Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Ever since I started Sushi Bytes, there have been a few older experiences that I’ve been meaning to relive for the sake of this blog. A birthday dinner with Ren at Lolo Dad’s, a two-week Costa cruise with my in-laws, my first-ever mouthful of oyster wasabi tempura from Kai. Unforgettable experiences like that, regardless of how big or small, make me wish I had started this blog ten years earlier.

Today’s lunch, at this beautifully landscaped pottery garden and restaurant in Tiaong, Quezon, has long been tops on that list. Located roughly three hours south of Manila, it’s home to celebrated pottery artist Augusto “Ugu” Bigyan, who opened his home and garden to the public as an art gallery, workshop studio, and reservations-only restaurant in 2000. Thanks to my mom, who’s been coming here for years either to dine with friends or to partake in Ugu’s pottery workshops, we got to experience the magic of this place for the first time, over five years ago, in 2008.

In awe today as I was back then, it’s one of those special places that you never forget. It takes your breath away and makes you feel happy sharing it with others. Personally, I’ve only been to a handful of establishments like that in and around Manila. Antonio’s in Tagaytay is one. Sonya’s Garden, with better food, could be another. An enriching experience in every aspect, Ugu Bigyan’s secret pottery garden and restaurant is high on that list for me, and I am so happy to finally get the chance to share it with you all here. πŸ˜€

For anyone planning a trip there, I’ve included detailed DRIVING DIRECTIONS at the bottom of this post.

In and Around the Pottery Garden

Ugu’s house. Love those brick arches and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Scattered about the beautifully landscaped, Bali-inspired garden are these open-air terracotta huts for dining or just lounging.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Ugu makes beautiful wind chimes. Or are they dividers? Regardless, they’re purtty.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

A more intimate nook for couples or smaller groups
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Giant mango tree in the middle of the courtyard
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Greenery all around
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Fresh flowers too
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

L: A larger dining table for groups of ten. R: Work area out back, where Ugu’s elves were busily fashioning many beautiful pottery pieces
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

As mentioned up top, you can take pottery lessons with Ugu. Since many students come all the way from Manila, you’re allowed to stay here overnight, maybe more. I’m assuming that this is one of the rooms where guests can stay. If you’re interested in taking pottery lessons here, then I suggest contacting Ugu directly via the information at the bottom of this post.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Nature makes me happy.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Rustic chic birdhouse. Even the birds live in style here.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

More chimes. Too bad there wasn’t much wind today.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

The Main Dining Area and Our Feast

Aside from serving terrific Filipino and Asian fusion dishes, my favorite thing about the restaurant is that you have no idea what you’ll be eating until it’s served to you. They have no menu, with Ugu preparing the meal himself based on what’s available at the market that day. Suffice to say, only the freshest ingredients are used.

As of this writing, the set meal costs PHP 6,000 for a minimum of ten people, reservations for which must be made in advance. You can come in a smaller group, but you’ll need to pay for the full ten, which is what we did. Trust me, with the variety and volume of delicious, home-cooked dishes that you’ll be getting, this meal is worth every centavo in my book, and one which I’ll happily take over any buffet in Manila.

Don’t believe me? Keep scrolling. πŸ˜‰
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Fresh orchids at every table
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Here’s ours. Aren’t those giant earthenware cups awesome? By the way, when admiring the scrumptious-looking dishes below, don’t forget to notice the plates, cups, and bowls as well. All beautiful, all made by Ugu of course. πŸ˜‰
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Refreshing bowl of buko juice to quench your thirst
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Clam soup. The clams tasted so clean and fresh!
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Mussels with garlic, onions, and pechay. Fresh and flavorful, this dish was one of my favorites.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

L: Kulawo or banana hearts. This is arguably Ugu’s most well-known and beloved dish, and with good reason. Cooked with charcoal, it’s smokey and creamy and has a texture reminiscent of tuna meat. Absolutely delicious.

R: Beautiful, tender, lightly battered calamari.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Pako or fern salad. If you’ve never had this before, it’s a bright, refreshing, Filipino salad of edible fern. Ugu makes his with slivers of tart, green apples. Very nice!
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Blue marlin steaks in some sweet and sour sauce with fresh mango salad. Again, very refreshing!
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Smokey, slide-off-the-bone pork spareribs with barbecue sauce.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Fresh, perfectly cooked, succulent, jumbo shrimp in curry sauce. Loved loved loved these.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Dessert of tapioca pearls with gabi (taro), arnibal (caramel), and coconut milk. Dee-licious!
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

In mid-obliteration. For what amounts to just PHP 600 per head, you get a substantial amount of food served in a beautiful, rustic setting. I told you it was worth every centavo. πŸ˜‰
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Pottery Gallery and Shop

I don’t have much experience with pottery, but even my untrained eye can see that Ugu’s work truly is unique. You can admire and pick up a few of his one-of-a-kind pieces here at the gallery and shop.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Some of his more whimsical pieces
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Beautiful earthenware
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Casing for lambanog bottles. If you’ve never had lambanog, it’s a potent wine made from coconut. These are a great way to hide the unappetizing, overly saturated, artificial-looking colors that the lambanog comes in.
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Wall hangings with leaves and birds
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Decorative plates
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

More birds and chimes
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

The artist’s statement: “Challenges drive me to survive and they make me stronger every time I work with clay.”
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Potted Potters

Here we are after another terrific meal, courtesy of Mr. Ugu Bigyan. As before, the experience didn’t disappoint. Thank you so much Ugu!
Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Five years after our first visit, Ugu’s pottery garden and restaurant is still as immaculate and well kept as ever. The gardens are thriving, fresh flowers can be found at every table, and no signs of dilapidation are visible anywhere. The place looks unspoiled, as if it were opened just yesterday.

From the moment you walk in, it becomes apparent that much love is put into everything they do here, and that for me, is what makes this place truly special. With plans of eventually moving to Lipa to start our own residential farm and painting studio, I can’t help but feel inspired by Ugu and all the wonderful things that he’s done here.


The Fastest Way to Get There From Manila

We got these directions from Ugu’s sister Heidi, and she guaranteed that this is the quickest route to take. We left the Quezon City Scout area at 9:30 AM on a Tuesday, and arrived at Ugu’s place around three hours later at 12:30 PM. Minus peak EDSA rush hour traffic and congestion in San Jose because of a fiesta, we probably could have done it in just over two hours. Not bad at all, considering that many blogs recount a four hour trip from Manila.

  1. Drive southbound on SLEX all the way until end, when it becomes ACTEx. There are no signs (at least as of this writing), but you’ll know that you’re on ACTEx when you reach another toll plaza and pay an additional PHP 25.
  2. After crossing the ACTEx toll plaza, take the Sto. Tomas exit. It’s important to note that before you reach the ACTEx toll booth, you’ll see an exit called Lucena / Sto. Tomas. Ignore this one. The Sto. Tomas exit you want is the one right AFTER you cross the ACTEx toll plaza.
  3. Turn right upon exiting.
  4. Stay on this main road and drive straight towards the towns of Alaminos, San Pablo, then Tiaong. This is the main stretch of the journey and will take around two hours, depending on traffic. Just stay on this main road, ignore the minor forks, and you’ll be fine.
  5. After around 2 hours, you’ll see Villa Escudero on your left. Shortly after driving past it and through a welcome arch, make a left at the Lucena / Bicol bypass. You’ll see a sign for it.
  6. Drive all the way until the end, then turn left.
  7. Watch out for the Iglesia ni Cristo next to the Petron station on your right. Immediately after passing them, make a left onto the very first street that you see. It’s a small street, with the sign Lusacan National High School at the corner.
  8. Go straight until you see a sign for Alvarez Village. Make a left there, and Ugu’s place will be the third house on your left, pictured below. You can’t miss it because it’s the only house made of brick.

Ugu Bigyan's Secret Pottery Garden and Restaurant, Tiaong, Quezon

Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant

490 Alvarez Village. Brgy Lusacan, 4325 Tiaong, Quezon
Tel: (042) 545-9144 / (042) 545-8689
Mobile: 0917-560-5708 / 0917-560-7973
Facebook: ugubigyan
Email: ugubigyan@yahoo.com
Operating Hours: Mon-Sun: 9AM-5PM
Payment Options: Visa / Mastercard

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.Β Β He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.Β Β Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Maricar Endozo at 10:52 am

    omg! it’s almost dinner here and i’m drooling….yummy! thanks for blogging. can’t wait to try it sometime.

  2. JB Macatulad at 10:59 am

    Yup Tita Mari! It’s super worth it. Next time you and Don are here, let’s get a group together and go. Madali lang maghakot ng sampu. Haha! πŸ™‚

  3. gemma at 4:52 pm

    Please provide me with price list of your pottery items

  4. marianne glauser at 11:24 am

    It was nice and beautiful place.Well keep and very clean.Looking forward to visit this place with my husband and daughter very soon.I am very fascinated to this kind of products.

  5. Joane Chanco at 12:06 am

    Are you open on Holy Thursday, Friday and Black Saturday? πŸ™‚

  6. Amelia Dela Rosa at 7:47 am

    How about price of the food? Do you think it is reasonable?

  7. JB Macatulad at 7:58 am

    Hi Amelia, the price of the food is very reasonable. When we went, it was PHP 6,000 and good for a minimum of 10 people. The food is delicious and there’s a lot of it. Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

  8. Pingback: Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden - Currystrumpet
  9. Tetet Protacio at 3:22 pm

    Can we just drop by to look at the pottery and not eat there. We’re planning a viaje del sol and this is one of our pitstop

  10. Eloisa Austero at 5:19 pm

    I am interested in pottery making sessions, would greatly
    appreciate any information you can provide. I live in Naga City.

    Many thanks
    Eloisa

  11. JB Macatulad at 8:05 pm

    Hi Eloisa, I’m sorry but we’re not affiliated with Ugu Bigyan in any way. I suggest contacting him directly using the information above.

  12. Olga at 1:02 pm

    I am wondering if I can make a reservation for this weekend Friday Saturday or Sunday.

  13. JB Macatulad at 6:28 pm

    Hi Olga, I’m sorry but we’re not affiliated with Ugu Bigyan at all. You’ll need to contact him directly. Please refer to the bottom of this post for contact details.

  14. ivy at 4:16 pm

    love this blog. makes me wanna go there now! but, how do you go there via commute?

  15. JB Macatulad at 4:26 pm

    Hi Ivy, sorry but I’m not sure. I suggest calling the number listed on this post. They’re very helpful so I’m sure they can give you directions on how to get there by commute. Hope you make it there! πŸ™‚

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