Balay Cena Una: Flavorful Cuisine in an Bicolano Ancestral Setting

I arrived with a friend in Legazpi, Albay two days before the Penafrancia Festival. After checking in a pension house in Daraga, we decided to have late lunch at Balay Cena Una. It was said to be one of Albay's best kept secret. Balay Cena Una or "Sinaunang Bahay" is an ancestral home built during the Spanish era and was restored into a restaurant that serves traditional flavors from different cultures.

Balay Cena Una Facade
Balay Cena Una Facade

Balay Cena Una, which opened on 2009 reminded me of old movies where men sang a tune to please a woman he is courting as she looks from the second floor window. My folks would have loved to dine here as it would bring back fond memories of their younger days.

Balay Cena Una Reception

We had the restaurant by ourselves since it was already past 2:00PM when we arrived. Everything was spic and span. After ordering, we went around and noticed all the old furnishings, narra stairs and antique collections. It was like going back in time.

Balay Cena Una Ground Floor
Ground Floor

Across the reception is a long table suited for a family or group of 6-8 people. The table is nested just near the window, which gives diners that cozy feeling of eating in the comforts of home.

Balay Cena Una Second Floor
Second Floor

The second floor is wide and spacious despite two long tables and some smaller ones. The space between tables seemed like a dance floor where pairs can tango or cha-cha while waiting for their food. This would be a good place to hold events and parties.

Balay Cena Una Window Table
Window Table

Two smaller single tables are also on the second floor. Placed by the window, these tables are perfect for those pairs who want to go on a romantic date while in Albay. The seat gives a perfect view of what's happening on this quiet area of Daraga. We went back in our table as our food was about to be served already.

Fern Salad
Wild Fern Salad | Php 65.00

I have never eaten wild fern or "Pako" before so I was a bit intrigued when I saw Wild Fern Salad in the menu. Apparently Pako is available year-round and their Chefs were able to create a variety of dishes with it, and they have concocted a dressing that brings out the best in pako when made into a salad. For something that is peculiar, I give thumbs up for the taste.

Boneless Chicken Tinutungan
Boneless Chicken Tinutungan or Adobong Manok sa Sinunog na Gata | Php 178.00

My friend had Boneless Chicken Tinutungan or Adobong Manok sa Sinunog na Gata for lunch. Tinutungan is comprised of smoked coconut milk, native chicken, papayas. Some restaurants even use chicken blood to enhance the dish’s texture and taste. The use of native chicken makes the dish richer in flavor. The coconut milk used in tinutungan is smoked. The grated coconut is cooked in charcoal before pressed for its milk. The smoking process is done by placing a lighted coal in the middle of the grated coconut which is placed inside a small basin. This procedure usually lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes. The distinct smoky and creamy flavor makes this unique dish.

I can't help but ask for a small slice of the chicken as its distinct smokey and creamy flavor is soothing in my nostrils. I've never tasted something this delicious before so I asked for another slice.

Lapu-lapu Fillet in Gourmet sauce
Lapu-lapu Fillet in Gourmet sauce | Php 265.00

I ordered Lapu-lapu Fillet in Gourmet sauce, which is one of our their specialties and was highly recommended by the waiter. The sauce used marries the flavor of fish and prawns that gives this dish a distinct. I applaud the chefs for such an interesting yet equally flavorful dish.

Opera Cake
Opera Cake | Php 92.00

And for dessert, we shared a slice of Opera Cake. Opera cake is a French type of cake. It is made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze. I tasted Pili nuts in this cake, something local that is added to this dessert.

Utazo at Cena Una
Utazo at Cena Una

Overall, our food was great, service was quite good considering we were the only diners in that unholy hour of the day. Presentation was really appetizing. Value for money is excellent for someone who wants to eat gourmet for a reasonable price. Ambiance is excellent. I would love to eat here again when I'm in Albay and try other dishes including the Lumpiang Tinapa, Cordon Bleu, Pork Medallion in Pepper Sauce and Pork Wiener Schnitzel.

Balay Cena Una

F. Lotivio St. Bgy. Bagumbayan
Philippines 4501
Tel: +63.52.435.4338
Mobile: +63.917.827.9520
Visit them at:
Like their FB Page: facebook/CenaUna
Map to Balay Cena Una

Restaurant Hours:
Monday to Saturday – 10:00am to 10:00pm
Sunday – 11:30am to 9:00pm
Sunday – 11:30am to 2:30pm

Related Links:

Balay Suanoy: Feels Like Eating at Home When You Are in Bicol

Small Talk Cafe: Albay's Fusion of Bicolano Cuisine

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  1. the Pasta Cena Una is heavenly.. try also the English Vanilla Cheesecake with Blueberry sauce..

  2. Will do when I'm back in Albay, thanks!

  3. Marhay na Aldaw Mike, Thank you for taking the time to do a post about Balay Cena Una. We're glad that you had a great experience with us. See you soon!


    PS - we're grabbing your panda/BCU thsirt photo.