When it comes to modern Asian cuisine, I always have a lingering question mark on top of my head as I wonder how the chef can transform conventional comfort food into yet another palatable creation. So when we learned from the menu that The Twist by Chef Billy King, the only in-house restaurant and café in the Forest Lodge at Camp John Hay, serves a variety of Asian food, I was psyched. 🙂

The name “Chef Billy King” sounded familiar. Apparently, he’s the famed as “the Anthony Bourdain of the Philippines,” and also the same person who brought Le Soufflé Resto to Manila. With those impressions in mind, I became more interested on how much the dishes at The TWIST would manage to successfully draw approval from our taste buds. Let’s find out! 😀

Review of The Twist Café by Chef Billy King (Forest Lodge, Camp John Hay, Baguio City)

Ambiance: ★★★★★

Offering a comfortable casual dining ambiance, The Twist sits almost adjacent to the front desk area of The Forest Lodge. No doors separate the restaurant and the hotel’s airy and spacious lobby, but still the interior was quiet. The Twist had a consistent rustic theme and bold color contrasts, an intelligent balance between traditional and contemporary.

The handmade and sturdy wooden furniture, tribal decors and Filipino modern paintings illustrating a forest on the side made me feel like being transported to a restaurant in a forest. The chandeliers looking fab and artistically installed on high ceilings made the vibe even cozy and chic. Tables and chairs were neatly arranged and it’s worth mentioning that they can be requested to be moved to fit a certain group of people.

Service: ★★★☆☆

Servers were friendly and informative without being overbearing. Securing their attention was easy and their hospitality was good. My only complaint is that waiting time took too long but not longer than promised: 20-30 minutes.

To be fair, we considered that the restaurant was super packed in the morning, with tables getting filled immediately after customers leave. Many might have availed of The Forest Lodge’s ongoing promotion (reserve for room online from October 8, 2014 to December 19, 2014 and get free breakfast from 6AM to 10AM), thus explaining the overflowing diners.

In the case of lunch, I’m not sure what went on. There were two active tables and it took them about half an hour to deliver our orders on the table. Maybe the kitchen staff were normally busy with operations and maintenance at that time or the dishes were prepared too intricately to win us over. Luckily, there’s free wi-fi and many good views in the hotel to keep us entertained.

Food: ★★★★☆

Lunch – Asian Combinations

We started lunch with Calamari and Prawn Oriental Pasta (PhP 260). To be honest, it wasn’t the best pasta dish I openly recommend. I thought the sauce needed more spices. Just a wee bit of salt and pepper plus a subtle hint of garlic would have made it better. Overall, it can be counted as a nice and light demonstration of simple goodness, with seafood toppings that seemed compatible.

Coming with a generous helping of succulent prawns, the Thai Green Prawn Curry (PhP 380) with vegetable brown rice risotto was delicious. The Thai curry taste may be a bit rare for some people’s liking, but for me it was great! I expected the Thai flavor to be more pronounced though, because of the bright yellow color.


The beautiful sear on the surface of the slice of the Grilled Salmon Fillet (PhP 380) made the fish melt-in-your-mouth, almost. The freshness of the protein shone through, and the lightly sweetened tahini yogurt provided a rich, creamy element together with the vegetable fried rice. Yummy!


The Honey Glazed Crispy Pork Belly (PhP 340) with steamed rice was cooked perfectly, leaving a nice crisp on the skin while the inside remained tender and juicy, locking in all the juices without leaving a greasy aftertaste. The mixture of honey and sauces appealed to us most. No doubt, this is comfort food that you cannot go wrong with. For those who are in the health-conscious zone, this might make you cringe as there’s a rather thick layer of fat in the belly cut. My boyfriend said it’s the fat which made it tasty. 😛


After enjoying four courses, it was then time to let the sweet tooth sink in! We had this Cheesecake (PhP 100) which did not come across as the most photogenic but surely compensated with its strong taste of cheese. This treat is a must-try for all cheesecake fans, and one should stay prepared for the smooth and overwhelming cheese in each bite. 😛


Next, we had the Moist Dark Chocolate Cake (PhP 100) that was so rich that one slice was plenty for five of us to share. Without drinking water or any beverage in between, you’ll feel your mouth hurting in the most pleasurable way imaginable. I bet chocoholics will agree that this chocolate cake is an ultimate indulgence. One-fifth of it was enough for me, and it was the perfect sweet end to our meal.


Stealing the limelight with glistening surface, the Crème Caramel with Fresh Mango (PhP 120) appeared like the classic leche flan. Delicately shaped and sculpted, the caramel custard had a smooth and silky texture, with consistency that was slightly set and very creamy.


Less tantalizing on the eyes, Banana Bread (PhP 150) wasn’t too sweet and not quite decadent as well. As I was looking for a more “banana” taste and more moisture for the bread, it didn’t pass as a big of a hit as compared to the other desserts we had for lunch. Maybe I’m just so used to Red Ribbon’s Banana Crunch Slice that I found The Twist’s version to be lacking in flavor. No ground nuts and cereals but basic banana bread as it is? Meh. 🙁

Breakfast

We were advised that The Forest Lodge does not offer breakfast buffet for its guests but only a la carte meals. That’s fine for us, as long as the food to be served would be equally decent. At least for myself, I thought it’s a positive way of getting the “hidden bonus”: it won’t lead to a significant increase in food intake. 😛 So yeah, we were presented with a menu of Filipino breakfast sets all served with fried egg, grilled tomatoes and garlic fried rice. Hooray for a carbohydrates-loading breakfast!

Well marinated, the Fried Daing na Bangus (PhP 245) was fried to perfection and it’s obvious from the color. It tasted like it was cooked from home. I particularly liked that the milkfish fish was boneless, otherwise I would have a hard time eating it.

Not lacking in terms of fragrance, the Pancakes with Syrup and Butter Cream (PhP 195) were really good. While the edges of the pancake was crisp and brittle (in a good sense), the middle portion remained warm, moist and soft.


I didn’t know that there are numerous versions of longganisa in the Philippines until last two years ago. A friend had me try longganisa from Vigan, Ilocos which is very different from the only longganisa taste and texture from Pampangga that I used to know. The one from Ilocos is tangy with a hint of slightly smokey pungent flavor of “sukang iloco” or sugarcane vinegar. I’d say it’s more favorable.

This time ’round, we had the chance to try Baguio Longganisa (4 pieces) (PhP 245) for the first time. Compared to Vigan’s, it was less juicy, less on the sweet side and more savory.


Another breakfast favorite among the Filipinos, The Twist’s Beef Tapa (PhP 285) had the right combination of sweet and salty. The cured beef was not too chewy but tender enough.


The Tocino (PhP 245) was okay. It’s the tocino (Filipino bacon) you’d usually get, nicely pan-fried to the right texture and relatively without fat. It tasted a tad like “bak kwa” (肉干) but the softer kind.

Each breakfast set is served with a choice of pineapple juice, coffee or hot chocolate. We preferred coffee and hot choco.

Price for Value: ★★★★☆

The Twist at Forest Lodge, Camp John Hay is an attraction on its own—that is, if you’re going to CJH just to dine in as you’re staying in a different hotel overnight. Albeit there were some misses, we enjoyed the food on the whole. If you’re planning to eat here, it will be good to check with the serving staffs for recommendations based on your appetite.

For the price conscious, you would be most delighted to learn that the prices on the menu are affordable considering that you’re dining in a hotel, and the food is value for money.

Upper Ground Floor, Forest Lodge, Camp John Hay, Loakan Road, Baguio City
For inquiries, call (074)422-2075 to 76 / (074) 422-2080 to 81
Date Published: 11/04/2014
16 / 20 stars

About 

An IT person by profession; Foodie by nature; Wushu athlete by training; Dancer by heart; Writer by passion; Hasn't met a piece of cake she didn't like 🙂

99 Responses

  1. mr_jeng

    woah, the place looks nice although, I am a bit scared to try out this restaurant because I might break the vintage looking chairs. Hmmm.. I like how you mentioned Bak kwa in reference to tocino. Now I can’t help but remember Bee Cheng Hiang in SG.. Gosh.. deadly stuff right? … I am glad you enjoyed the restaurant as a whole although, I am a bit worried on the waiting game. Have a great day Roch 😀

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Whahaha don’t be scared. The chairs looked durable for long-term performance and value. 😛

      You don’t need to go to Singapore to taste edible and delicious bak kwa. Visit Chinatown in Binondo and you’ll see lots of stores selling it in good quality and taste. It can be quite addicting!

      Thanks, Jeng!

      Reply
      • mr_jeng

        WAIT!! WHERE IN CHINATOWN!!!!!?!?!?! Nako magpapabili ako sa iyo next time we meet! Don’t worry i will pay for it! Pero I am soooo craving. 😀 😀 😀 😀 … sayang I was just in 168 a week back. Dang if only I knew thanks thanks!!!

      • Rochkirstin Santos

        Haha I can feel your excitement really when your words are in capital letters. 😆 You can buy from Chinese delicacy stores in Ongpin Street! Yeah sure, just tell me. 😀

  2. Vance

    For a good looking resto and nice homey ambiance, I was kind of expecting enticing & comfort foods. But there seemed to be nothing special about their Twist Cafe except for its forest in a forest theme. I wish they had more appetizing meals that could truly whet our appetite.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The menu seemed to be chocked full of flavorful items to partake, however, we didn’t risk ordering those that looked very foreign and unfamiliar. The dishes we tried were good overall.

      Reply
  3. mindy

    So…much…good food… in one post, i can’t take it! LOL, j/k! Wah, Filipino’s breakfasts are sure quite heavy, just like Indonesian breakfasts haha. We’re Asians sure love our rice, must have them since early in the morning >.<. My Caucasian friends are often fascinated with what we have for breakfast (most popular breakfast for Indonesian : fried rice) and wonder how we stay in the smaller side with all those food *LOL*

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah haha I’m also used to having a rice meal for breakfast since I work long hours in the office every day. When on vacation, I’m still looking for rice in the morning to start my day. 🙂 I don’t understand how some people don’t eat breakfast at all or eat minimally.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You’re welcome! I hope I’ve successfully given you a picture on what and how it’s like to have a complete meal at The Twist. You may decide what you want to have prior your visit.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yup, I make it a point to share the best (or worst) of our experiences.

      It may seem that the moist chocolate cake was a petite offering, but the reality is that it’s good for sharing. 🙂 The chocolate melted instantly in our mouths and was very smooth indeed.

      Reply
  4. Fi Ní Neachtáin

    This restaurant really does look lovely and it’s great that it gave you a ‘dining in the forest’ atmosphere. I love the look of the food, especially the breakfast options.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Local cuisine for breakfast has always been our go-to food when traveling anywhere in the Philippines. And there’s no better way to enjoy a Filipino meal than having it in this wonderful luscious setting. 🙂

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Frankly we were quite sad at first when we learned that The Twist doesn’t offer breakfast buffet. Luckily, The Twist’s a la carte breakfast menu has enough options for us to be satisfied.

      Reply
  5. Carmen Perez

    The place looks nice, and the food looks delicious! Great detailed review!

    Reply
  6. Michele D

    Looks like a great place to grab something to eat. That chocolate cake looks delicious.

    Reply
  7. Pam

    I just love the look of the café, and especially those tables. The chocolate cake looks divine!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The richness of the chocolate was a little satiating on our appetite so if you’re thinking of ordering it, let me suggest that you pair it with tea or coffee, or have it to share. 😉

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Wow, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the cool weather with some cool gear in December. Include touring in Camp John Hay in your itinerary. You can go spend half a day here! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Nile

    You keep reviewing and posting pics for places that just have fabulous looking food. I’m hungry and now want some cheesecake… lol.

    I love the wood used in the structure of the restaurant and how it’s all consistent and works into a simpistic design.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I’m happy to share every dining experience with you. 🙂 The ambiance at The Twist is simultaneously modern and warm, owing to solid design and (obviously) wood accents. While service was just fair, food was generally good. There were more menu options catching our eye than we could order in one sitting.

      Reply
  9. Wanderer Juan

    I am no fussy eater that’s why I can’t give in-depth reviews on food like you haha, the food looks good and the review unbiased as always 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha. I actually notice I become fussier with food I eat with every new restaurant I go to. It’s good that there’s the challenge to please me with good food each time. 😛 Thanks, Joshua!

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I’m not sure if you fancy Asian food all the same but most probably you’ll love the chocolate cake. Just breaking off a decadent mouthful of it can satisfy your taste buds and your your sweet tooth will go wild. 😀

      Reply
  10. Liz Mays

    Even though you had some mixed results, the pork belly and the chocolate cake would be enough to make me happy. They looked great!

    Reply
  11. Fernando Lachica

    The place’s great with colors complementing with furniture. Yes, I agree with the food, the plating lacks some image-crushing appetite. I like the grilled salmon filet.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      When in doubt, I always choose salmon among all the selections on the menu. It’s my favorite dish and it was good that The Twist’s rendition of the dish didn’t disappoint. 🙂 #HappyTummy

      Reply
  12. Myrabev

    wow the food looks amazing and this lodge is absolutely beautiful, I love this review and how you have started each section shame for me as I am reading this post whilst very hungry not a very good combination because now I want this exact food

    Reply
  13. Teri

    Sometimes how the food looks is a great deal too me, I hate some foods just because it doesn’t look delicious. Welcome to Baguio City. I always visit that city whenever I’m in mood since it’s not far from where I live in. That’a lot of food to indulge with.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hey, take note that there were five of us sharing the lunch and breakfast food hahaha. I think the portions are only fair. We didn’t want to be too stuffed. These are good dishes but there must be room for improvement in terms of presentation.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Are you referring to the recipe or the real thing? I can’t do both, sorry haha. 😛 At least now you have something to look forward to when dining at The Twist.

      Reply
  14. Sumi Go | The Purple Doll

    I initially thought prices would be higher since it’s a hotel restaurant plus owned by a famous chef. Good to know that price tags are very reasonable. 🙂 And I just had a really strong craving upon seeing that daing na bangus with rice and eggs! Been a while since I last had some!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh yeah I thought so too. The prices here are at par only with the restaurants we are used to dine in Manila. They’re okay as hotel restaurant food. 🙂 Ahh haha get well and completely healed very soon, Sumi! I’ll pray for your fast recovery.

      Reply
  15. Rebecca Swenor

    What a wonderfully gorgeous place to dine indeed. The food all looks so deliciously amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You’re welcome, Rebecca! This is just a glimpse of what’s available and what’s cooking in The Twist’s kitchen. There are more great items on the menu. 🙂

      Reply
  16. Lynndee

    If there’s one thing that I miss the most in my home country, the Philippines, it is the…FOOD!!! I’m drooling. LOL.

    Reply
  17. Risa

    Your reviews are always so thorough! If I lived in the area I would know just what places to check out! Thanks for sharing. The food looks really good and I love the paintings on the wall. I see one of a peacock that looks so pretty!

    Reply
  18. Nicci

    The mango dessert and the Honey Glazed Crispy Pork Belly would be what I would try. Your pictures make the food look awesome!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh yes. 🙂 Even my mom’s cooking is great so I’m just grateful that the lord gave me such blessing. Eating delicious food every day is really something to be thankful for.

      Reply

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