On my recent journey to Liliw, Laguna to chase waterfalls, I have learned of a different kind of gem that the locals have been raving about. Most of them head to Mabini Street not to buy the famed Liliw Tsinelas (Slippers/Footwear) but to get a taste of their favorite Rice Toppings from Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan. But what is so special about Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan that the locals just can’t get enough of it?
Nothing Beats Good Food
In this day and age when food establishments pop up in every corner, every day, what are the odds for your business venture to be noticed and thrive? The answer is that the FOOD MUST BE GOOD! Even the fanciest décor or the most expensive chinaware have nothing against good food. Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan hit the mark in that aspect.
Having a broad background in cooking, the owner developed all the recipes in their menu. They gave the Chao Fan or Chinese Fried Rice a local twist by incorporating the flavors of the smoky and garlicky skinless longganiza tossed in cooked fluffy white rice with mixed vegetables seasoned with a splash of soya sauce. Although the fried rice can stand on its own, the real treat is with the variety of toppings that you can choose from.
Tickle your taste buds with the all-time classics like *Lechon (don’t forget to pour in the savory sauce over your Lechon), *Pork Adobo, Lumpiang Shanghai (sweet and sour sauce goes best with this one), Siomai and Longganiza. If you’re not a meat lover they also have Fish Fillet, Tofu, **Tortang Talong, **Tortang Pako (fern) and **Tortang Patatas. All these toppings and sauces were made from scratch every day.
*Best Sellers / **Torta = omelet
Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan – Very Affordable Price
Imagine a crispy and sumptuous Lechon and heavenly Cream Dory Fish Fillet at only PHP 30.00 (less than a dollar), it couldn’t get more affordable than that elsewhere. I can assure you that the servings are not miniscule. Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan is reasonably priced at no more than PHP 30.00 for a complete meal of fried rice and topping. Every meal is served with FREE soup too.
Each topping is also sold ala carte (except for Lechon and Pork Adobo) starting from as low as PHP 5.00 – PHP 30.00. If you want it to go, just add PHP 5.00 or you can bring your own container and plate if you don’t want to shell out that precious extra penny.
Cooked to Order
One of the best parts of Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan is that their food are cooked to order right in front of their customers. All of the major items are cooked ala minute with the exception of Lechon and Pork Adobo (both are required to cook for a long period of time). The live cooking was such a good idea, their customers can expect that the food is always fresh and hot when served.
Fast Service and Friendly Staff
Aside from having good food, Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan also knows the importance of rendering speedy service and being friendly all the time.
Considering that the food is made to order, there is a minimal wait time of only 5 minutes. During their peak hours from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM, they have implemented a way to organize the huge crowd that congregate in front of the counter. They came up with a numbering system wherein the customers will be asked to take a number and when the numbers are called, the customers would come up in front to place their orders. If it gets really hectic, it would take only 10 minutes tops to wait.
Nevertheless, all of their customers were willing and patient enough to hang around for their orders to be taken and for the food to be served.
The Humble Beginning
Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan was the brainchild of Baltazar Royo Montejo, or more popularly known as Kuya Bal to his neighbors, hence the name.
It started as a barbecue and fish ball stand in May 2016 in front of their compound along Mabini Street. While the barbecue business was doing well, the owner had a vision that he could still take it up a notch. He couldn’t just stop there, until one day, inspiration struck him to serve Chao Fan.
So, with the owner’s strong business acumen, and extensive culinary background as a retired chef onboard a cruise ship, Kuya Bal developed his own recipes and menu. Still occupying the same corner, he set up some tables and a makeshift tent and launched the Chao Fan by July of the same year and it was an instant hit! He slowly transitioned from serving barbecue to a full-on Chao Fan stand.
With the growing clientele and tasks at hand, he needed to hire some staff. And to give back to the neighborhood that made him a success, he employed some of the out of school youths without requiring anything else but for them to be a dedicated worker and must be willing to learn. He now has a total of 10 staff working with him, 5 of which are out of school.
A Bright Future
Business has been good since the launch a few months ago. It’s location along the sidewalk of Mabini Street even played to their advantage. Personally, I think that it had a positive impact to the customers as it is very relatable and accessible to all market classes. The people from its own neighborhood don’t get tired of the food that they serve. In fact, it has become a bonding moment for the whole family, group of friends, officemates, classmates, etc. to eat at Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan. The neighbors have been very supportive of his business enterprise and if in case Kuya Bal needed additional tables, he can just borrow it from any of the houses nearby. All in the spirit of “Bayanihan” (Unity).
All thanks to word of mouth, the future looks bright for the business. And I have learned that people from neighboring towns of Nagcarlan and Majayjay have heard about the buzz and have rushed to Liliw to get a taste Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan. The best part was they’ve brought their friends and families along with them every time they come back. Others came all the way as far as Rizal and San Pablo City which was like a 30 to 45-minute drive just to see and taste it for themselves. I’ve seen it for myself and it was actually surprising and a bit crazy (in a good way) to the point of being unbelievable as to where all those people came from.
To be honest, there was nothing special on the menu of Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan, the owner said it himself. The recipes are readily available anywhere and you can even cook it on your own, at home. However, it was the unintimidating ambience and the convenience that it provides its consumers. The agile service and its ardent staff. The budget-friendly, unpretentious, flavorful and prepared from the heart comfort food and the overall experience that made it to stand out. It seemed to be the perfect recipe that the locals just can’t get enough of.
So, whenever you visit Liliw, Laguna, don’t forget to stop by Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan.
Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan
Mabini Street, Brgy. Masikap, Liliw, Laguna – From Nagcarlan, take the first street on the right after “Welcome to Liliw” marker.
Opening Hours: 3:00 PM – 12:00 AM / Monday – Sunday (Closed on Holidays)
Liked this post? Pin it and Share it!
How about you? Have you been to Liliw, Laguna? Have you tried Kuya Bal’s Chao Fan? How was your experience? Do you have other recommendations? Share your thoughts.