I was really amused every time we were out on the roads. Aside from the many old yet elegant looking houses and churches that punctuates the streets, there is also more than one eatery, cafe or restaurant on the same street too! There is just too many things to try in this little food haven!
It’s really hard to get hungry when you are in Iloilo…
[Philippines December 2013]
7 EATS in Iloilo
Frankly speaking, this was more of an eating trip than anything else kudos to the hospitable friend and her family. The longest my jaw rested was probably about an hour before it starts working on whatever I am eating again.
So here’s putting together a quick list of some of the notable food you can look out for when you are in Iloilo…
1. RCJ Bibingka
Bibingka is a traditional Filipino rice cake made with mainly rice flour and coconut milk and it used to be a delicacy during Christmas. The traditional preparation method uses a terra cotta container lined with banana leaf to bake the cake mixture over preheated coals while some modern methods these days uses actual ovens and ordinary cake pans.
And RCJ Bibingka still uses the traditional method to prepare their bibingka, no wonder it’s a popular choice among the locals! I’m not sure where you can find them all year round but we managed to spot their popup stall at Jaro Plaza during Christmas week!
Anyway, the soft and spongy textured rice cake is eaten warm and although I am hardly a sweet treats kind of person, there is this distinctive charred banana leaf flavor that got me so attracted to it!
2. Buko Shake
We chanced upon a Buko – Ilonggo stall while we were doing grocery shopping at Iloilo Supermart in preparations for our Christmas feast at home and decided to give their buko shake a try.
Then I was rather unsure about the young coconut milkshake and the regular serving quantity, thinking that I will get too bloated before I reach the base of the bottle but I was all wrong! In fact, it was so tasty and refreshing that it will surely make a good drink on a hot summer day! And needless to say, if it appears here, I am so going to say that you need to try this yourself!
3. Tatoy’s Manokan & Seafoods
I had seen multiple mentions on Tatoy’s Manokan & Seafoods while I was doing my research prior to the actual trip out in Iloilo. Taking into considerations the geographical location of Iloilo, where a big part of the city is located just beside the sea, it is said that you can get really fresh, cheap and good seafood there!
And since the friend also made a mention on the place, we made a trip and did lunch there one of those days!
Row 1 – (From left) Lato salad, Kinilaw na Tanigue (Raw fish salad) & Liempo
Row 2 – (From left) Deep-fried pig intestines, BBQ fish & BBQ squid
Row 3 – (From left) Lechon manok, Fresh oysters, BBQ bangus.
Together with my friend and her family, it made up to a total of nine of us only and it sure looked like it was an overkill during ordering! But it seemed like the place has lived up to its name – Everything was seriously so fresh and good!
Go all out with your choice of seafood when you are there but don’t forget to try their specialty, the lechon manok! On a side note, I really love the raw fish salad! Think I will try and replicate the dish at home soon! 😀
Not forgetting that we ended our feast with dessert also on top of all the dishes we already had! Haha!
Anyway, they do have a new outlet just five minutes drive from the Iloilo airport recently. So if you are transiting via Iloilo somehow, you can drop by for a quick seafood feast! 🙂
4. Amalfi Cucina Italiana
If you think you had too much local Filipino cuisine, there’s always somewhere like Amalfi Cucina Italiana to save the day!
Located in The Avenue building in Pison Complex, or more commonly known as Smallville, the bistro serves up a wide range of Italian dishes from pizza and pasta, salad and soups, steaks, desserts and not forgetting a good collection of wine!
Since we already had dinner, we intended to have some wine and enjoy it over a cheese platter only. But once again, the gluttony in me took over and I went ahead to order the Surf & Turf just because I was curious after the friend’s relentless recommendations!
True enough, the steak and prawn was quite well done with a subtle red wine sauce and what I supposed tasted like balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture for dressing. What’s even more notable is the mashed potato served on the sides! It was really creamy and flavorful with the cream cheese, sour cream and butter! Yums!
Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert that is generally shaved ice and evaporated milk decked with an assortment of beans, nata de coco or jelly and fruits and further topped with Leche Flan and Ube flavored ice cream!
Although I didn’t fulfil the initial intention to try buko halo, a bigger portion of halo-halo served in a coconut, it was definitely a life saviour after a day out in the sun like our church hopping day!
6. La Paz Batchoy
Batchoy is basically noodles with pig organs served in either chicken or beef broth and topped with crushed chicharron (deef-fried pork rind), spring onions and fried shallots. There were various versions of the story of batchoy’s true origin, but one thing you can be sure of – The dish was first concocted in La Paz market and got very popular among the locals and affectionately referred to as La Paz Batchoy.
I knew the dish tasted super familiar and it took me a long while to figure the taste out! In simple words, batchoy can be easy described as a fusion of our local favorite, prawn noodles and pig organs soup!
Deco’s, Netong’s and Ted’s – these are the most mentioned places in Iloilo where you can get decent batchoy from. I tried mine from Ted’s and it was good! And since I have yet to try batchoy from any where else, let’s just say this is best and I can so easily just label it as my comfort food!
I am not sure if there is any hard and fast rule that says that you have to have these steamed rice cakes with batchoy. But I am pretty sure that the soft and dense texture with a slightly yeasty aroma from the steamed fermented rice batter makes a perfect match when you dip it into the robust soup that is served with your bowl of noodles!
You can call this an addiction but I had gradually grown to need a good dose of tea every now and then. I managed to mask the crave with bubble tea but a long week in Iloilo without tea prepared in the traditional methods was a tough one! And what’s worse is that the taste palette is rather picky on the flavors in my dose.
So when I learned that there is an old cafe that still makes their coffee and tea in a local traditional manner, I knew I had to make a trip down!
When we dropped by, they were serving brunch buffet on the house for Thanksgiving and it was nice to see the owners greeting and serving their customers warmly and inviting you to have some thing to eat whether or not if you are a regular! Definitely feels like I stopped by home! 🙂
Anyway, I stood there and watched the lady who makes their coffee and tea (I know it was quite intimidating especially when I had my camera with me but I am really curious…) and to my pleasant surprise, the steps and methods looked exactly like the ones we have in the coffee shops or food centres here in Singapore!
No doubt, I found a great familiarity in my cuppa that morning since the steps and methods were identical to what we do here in Singapore. I mean it tasted slightly different probably because of the choice of tea leaves used but it gives that boost the satisfaction and eased the cravings! So says the caffeine addict! Haha yeah but it was simply lovely!
And there’s so much more to see and eat in Iloilo considering the fact that there’s only so much time and stomach space I can spare during my short stay! So, till the next time Iloilo! 🙂
Anyway, that also means that this is the end of my travelogue for my fifth time in the Philippines where I hopped from Manila, Tagaytay and finally ending my trip in Iloilo in December 2013! Till the next time too! 😀
Most posts from Philippines December 2013 travelogue series:
- Harbor View Restaurant, Fort Santiago & Intramuros and Padi’s Point | Manila, Philippines
- Angelicum School | Iloilo, Philippines
- Iloilo Esplanade & Cholabite | Iloilo, Philippines
- Molo Church, Tigbauan Church & Guimbal Church | Iloilo, Philippines
- Miag-ao Church, San Joaquin Cemetery, San Joaquin Church & Jaro Metropolitan Church | Iloilo, Philippines
- 7 EATS in Iloilo | Iloilo, Philippines