Pancit bato and dinuguan
Pancit bato, manufactured in the town of Bato in Camarines Sur, is a noodle dish that looks like the Philippines' stir fry pancit canton made with flour noodles, but with a twist. It's cooked with shrimp and vegetables like carrots and pechay, and topped with dinuguan, a dish of pork innards and meat cooked in pig's blood. It seems like a strange combination but it tastes good.
Pancit bato, P50, and dinuguan, P40, available at Benzon Burger House, Balud, Polangui, Albay.
Kinalas noodle soup from Naga City
If Iloilo has batchoy, Naga City has kinalas, thick soft noodles called kinalas, made of a pig’s head and soft boiled for hours in spices until the meat falls off the bone and then served with hard-boiled egg. Aling Cely’s Kinalasan, one of the established local eateries selling kinalas, uses a secret special sauce that makes its Kinalas version even more delicious.
P45 for a bowl of kinalas with egg. Aling Cely’s Kinalasan, Dimasalang corner Barlin Streets, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Naga City, Camarines Sur.
Kurakding or local truffle pasta
If you like truffle pasta, then kurakding pasta is for you. Kurakding is a type of local mushroom that grows abundantly in the mountains of Polangui, Albay. Lila Restaurante and Banquet Hall’s kurakding pasta is made of fettuccine noodles topped with homemade creamy sauce infused with kurakding and served with garnishing.
Kurakding pasta, P120, is a seasonal menu served only during the rainy season, usually from June to October, at Lila Restaurante and Banquet Hall, Balud, Polangui, Albay.
1st Colonial Grill’s Pasta Bicolana is a simple and tasty dish, perfect if you can like it hot and spicy. It's spaghetti pasta in cream-based sauce with bits of Guinobatan pork sausages or longganisa cooked with bird’s eye chilis and topped with parmesan cheese.
P115. 1st Colonal Grill, Rizal Street, Legazpi City, Albay.
Baduya or fried bananas
Deep-fried coated saba banana, is a staple snack for Albayano locals and Angie's Baduya is the best. Angie’s slices of bananas are dipped in a special batter then made to sit on cacao leaves for a few minutes for added flavor, and deep-fried. It's slightly crusty outside, but the banana flesh is sweet and tender. This dish is served as a mid-afternoon snack and is a favorite of the late travel journalist Susan Calo-Medina. Angie’s also sells other native snacks like bayokbok, a snack of ground cassava, glutinous rice, coconut and milk turned into balls and dipped in special flour; deep-friend banana or banana cue and deep fried sweet potato or camote cue in caramelized sugar; and pancit bato.
P10 per piece of baduya. Angie’s Baduya, Doña Maria Subdivision, Daraga, Albay.
Naga City, Camarines Sur's siopao (steamed pork buns) is oven-baked, not steamed, and it's called toasted siopao. Naga Garden Restaurant serves one of the best toasted siopaos in the area, delicious with slices of hardboiled eggs added to the pork filling, and the bun slightly crusty.
P60 per piece. Naga Garden Restaurant, Panganiban Drive, Naga City, Camarines Sur.
Binut-ong local rice cake
Taste and fall in love with the binut-ong, glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and wrapped in banana leaf. It’s creamy and salty and quite rich, served with coconut milk and drizzled with hot tsokolate (cacao chocolate), cooked using homegrown cacao and served thick, mixed with, what else, more coconut milk.
Binut-ong is available at The Oriental Legazpi.
Read Take me to…Quitinday Falls and Sigpit Underground River, and The Oriental Legazpi.
DJC Halo-Halo serves the best version of the Filipino dessert Halo-halo made of crushed ice, local fruit like purple yam, jackfruit, banana saba, and leche flan, nata de coco, macapuno, beans, milk and sweetener. DJC uses local and homemade ingredients, including the generous runny leche flan, purple yam and sweetened banana saba, topped generously with grated cheese. Unlike most traditional halo-halos, no sugar is added.
P70 for special, DJC Halo-Halo is at 330 San Lorenzo Street, Tiwi, Albay.
Pili fruit and by-products
Pili fruit comes from pili trees that grow abundantly in the Bicol region, particularly in Sorsogon. You can buy it roasted or glazed, cooked with sugar, or made into tarts or polvoron, a powdered snack or crumbly shortbread. Locals sometimes eat its pulp with fish sauce.
Raw pili costs P850 per kilo but when its in season in September the price drops to P450. Ready-to-eat pili products are from P50 to P120 per pack, depending on the size. Available at Sorsogon City Public Market.
Lato or sea grapes straight from the sea
Why not munch on raw salad harvested straight from the sea? Lato or sea grapes are abundant in coastal Sorsogon and you can buy it from peddlers on the beach. Rinse the sea grapes before drizzling it with calamansi or local lime and dipping it in vinegar mixed with a little sugar, calamansi and chopped white onions.
P100 for a plastic bag-full of lato. The plastic bag is about half a sack in size so you do get a lot for your money. Available from peddlers along the beaches of Sta. Magdalena, Bulusan and Pilar towns in Sorsogon.
Read about diving for sea grapes, one of Top 5 amazing things to do along Sorsogon's coast.
For more on food in Albay, read A journey into Albay's culinary heart.
Published August 2016