From time to time, I find myself longing for a quick getaway, if only to recharge after a long hectic week. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that happens on a regular basis. But before all the stress swallows me up, I look for a change in scenery—I don’t even have to go anywhere far.
Since Laya first opened in May 2009, I have been intrigued and interested to check it out. So when the opportunity to go there presented itself, I immediately went for it. Laya is the home dining place owned and run by musicians-cum-restaurateurs Chef Ricci Gurango (founder and bassist for “Hungry Young Poets” and “Mojofly”) and wife Irene (vocalist of “Chubibo”). “We knew from the beginning how we wanted Laya to be—we had all the ideas!” Irene shares. Laya soon became a family affair when Irene’s dad (an architect) and her younger sister (an interior design student) stepped in to lend their talent with the house’s look and feel. Meanwhile, she and husband Ricci collaborated on the menu. But when the time came to execute the plans, a few problems arose. Laya was conceptualized only a month before its opening day and because things seemed a bit rushed, the couple only later realized the hurdles that loomed before them.
First of all, the location: Since Laya is in Antipolo, they feared that it might not be easily accessible to most people because of its distance from Metro Manila. Then, they faced another problem, this time, on the nitty-gritty stuff. “We were always arguing about where to put which furniture,” Irene says.
But all that said and done, Laya opened its doors on May 14, 2009. And as with every other new business ventures, one has to allow for some time to adjust and to slowly grow. Fortunately, Laya has been fully booked on most weekends since it began operations last year. Amid all the birth pains, it has emerged as a place that exudes tranquility and strikes a balance between fine dining and relaxing ambience, while bringing you closer to nature. “I don’t like to use the word ‘restaurant’ when referring to Laya because this is a house—our house and we cook from our kitchen for the guests,” Irene stresses. And indeed, I felt less like eating at a stuffy restaurant and more like dining in my friend’s house. On a regular visit to Laya, you will find Irene managing the front of the house and occasionally chatting with the guests. Being the head chef, Ricci makes sure that the food looks and tastes good. For P750, diners can avail of the six course- meal and choose between two menus: the Laya Signatures meal, which are crowd-favorite dishes for the month, and the themed menu that Laya comes up with every week. The six-course-meal comes with refillable Laya signature iced pandan tea, organic kapeng barako or fresh herb tea, an amuse-bouche (a flavorful, bite-sized appetizer meant to awaken the palate) and a palate cleanser.