Text & images by Monette Bichsel, Zurich
Two years after Papa Oro’s restaurant debuted in February 2019, I finally made the pilgrimage from Winterthur all the way to Baden to taste the authentic Filipino kitchen I’ve heard so much about within my circle of friends.
Lending itself to the promise of authentic Filipino cuisine, the offerings are reminiscent of carinderia offerings and homestyle cooked meals: adobo, beef tapa, pork tocino, lechon manok, pansit, lumpiang gulay and shanghai. The restaurant also features food fit for fiesta: sisig, crispy pata, sinigang, dinuguan and, my favorite dish, kare-kare. And, perhaps, a testament to Papa Oro’s knack for transforming Filipino food into something modern and hip, the menu includes bao buns and snack cones filled with Pinoy viands.
Eager for a taste of home, I ordered beef tapa while my husband opted for lechon manok, both served in a bowl with garlic rice and vegetable side dishes. When I requested for vinegar, I even got pinakurat (spiced vinegar), because one cannot truly enjoy Filipino food without the sawsawan (dipping sauce).
After a spoonful, I understood how this rare gem of a restaurant could compete with the other, more ubiquitous Asian restaurants that Swiss people, or Europeans in general, are used to eating. It can even go head-to-head with traditional Swiss restaurants, as demonstrated by another customer, a young Swiss guy with his friends, who walked in, eager to have adobo.
The tenderized beef tapa almost melted in my mouth; the souring ingredient, unmistakably calamansi. Together with garlic rice and a splash of pinakurat, I was transported back to our kitchen in Quezon City on a Sunday when my family sat together for breakfast after the morning mass. The lechon manok boasted a strong lemongrass and soy sauce marinade, much how I like my inasal prepared before it hits the hot charcoal grill, recalling the countless beach outings with friends where we would cook pulutan to go with SanMig Light. Wishing to extend this experience, I ordered their light and fluffy ube cake, topped with halayang ube to take home.
“The restaurant is an extension of our home; the doors are always open,” Oro Guevarra says in an interview with the Badener Tagblatt. Together with his wife, Virginia, and two daughters, Anja and Tatjana, Papa Oro manifests his love of being around people by living out his passion and preparing dishes for his guests and customers.
For Filipinos dislocated by migration, finding an authentic Filipino restaurant is so much more. It provides a place of commune amongst kababayans, a place that offers the comfort and joy of hearing Filipino being spoken amidst the local language, and a place of familiarity among the wafting flavors of Filipino food. Papa Oro’s allows homesick Filipinos to open a potful of memories from home.
PAPA ORO'S Filipino Rice Bowls & More
Weite Gasse 29, Baden
Mon - Sat: 11:00 – 20:00
PAPA ORO'S Filipino Take Away
Bahnhof SBB Metroshop, Baden
Mon - Fri: 11:00 – 19:00 | Sat: 11:00 – 16:00