its chairs are facing it. This part gives you a street view that is a perfect spot to feel the cool breeze while sipping your morning coffee and watching the sunrise lighting up the place as the locals and tourists start their day.

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Ground floor dining area as seen from the stairs
Photo courtesy: Iam17heather|Tripadvisor

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Ground floor with the fireplace on the corner
Photo courtesy: Farahnazii| Tripadvisor

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Previous counter that turned into the restaurant’s bar and located on the left side is the stairs leading to the second floor
Photo courtesy: Angela V. |Tripadvisor

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Second floor opened door to the balcony
Photo courtesy: NyomanBologna |Tripadvisor

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Second Floor
Photo courtesy: MadamMinchin|Tripadvisor

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Woody ambience
Photo courtesy: Badroilan|Tripadvisor

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Balcony with a street view
Photo courtesy: NyomanBologna|Tripadvisor

Yoghurt house has a somewhat western ambiance which could have been because of the western influence in Sagada. Aside from the local tourists, Caucasians and Europeans are also seen in visiting the place. In the earlier days, this bistro has a relaxed vibe with people singing and jamming but has always been known to be always crowded with people especially during the peak season. Luckily, when we had our breakfast there before we start exploring Sagada, we were the only customers at that time which could be probably because it was early. Hence, the best time to avoid the crowd and enjoy the dining experience at Yoghurt House is during breakfast when you can still choose your table.  Apparently at night, when we passed by it is packed with people. Presently, since the restaurant is consistently being frequented by tourists it can still be expected that they can be fully packed even the second level of the house has been opened to customers.

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Western tourists dining at the second floor
Photo courtesy: Iam17heather|Tripadvisor

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Multicultural diners at Yoghurt House
Photo courtesy: TerifficTraveler91|Tripadvisor

The dishes in this restaurant is also western influenced which could be probably because of the American missionaries that stayed in Sagada for a long time. Hence the restaurant offers fairly good food options of pasta courses, chicken, pork, sandwiches, vegetables, salads, desserts, mountain coffee and their homemade yogurt. Their dishes are served for breakfast lunch and dinner. What makes their food good is their secret recipe in which all their meals are freshly cooked using the town freshest produce. Most of their dishes are creamy and gracefully prepared in ceramics plate. Meanwhile, their yogurt is freshly and locally made from the farm and is straight to be served unto you. It is being offered in different choices from plain unflavored yogurt to yogurt topped with a variety of fruits and preserves. For purists, you may opt for the unflavored yogurt which has a creamy acidic taste, while the flavored yogurt is mostly preferred by some as the fruits balance the sourness and creaminess of the sour dairy base.

At present, their recipe and menu have seemed to continue to evolve having been a product of constructive critiques from local and foreign visitors through the years. As a matter of fact, back then I have only ordered plain yogurt but now they are offering it with more flavor variants. Also, the dishes that I ordered one of which is the Cheesy Pasta and Baked Chicken is off the menu hence, they have probably stopped serving it. Despite that it was not in the current menu list, it is a worth recommended dish. Their meals are reasonably priced since it is to be understood that it is located in a mountain village that is far from the city, therefore, the price of the ingredients in their market could also hike when they buy it.

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Cheesy Spaghetti and Baked Chicken (2008)
Photo courtesy: Kaycie Gayle

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Rice Meal (2008)
Photo courtesy: Kaycie Gayle

Being situated in a remote town, it is to be expected that it has a modest way of service. Food order is written on a simple pad paper and upon paying our bill, we did not receive receipt, however, they would probably give us if we only asked for it anyway.  Back then, you also have to wait a reasonable amount of time for your meal to be cooked, but rest assured that the food that will be served to you is warm. The service was relaxed and could take a while before having your food placed on your table but this is expected among home-cook restaurant anyway.  Also with the many diners, it is understood that they don’t have the luxury to chit-chat with customers.

Since the restaurant used to be a one-floored restaurant only it was easy for the staff to supervise it back then. Also, the basic rules for dining are already understood by the diners, so there is no need to indicate it. However, recently the restaurant has been gaining an image of being strict and having a snobbish appeal for having some rules like taking pictures of the displayed Sagada photo exhibit is strictly not allowed and prohibiting the rearrangement of chairs. With a decade of serving meals among tourists and locals, they could have encountered different situations and these rules were just made to protect what they have, maintain the order in the restaurant  and sustain proper decorum among its diners.

This restaurant has been long standing and yet still popular that it has established itself to be one of the known places in Sagada for culinary experience. For some reason, it has somewhat become a tourist spot as well. Its changes only reflect that it aims to improve and better serve the demanding needs of their multicultural diners. Regardless of its changes, one thing will remain, that it will always be a quite experience dining at this humble restaurant. Snobbish it may be for some, but that is its character that makes it appealing and a part of the checklist to do for every tourist visiting Sagada. Changes may take place but Yoghurt House will still invite everyone to experience their luscious culinary offerings may you be there for their home-cooked meals or have your yogurt night cap sessions or just simply taking out cups of yogurt for a good night’s digestion. This bistro will always be a good place to fill up yourself before exploring or to unwind and relax while satisfying your cravings after a whole day of strenuous activities and adventure in this mountainous remote place.

Yoghurt House is tucked at South Road, Sagada, Mountain Province.

Category:
Casual Dining
Moderately Priced Restaurant