Warm smiles, friendly locals, great beaches, and good food – this is what keep tourists coming back to Western Visayas.
Composed of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental, Western Visayas offers a gastronomic journey like no other, with heirloom recipes, a wealth of locally sourced ingredients, and distinct flavors representing the convergence of different cultures.
“Western Visayas has food that is indigenous, which has not been altered through the years, as well as food that has been greatly influenced by Chinese and Spanish cuisine,” explained Department of Tourism Western Visayas regional director Atty. Helen Catalbas.
“Slow cooking is a big part of the cuisine – we give premium on food that has been carefully prepared, because we believe it tastes better.”
Flavors of the Philippines 2017, organized by the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board, is ongoing until the end of April to promote regional cuisine through activities held simultaneously across the country.
Here is a list of must-try food in Western Visayas:
1. La Paz batchoy
A specialty of Iloilo’s La Paz district, this noodle soup is made with guinamos (shrimp paste), pork organs, crushed pork rind, chicken stock, beef loin, and miki (round egg noodles). This is best enjoyed at the La Paz market, at old and well-known establishments such as Deco’s and Netong’s.
2. Guimaras mangoes
Guimaras is home to the Bureau of Plant Industry’s National Mango Research and Development Center, and the island’s mangoes are famous all over the world for their sweetness. Guimaras mangoes are a dessert on their own, but can also be a variety of delicacies across the region, such as mango cakes and pastries, and recently, the famous Mango Pizza and Mango Spaghetti, both from the Pitstop restaurant in Jordan, Guimaras.
3. Chicken inasal
This popular grilled chicken has gained national fame, but it is still best had at Bacolod’s Manokan country. The chicken is marinated in a mixture of calamansi, pepper, sinamak (local vinegar), and annatto and grilled over hot coals. The chicken is served on a banana leaf with a heap of steaming rice topped with oil drippings from the grill.
4. Inubarang manok
This recipe is Aklan’s signature dish, but is served all around the region. A whole native chicken is cooked in coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass and ubad, the tender inner portion of the banana stalk.
5. Pancit Molo
Another famous noodle soup from Iloilo, this time from the Molo district. This dish has intricately wrapped pork and shrimp wonton dumplings in a broth garnished with shredded chicken, spring onions, and garlic. Pancit Molo is served in many restaurants, but most Ilonggo households have their own prized Pancit Molo recipe.
6. Chicken binakol
Also originating from Aklan, this is the region’s version of tinola. The dish is given a distinct taste with slivers of young coconut, lemongrass and ginger, traditionally cooked inside a bamboo stalk to seal in the flavors.
7. Roxas seafood
Roxas City in Capiz is known as the seafood capital of the Philippines, abundant with prized shellfish such as crabs, prawns, scallops, and many more. Most of Capiz’s recipes make use of whatever seafood is in season, whether grilled, steamed, stewed, or in soup.
Antique is famous for its peanuts and muscovado sugar, and they converge in a peanut brittle known as bandi. Roasted peanuts are stirred into melted sugar to form round cakes of peanut brittle, sometimes sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Flavors of the Philippines is a month-long culinary festival that runs this month and highlights the country’s unique region-based cuisines and specialties through events ranging from food tasting events and dinners to community-wide fiestas and food fairs.
For more information about Flavors of the Philippines and its upcoming events, log on to https://www.madridfusionmanila.com/flavors-of-the-philippines.