Kawit’s hidden food haven unveiled

While the “treasure hunting challenge” of finding them certainly attracted customers, it was their food that captivated and turned their customers into patrons. Finding the Hidden Tapsihan surely amounts to discovering treasure as you will be treated to their best-selling tapsilog and special sawsawan as they call it.

They say there’s a hidden kitchen in Kawit that serves stellar quality “tapsi,” among other mouth-watering offerings. It’s time for you to find out and discover the secret yourself.

The place where the ‘secret’ started. With spontaneous patronage and even occasional celebrity visits, it’s not so much a secret anymore but a treasured part and identity of Kawit. Photo via: Hidden Tapsihan

For as long as time immemorial, tapsilog, or simply tapsi, has been a staple meal for Filipinos. Whether it’s a simple mealtime or gathering for friends and families, tapsi has never failed to bring smiles and full stomachs. However, a tapsihan in Kawit is steadily steering its way to acclaim due to its mystery and patronage-approved offering.

The hidden beginning

The story of this restaurant had its beginning at a humble kitchen at Barangay Wakas 1 around 1990. Then 43-year-old Zenaida Graida, who loved cooking (and doing business overall), decided to cook for family members and friends for extra income. It is evident that Aling Zenaida is a good cook with their nameless kitchen gaining popularity.

Until today, Aling Zenaida continues to cook meals at Hidden Tapsihan main Barangay Wakas 1 while Noel handles most of the operational aspects of their business. Photo via: Sir Ruel Quincena

This led to the construction of their historical wooden counter in 1995 which can still be found in their restaurant until today, albeit now clad in cement. As their customers grew, Aling Zenaida had the help of his son Noel in cooking to cater to more people. At the same time, their menu also got diverse, however, their tapsi stood out for great reasons.

The mother and son combo that paved way for Tapsi in Kawit to be recognized in other places. Photo via: Ruel Quincena
Their menu has included more silog combos through time but their tapsi remains an unbeatable combo in the hearts of their customers. Photo via: Ruel Quincena

Treasure hunting at Kawit

As Noel had mentioned, they were not the ones to name their tapsi but their avid customers who enjoyed taking part in what could be called a “treasure hunt” in Kawit.

Since beerhouses and party places emerged in Kawit, the number of visitors from other places also started to rise including those who are intrigued at a “hidden” restaurant somewhere in the municipality. As Noel has stated, their customers are fond of finding this hidden gem in a rural, almost hidden part of the municipality. As such, the name Hidden Tapsihan was coined.

Noel shares the story on how their customers are responsible for their tapsihan’s name. Photo via: Ruel Quincena

While the “treasure hunting challenge” of finding them certainly attracted customers, it was their food that captivated and turned their customers into patrons. Finding the Hidden Tapsihan surely amounts to discovering treasure as you will be treated to their best-selling tapsilog and special sawsawan as they call it.

As to what separates makes their tapsi special from others, Noel boasts the strict use of fresh beef direct from the slaughterhouse. Noel also points out the huge advantage in the quality of fresh beef over those who use frozen meat for their tapsi. But as the term tapsilog pertains to the combination of tapsi, sinangag, and itlog, theirs are complemented by their special sawsawan made from vinegar, onions, and other choice spices. It is easily distinguishable from other vinegar-based sauce with its signature sweet-sour flavor courtesy of onions and other ingredients. Truly perfect for dipping that fresh tapsi which, in itself, is tender and flavorful enough to guarantee another order.

With tapsi made with quality fresh beef and their special sawsawan, you are guaranteed to return… unless you already ordered your second serving immediately. Photo via: Hidden Tapsihan Facebok Page

Not so hidden after all

Sure enough, their popularity and quality food made them gain more customers, even attracting famous individuals such as artists and other prominent figures.

Their humble tapsihan has catered to artists such as rappers Smugglaz and Dello, Gardo Versoza, Nash Aguas, among many others. Even journalists such as sportscaster Chino Trinidad, and anchor Bernadette Sembrano-Aguinaldo, the latter whose spouse is Emilio ‘Orange’ Aguinaldo IV, a Kawiteño himself, joined the steadily increasing number of popular figures who have tried their tapsi.

The Hidden Tapsihan is not so hidden after all as they have been featured in current Mayor Angelo Emilio Aguinaldo’s #TaraSaKawit tourism initiatives such as 2019’s Bloggers Heritage Tour where famous vloggers got to try their tapsi.

This rise in popularity also gave rise to two more branches at Centennial Road in Kawit and one in Bacoor City albeit these two are now situated in highways.

No hidden business

With new normal operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing is hidden with Hidden Tapsihan as they are transparent with the precautions they are implementing to ensure the safety of their workers.

To ensure the safety of their staff and customers, Hidden Tapsihan is more than willing to strictly implement health protocol in their restaurants.

Their restaurants are disinfected regularly and physical distancing is strictly implemented with customers sitting one chair away from each other. Sanitizers are also placed at their counters and tables.

According to Noel, the pandemic has greatly affected their business and the current health protocols reduced the number of customers they can serve. But they are more than willing to strictly implement it to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.

At present, the restaurant accepts dine-in from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM and regularly updates their customers through their Facebook page. So, if you are a tapsilog fan near Kawit or had the chance to visit, trying Hidden Tapsihan is one of the most worthwhile things to do. Discover the tapsi that got people to return for more and know the hidden tapsi gem worthy to unveil to others.

Cover Photo via: Hidden Tapsihan Facebook page

Related Posts
Read More

Pandays in Kawit hope to keep industry going

In the old days, Kawit had a lot of skilled pandays or blacksmiths who made itak and bolo which were used for war for freedom during the 19th century. Sadly, the once booming industry is now a dying business in Cavite. Nanay Marissa, who acquired the foundry from her husband’s ancestors, showed us the art of blacksmithing and the traditional way of making such crafted weapons. These blacksmiths were able to support their children in their studies by this craft.