Like carinderias (cafeterias), barbeque joints and fishball carts, you’ll find a tapsihan everywhere in the Philippines. A tapsihan is a small-scale eatery, usually in a sidestreet location that sells the tapsi variety.
For foreign tourists, here’s a quick lesson in Filipino food vernacular. Tapsi leads a group of savory breakfast meals that combine fried rice with one or two dishes:
As you may have noticed, we Filipinos love our breakfast greasy, savory and heavy. We also love eating our full meals any time of the day, whether for dinner or after a night of heavy drinking. While tapsi is easy to cook at home and is as common as the adobo, a number of tapsi restaurants have made their marks in local neighborhoods.
In my hometown of Cavite, the place to go is Hidden Tapsihan. To call it a hole-in-the-wall spot would be an understatement. It’s more like a top-secret location tucked away in an alley of an old residential town. First timers would find it difficult to look for the place, especially since Cavite isn’t known for having many landmarks or street signs. If you’d like to venture to this place on your own, don’t be afraid to stop and ask for help. While the location would seem intimidating, people here are generally helpful with directions.
For only P100, you’ll have a full tapsilog dish, an ice-cold drink, and enough money to tip the waitress. Their menu of home-cooked Filipino meals with a budget-friendly price is just the half of the food adventure. The highlight of the show is Hidden Tapsi’s secret sauce—their own vinegar concoction. My taste buds tell me that it’s native suka (vinegar) mixed with freshly ground garlic, onion, spices, and heaps of white sugar. Diabetics, you’ve been warned!
If you can’t get enough of the special vinegar, you can purchase it for P45 (small bottle) or P70 (big bottle).
Just don’t be tempted to feed the cats that give you the Puss In Boots stare. They’re Hidden Tapsi’s well-fed pets.
Hidden Tapsihan is located at Mascardo St. Baranggay Wakas-I, Kawit, Cavite.
Open 24 hours