BORACAY -- It’s near midnight and MarTinapay is buzzing with activity. Located away from the beach near CityMall, the crowd is a cross-section of the Boracay’s population. One one corner, there’s a bunch of locals drinking beer. On another table, there’s a group of Korean tourists mixing soju cocktails. At the entrance, staff dressed in different Boracay 5-star hotel uniforms trudge in looking forward to chilling out after their shifts.
If you want to eat like a local in Boracay, MarTinapay is definitely one of the places to go, offering hearty Filipino comfort food at affordable prices.
Martin Jickain puts the "Martin" in MarTinapay. The business started in early 2016 as a commissary baking -- what else? -- breads for Station Juan at White House in Station 1. Eventually, Jickain started supplying baked goods to other small hotels on the island.
Jickain wanted to expand by trying to get a spot at the mall but plans didn’t pan out. Fortunately, Jickain’s parents had a piece of land nearby right across Fairways and Bluewaters, where MarTinapay now stands, operating 24/7.
The location ended up as a great place to set up a restaurant. Golfers and caddies from across the street came in droves. They kept on requesting for more and more items in the menu that Jickain, being a trained chef, was just happy to accommodate.
MarTinapay’s pares is what brought our group to the restaurant in the middle of the night.
“You like pares? I’ll bring you to the best pares on the island!” boasted Jickain.
At first, I thought that the pares was a bit expensive at around P150. But when it was served, it was a lot of pares and a lot of garlic rice for P150 that could feed two people. The pares itself is quite different. It had a gelatin-like texture of the asado found inside siopao rathe than the thick soy sauce like in other versions of the dish. It was quite surprising and definitely not disappointing.
Jickain also showed off his lomi which he said was a favorite of the hoteliers who came in after their shifts. Served in a large steaming bowl that could feed two, its thick soup is filled with noodles, liver, balls topped with chicharron for good measure.
The last thing we got was MarTinapay’s sisig. Served on a sizzling plate, it was good enough to get a smile of approval from a celebrity Pampangueno chef who was in our group.
The restaurant also carries the baked goods from the MarTinapay bakery. Panaderia favorites pan de sal and cheese bread go well with the pares and the sisig. If available, try to get some Hopiang Sibuyas and Jickain’s Cheese, as well as the Banana Muffins which should be in the running as Boracay’s next must-bring-home pasalubong.
Jickain is still expanding this branch of MarTinapay adding more space for restrooms and more tables. He’ll also be adding branches near the beaches. A MarTinapay bakery/panaderia is right in front of White House on Station 1 with plans to open in the talipapa in Station 3 and Bantud in the near future.
MarTinapay is one of those elusive finds in Boracay that cater to foodies looking for big servings of comfort food at prices that won’t break the bank. It’s definitely a recommended, although out-of-the-way stop, on a Boracay food trip.
MarTinapay can be found on Boracay Highway, Malay across the Fairways and Bluewaters gate. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.