Makansutra: Different eats around the Philippines
Dishes from several provinces worth visiting the country for
The Philippine cuisine is about more than just pork adobo (soy vinegar braised pork) and lechon (roast piglet).
It has a rich heritage due to centuries of Spanish influence and decades of American and Japanese sway.
Thanks to the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines, I had the opportunity to visit a few regions and provinces in the Philippines to curate its food for the World Street Food Congress, which will be held in Manila from May 31 to June 4.
Here are some highlights:
In Ilocos, I was taken in by the old town of Vigan, and I learnt how tinubong was made - fresh ground glutinous rice flour mixed with cheese, milk, sugar and coconut shreds and baked in a bamboo hollow - but I was more interested in how it tasted.
It was smashingly good, literally - you have to break the bamboo and use one half of it to scoop up the gooey, sweet and savoury snack. (Peros Tinubong & Delicacies, Camestizoan, Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur).
I also made my way to Batac City in Ilocos Norte, which is famed for its empanada, a local-style curry puff.
The orange-coloured - from annatto seeds - dough skin is made-to-order.
The dough is then stuffed with longganisa (local sausage) mince, green papaya shreds, an egg and cheese. It is deep-fried until crispy.
The empanada was amazing. Check it out at the World Street Food Jamboree. (Lanie's Empanada, Batac Riverside Food Centre, Washington Street, Brgy 1-S Valdez, Batac City, 7.30am to 12.30pm daily).
In Bacolod City, I was taken to Sharyn's Cansi, a cafe serving rich beef soup flavoured with batwan, a local sour fruit.
The soup was so sour my eyes squinted at the first mouthful. I suspect this is why the dish is called "cansi".
I jest, of course, but this one-dish-wonder cafe (C58, Narra Ave, Bacolod City, 7.30am-8pm daily) will have me as a repeat customer.
At the Manokan Country building, where a row of restaurants offer their famous BBQ chicken, the only restaurant that stood out was Aida's.
Its speciality was chicken marinated in vinegar and soy with coconut water and grilled over wood fire.
It came roasty, with hints of char, and it was moist inside. (Aida's Manokan, Nenas Rose II, Fr. M. Ferrero Street, Bacolod City, 6100, Benguet, 7.30am-3am daily).
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets and has his own TV shows on cable. He publishes food guides and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.