Last month, Unilever Food Solutions started the 10-region tour in Iloilo with full media coverage, comprising of GMA News TV’s Pinoy Foodie, correspondents of the Philippine Star, the Daily Guardian and the News Today, as well as bloggers from Iloilo and Manila. They then journeyed to Boracay and sampled the finest dishes of 11 restaurants serving Filipino food in order to identify the type of Filipino cuisine that the island is most known for.
With the Boracay Sun’s participation in the Boracay leg of the Sooo Pinoy, Food Trip na Pilipinas!, the team of UFS and media personnel started their gastronomical tour at Sur Beach Resort in Station 1. In-house chef Narciso Lapinid prepared two of the original dishes for us: Pan-Fried Dory with Garlic and Cheese Sauce – breaded dory pan-fried to tender texture with a thick and tasty sauce; and Mini Beef Burger Patty with Mushroom – a trademark Filipino taste of semi-sweet and salty meat cooked on the grill and moistened with creamy mushroom sauce. The Davaoeno chef describes Sur’s cuisine as modern Filipino with a fusion of Chinese and Western cuisine, as typified in special dishes like Baby Back Ribs, Lengua Consitas – an Ilonggo dish with white sauce, mushrooms and olives.
Pan-Fried Dory with Garlic and Cheese Sauce Mini Beef Burger Patty with Mushroom
Our next stop was the newly-opened Mesa Filipino Moderne in Boracay Regency Beach Resort. Succeeding its branch in Makati, the chef of this high-end modern Filipino restaurant presented us with five regional dishes touched with his own taste, such as: Tinapa Roll – it is Lumpiang Shangai with smoked tinapa filling instead of pork, deep-fried and served with romaine lettuce and sweet and sour sauce; Laing – a famous Bicolano dish of gabi leaves and pork simmered in coconut milk and chili with a twist of flaked pork toppings; Bagoong Rice with Adobo Flakes – Mesa’s version of Khao Pad; Hito Flakes with Mango Chili – flaked dried shrimplets topped with green mango, sweetened bagoong (shrimp paste), parsley and chili; Suwahe on the Rocks – river shrimps cooked over heated black rocks; Crispy Boneless Tilapia – deep-fried sweet water fish de-boned and rolled in bread crumbs, served with bagoong, sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce and vinaigrette; and Crispy Boneless Pata – a common fiesta (feast) food of deep-fried pork knuckles garnished with roasted garlic plus soy sauce on the side.
Bagoong Rice with Adobo Flakes Tinapa Roll
Suwahe on the Rocks Laing
Hito Flakes with Mango Chili Crispy Boneless Tilapia Crispy Boneless Pata
After indulging in Mesa, we moved to the Mediterranean-inspired beach resort next to Boat Station 2. At Le Soleil Beach Resort, we sampled their Filipino specials: Chicken Pork Adobo – the Filipino National dish of chicken and pork simmered in vinegar, laurel leaves and spices; and Hinubarang Manok with Gata – an Aklan native dish of chicken simmered in coconut milk and banana stalk. Both dishes were tender and flavorful, just like lola’s home cooking.
Chicken Pork Adobo Hinubarang Manok with Gata
The next day, we had a heavy breakfast at Smoke Resto in the wet market of D’Mall. We were served with their top-selling dishes: Sinigang na Hipon – shrimps and vegetables boiled in sour and salty tamarind broth and spices; Khao Pad – a Filipino favorite Thai food of bagoong rice topped with semi-sweet pork, green mango strips and egg omelet; Tortang Talong – a Pampanga staple food of eggplant pan-fried with scrambled egg, onion and spices; Spicy Garlic Kangkong – water spinach sautéed in soy sauce and chili, with toppings of sesame seeds and roasted garlic; Bicol Express – Bicol’s own pork simmered in coconut milk and spices; and the Batangas native Bulalo – Smoke’s award-winning dish for the Sooo Pinoy! Best Bulalo in 2011, is beef shanks and pechay leaves boiled in beef broth. Smoke proprietor Rea Anchores takes pride in their menu, as it enlists the dishes that they themselves love to eat.
Spicy Garlic Kangkong The 2011 Sooo Pinoy’s Best Bulalo
Sinigang na Hipon Bicol Express
A couple of hours later, we had lunch at Island Chicken Inasal. Found in the center of D’Mall, this Bacolod-inspired restaurant prepared became our venue for an all-out Bacolod meal with famous dishes: Kansi – the province’s own Bulalo, tender beef shanks stewed in tamarind broth, fish sauce and chili; Apan-Apan – similar to Adobong Kangkong with an addition of pork flakes; and Bacolod’s famous grilled chicken, Chicken Inasal – barbecued chunky chicken parts marinated overnight in coconut vinegar, spices and herbs. As for our beverage, we were served with a tall glass of Calamansi Shake.
Apan-Apan, Chicken Inasal and Calamansi Shake Kansi
Our sixth food tasting, on the other hand, was at De Paris Resort. Owned by the first Boracay ex-pat Roger De Paris, the beach
front restaurant within the resort offers a mix of popular French and Asian cuisines. Mr. De Paris had his chef prepare for us Filipino dishes that locals and foreigners like, such as: Sinigang na Hipon – an Aklanon tamarind-based stew of shrimps, tomatoes, onions, water spinach, eggplant and chili boiled in chicken broth; and Pork Steak – diversified Bistek Pinoy, it is pork marinated and simmered in UFS’ own Knorr Seasoning.
Bistek Pinoy Sinigang
Following this appetizing tour, we walked down south toward Boat Station 3 to try the Filipino offering of the Tryst Bar inParadise Garden Resort. We had Grilled Porkchop in Fried Rema with Peanut Sauce – the Tryst’s palatable presentation of tenderized pork chop on fried potatoes, sprinkled with peanut sauce; and Inihaw na Lapu-Lapu na may Nakadapang Sugpo – smoked baby lapu-lapu fillet in coconut milk with prawns and mango salad on top of steamed potatoes.
Grilled Porkchop in Fried Rema with Peanut Sauce & Inihaw na Lapu-Lapu na may Nakadapang Sugpo
For dinner, we were invited instead at Traviesa Restaurant in Canyon de Boracay (formerly Asya Resort). Primarily Euro-Asian cuisine, the chef of Traviesa prepared for us two enhanced local dishes that were quite favored in their menu. They were Pan-Seared Blue Marlin with Cheesy Sauce – a delightful concept, pan-blue marlin with a treat of creamy cheese sauce, but a bit challenging to chew, and Grilled Honey Chicken with Peanut Sauce – a winning dish similar to Aristocrat Restaurant’s Chicken Barbecue, is tender grilled chicken marinated in honey and matched with Java rice and peanut sauce.
Pan-Seared Blue Marlin with Cheesy Sauce Grilled Honey Chicken with Peanut Sauce
To cap our second day tour, we headed up north to Ambassador in Paradise. The 5-star resort’s Executive Chef Fortune Fulgar is reputable as one of the best chefs on the island. In order to share with us his passion for good food, Chef Fortune made us Chicken Binakol with Truffle Oil – an Aklanon dish of chicken stewed in coconut milk; and the only dessert served in the tour, traditional Filipino dessert of Brazo de Mercedes with Langka – a tempting display of the egg-based meringue roulade, enclosed in thin white and dark chocolate with a base of pureed jackfruit.
Brazo de Mercedes with Langka Chicken Binakol with Truffle Oil
On our last day of Sooo Pinoy, Food Trip na Pilipinas!, we spent the morning at Astoria Resort in front of Boat Station 1. The chef of Astoria’s White Café served us Kare-Kare – Pampanga’s best of beef ribs stewed in peanut butter sauce with pechay leaves, banana blossom and green beans; Sinigang na Baboy – pork and vegetables boiled in tamarind broth; and a welcome drink of Pandan Juice. We were also invited to delight in their daily buffet breakfast, consisting of Tapa (marinated beef), Adobo, Danggit (salted and dried fish), Hot Dogs, Rice, Muesli, a variety of Yogurt, Rice, Bread, Sweet Pastries, Eggs Counter, the Filipino all-time favorite chocolate rice porridge, Champorado, and many more, as well as warm beverages like brewed coffee and thickly rich hot native cocoa.
Kare-Kare Sinigang na Baboy
Come noontime, we moved to Ka-On Restaurant on the rooftop of the Tides for the final stop of the Sooo Pinoy Boracay leg. Cebuano head cook Fernando Sontonsidad prepared a delectable line of their Progressive Filipino dishes, a composition of 80% Filipino and 20% fusion. What we had was what I found to have the finest taste of local cuisine. We had Beef Ribs Adobo – tender juicy braised baby riblets sandwiched in fried eggplants and fried bananas on small pechay leaves; Grilled Bangus Steak – locally bought milkfish seasoned in creamy ginger and lemongrass sauce, served with a cup of kalabasa rice boiled in chicken broth; Gising-Gising – a delectable Pampanga dish of minced winged beans and pork dices simmered in coconut milk and spices; Pinakbet – a famous Ilonggo dish of mixed vegetables braised in water and served with shrimp paste; and Monggo – a wonderful legume broth that is a favorite among children.
Beef Ribs Adobo Grilled Bangus Steak
From the dynamic culinary tour that we have hereby experienced, it is clear that Boracay’s Filipino cuisine is a melting pot of all regional cuisines prepared in the traditional way, as well as with the distinct flavor of the island’s culinary chefs.