Panglao has slowly been gaining a reputation as a supporter of food modernization here in Bohol creating joy not only for foreign and local tourists, but also for local residents seeking new culinary adventures. New restaurants tend to come and go but the feeling you have when you eat at L’Isola is that it is here to stay.
Opened only few months ago, L’Isola is located on the national highway in Dao and is owned and managed by Matthias and Mattet, the same young couple who manage Villa Formosa. Their entrance at L’Isola doesn’t scream for attention, so you may have a difficult time finding it because it remains a bit hidden behind their trees.
Once inside you can appreciate the garden and its thick vegetation as it protects you from the noise of the highway and the dust from the current construction. The restaurant itself has a native look with an artsy taste, it’s spacious and can accommodate about 35 people.
The menu offers Asian and Western Cuisine, offering some classic Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Filipino dishes. Just after taking your order, the welcoming staff serve a fresh cucumber relish as a complimentary appetizer; it’s refreshing and makes the waiting for your order more pleasurable.
A must have on their menu are the Siomai; they are moist and have a good balance of sauces and seasonings. Terrific! I was expecting to find the same distinction in the Dumplings but I was a bit dissatisfied by them. Another favourite is the Pad Thai, like most dishes is well prepared and presented. We particularly enjoyed the Red Thai Curry; it wasn’t too spicy like it often happens with Thai food, so you could still taste the chicken, vegetables and some spices in their mix.
From the grill we tried the Pork Ribs and the Chicken Skewers since our first choices, Fish Fillet and Beef Tenderloin were not available. The chicken was very tasty and tender but we felt that the pork needed a bit more effort.
Almost everything was delicately flavoured and well balanced but we were slightly let down by their soups. Asian soups are popular for their fragrance and depth in flavour but the dishes we tried were appealing but a bit bland.
We’ve been visiting the restaurant for a while now, and the feeling we have is that they are still in their settling in phase; not everything in their well sorted menu is available and the management and staff obviously need more smoothness in delivery. But L’Isola is just starting and we accept that. A good start with some fabulous dishes, we are confident of its potential and we all should keep an eye on it.