“MUST EAT” LIST: A FOOD TRAVELERS GUIDE AROUND THE PHILIPPINES

There is a “must see” list for travelers but a visit to a place will never be complete without a “must eat”list.

The Philippines is a cornucopia of great food. Her islands offer gastronomic treats that are uniquely found in their respective communities. To understand the culture of each city or province – one needs to also try and savor its delicacies.

Here’s a quick guide of what’s to sample in different provinces or cities around the Philippines. This is first-hand account. Pictures in this write-up were all taken by me, so it goes without saying, the food in the pictures were all eaten by me (along with friends).

This is in no particular order so we will jump from one place to another as you go through this mouth-watering list.

BAKED OYSTERS OF ILOILO. In Iloilo City, you will find some of the most delicious baked “talaba” (oysters) covered th cheese, butter and garlic. A whole plate can just cost about 1 to 2 USD. Suggested places: Ponsyon by Breakthrough, Breakthrough at Villa, Tatoys and Buto’t Balat. If you are a big fan, you can finish a whole plate all by yourself.

PATER OF ILIGAN. Pater with Palapa in Iligan City is a Muslim delicacy. It is rice wrapped in banana leaves along with cooked beef, chicken or tuna. No pork. The best part is the palapa. I cannot seem to get its ingredients except garlic and ginger. One of these packed, ready to go delight is around 1 USD.

LECHON SA TIMOGA OF ILIGAN. Lechon sa Timoga, also in Iligan City. It is one of the yummiest “lechon” +(roasted pig) in the Philippines today. A kilo is around 5 USD. Timoga is a barangay. And when you are near the area – you also get a chance to visit the famous Maria Cristina Falls and other nearby falls.

CANSI OF BACOLOD. The famous “Kansi” of Bacolod City is something you should not miss when visiting the City of Smiles. Very tender beef clinging the bone marrow boiled whole day as orders come. It’s tasty sour flavor comes from “batuan” – a fruit (more like a vegetable) used to make Negrense dishes really delightfully sour. A bowl that can be shared by 2 to 3 persons is around 6 USD. Top of my list is Sharyn’s and Connie’s Cansi House.

CHICKEN INASAL OF BACOLOD. I need to add this for Bacolod City because this is really the most famous food here. The Chicken Inansal or chicken in a stick marinated in condiments and roasted to perfection. A leg or breast is less than 2 USD.

LECHON OF CEBU. Yes, more lechon since it is practically the Philippines’ festival,food. By that I mean, when there are celebrations, lechon is always on the table. In Cebu, everywhere you go, you find a “lechon” restaurant were you can sample it. A kilo is around 12 USD.

LIEMPO OF AKLAN. In Kalibo, Aklan, aside from the famous Ati-Atihan every January, this food chain serves one of the most delicious “liempo” (pork belly) have ever tasted – Ramboy’s. They already have branches in the whole Iloilo province, including Iloilo City.

CRISPY BEEF TADYANG. The crispy beef tadyang of Butuan City is also something memorable. Aside from Butuan, you can get a good one in Tagbilaran City, Bohol and Batangas City.

TALABA OF AKLAN. Add this treat to Aklan, not just Kalibo but in New Washington, another municipality in Aklan. Unbelievably, half a dollar a can, sometimes a kilo. You can get it steamed, baked, sizzled and more.

BINAGOL OF TACLOBAN. The “binagol” of Tacloban City is a goumet dessert inthe Philippines, I must say. It looks quite inconspicuous but when you open the package and dig in, the flavors of candied coconut just melts in your mouth. One piece is around a dollar.

GARLIC LONGGANISA OF TUGUEGARAO. The garlic longganisa of Tuguegarao. Of course, there are many versions of longganisa especially in Luzon, but you will go crazy over the crazy amount of garlic that goes into this version. I am not sure how much kilo, but maybe around 6 USD.

PANSIT CABAGAN OF TUGUEGARAO. The pansit cabagan of Tuguegarao is truly a feast not only to the eyes but to the mouth.

PANSIL BATIL PATONG OF ISABELA. The other Luzon treat is Pansit Batil Patong in Isabela. It uses carabao beef and freshly made noodles. I would have to say our worthy entry to any Asian noodle kitchen wars. The price of the pansit dishes are not steep – maybe around 2 to 3 USD and for sharing.

CASHEW NUTS OF PALAWAN. Down in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, you get to taste the sweetest baked cashew nuts. The province is practically teeming with cashew trees. One kilo is around 6 USD but you can share it with your friends.

LAING AND PINANGAT OF NAGA. The delicious dishes made of taro leaves  discooked in coconut milk with baby fish and pork, dashed with the signature sili of the Bicol region are simply mouth-watering. You have to sample it when you go to Naga, Legazpi, Iriga or any places in the Bicol region.

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HUMBA of SIQUIJOR. Interestingly, Siquijor is a fishing province. Surrounded by waters, the province is ideal place to grab some seafood, but wait, special occasions actual call for Humba. Pork, boiled until soft and sticky. Flavored with garlic, onions, sugar and vinegar and pepper and probably other secret ingredients. It is surely a feast.

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CRABS OF KAPATAGAN. Kapatagan in Lano Del Norte is home to the fattest “alimango” or mud crabs. Locals cook it in various ways – steamed, with coconut milk and ginger or in a soup like the French Bouillabaisse. Any which way, you cannot miss it.

I will be back for more dishes soon. Meantime, feel free to send me a comment.