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Rediscovering Halina Restaurant & what it was famous for

I checked out homegrown diner Halina Restaurant at noon today at its location at the Arenas Building along Pendatun Avenue across the GenSan Oval Plaza.  I needed to find out if it was still serving its bestsellers which made it famous during its heydays in the 80s.

The main dining area was still as spacious as I remembered it,  more so by the fact that only one table was occupied by a couple enjoying their lunch.  There was nobody else around aside from them and I had to call out for the waiter who was then busy having his lunch in one dimly-lit passage beside the counter. Found out that this waiter was also the cashier.

I immediately ordered what I came for and took my seat near the entrance with its good vantage of the street.  While waiting for my food, the big clunky TV hanging on the ceiling showing an old Regal movie starring Babalu and Redford White tried to entertain me.

Halina Restaurant looks like it needs a major make-over.  The walls and the ceiling cry out for a repaint and the decor or what looked like figurines seemed headed for antique shops. The package airconditioning unit near the door has a big sign which says, “OUT OF ORDER”  and I had to plug in the only stand fan I found inside near my table to cool me.

I remember that Halina Restaurant used to be the choice venue for weddings, parties, conferences and seminars because of its location at the heart of the city and its attractively priced food packages.   It was also a favorite hangout of students and young professionals since they served the one of the best chicken barbecues in GenSan and other short orders at very popular prices.

Article:  GenSan’s 5 Best Chicken Barbecues

My personal favorite though was their papait and its melt-in-your-mouth slices of goat’s meat and innards minus the “goat” taste and smell.   It was so delicious that I always order it for snacks since lunch or dinner was reserved for their Mongolian Chicken Barbecue.

While reminiscing Halina’s glory days, the waiter cum cashier arrived and served my Mongolian Barbecue with Java Rice!  God!  It smelled sooo inviting and looked so appetizing!  I had to take its photo first before helping myself to it with my bare hands.

Upon taking my first bite out of the chicken leg, memories of pleasant afternoons shared at Halina with my old friends came rushing back!  The taste was the same as I had imagined and remembered it.  No fancy flavors, no overpowering spices …. it is still Halina’s old, home-grilled style delicious juicy and tender chicken!

The yellow java rice, although oily now for me for comfort is still the Mongolian Chicken Barbecue‘s perfect foil!

Next came the Papait which still came served piping hot in a small bowl just like the old times.

I nearly burned my tongue at my first sip of the Papait’s soup.  I felt it needed more ooomph but then again, I remembered that it was actually Halina Restaurant’s original version of this goat dish – not too strong and minus the pungent smell.  The big vertical slices of meat were still as tender as only Halina could serve them and tasted as heavenly as before.

In less than 15 minutes, I devoured everything, with my mind set at returning once more before the week is over!

By the time that I was paying for my bill, four more tables have been occupied by other diners, all of them ordering Halina’s still famous-as-ever Mongolian Chicken Barbecue, a testament to a lesson that I have learned today to “never ever judge a restaurant by its looks alone but by the food that it whips out“.

Halina Restaurant’s Mongolian Chicken Barbecue is priced at P90 while its Papait will cost you only P40. It still has not jumped into the “unlimited rice” bandwagon of GenSan’s ubiquitous chicken restaurants.

About Avel Manansala

Avel Manansala aka Bariles, is a native of a bustling city down south of Mindanao Island. He is a consultant on Blogging, Social Media, and Marketing . He is co-founder and head of the SoCCSkSarGen Bloggers and manager of Google Business Group (GBG)- General Santos. You may add him to your circles on G+ - If you need more info on any of these fields, please leave him a message.

View all posts by Avel Manansala →

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  1. lito says:

    ito na lang ang panlaban nila:masarap at affordable na pagkain kaya nagtagal sila sa business… binalikbalikan talaga sila ng mga customers…

  2. ahgarcera says:

    hmmmm if I could remember it clearly mga between 2000 – 2004 I guess…??? before diyan kameh madalas every last day of the sscol year or kung may mga gathering2 or handaan sah garcera…

  3. Toinks says:

    Tatagal talaga ang isang restaurant na may passion at consistency.

  4. nice A says:

    ayyyy, the last time i was at halina’s was, i think, in 2001, in a wedding. sayang, masarap pa nman ang mongolian barbecue nila tlga sana mag-renovate naman sila! oiiiii, ginutom mo ako sa papait, k. avel! merry christmas!!!

  5. Sonny says:

    Delisyoso! I will visit Halina =)

  6. gensanite says:

    treat mo ako diyan, Kuy!!! uwi ako sa 26th… mag-suprise visit lang ako sa city hall… mamulabog ko didto sa imong office… hehehe… see you soon!!! 🙂

  7. Mark says:

    i’ved never been yet to Halina, pero i ahm curious and wondering how it tastes like thier very own mongolian chicken bbq…sa photo pa lng msarap na pano p kya sa personal… hmmm, i will visit it soon and hopefully satisifies my appetite.. heheh, its now time to share this to all my friends to pra nmn kht papano pag napanin ng owners n bumabalik na ang sigla den bka maisipan n nla na mgrenovate to attract more and more Generals and Visitors! (^_^)

  8. fahdingding says:

    Yes..pambato talaga nila yung Mongolian Chicken BBQ… Kulang lang sila sa marketing.

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