Unknown to many people, the Visayas region offers a rich and lively culinary scene. The region itself is composed of breathtaking islands blessed with diverse cultures, majestic beaches, and friendly people that will keep travelers coming back for more. Its rich natural resources, both from land and sea, is the source of the countless inimitable dishes that the region has to offer. As Khris and I always say, the best way to experience the culture of a locality is to taste its signature cuisine.
So, go on and have a bite of some of these unforgettable dishes from the Visayas and experience a one-of-a-kind journey:
Original Chicken Inasal at Bacolod
Bacolod City is the capital city of Negros Occidental and is home to the colorful Masskara Festival as well as vast sugar plantations. A trip to Bacolod is like walking back in time with its many well-preserved heritage houses that were built by sugar barons from way back.
Bacolod is also dubbed as the City of Smiles. Here, you will meet people who are among the friendliest in the country. The city is also a place where festivals are religiously observed so be sure to take part in the merriment.
Of course, to fully experience Bacolod, travelers have to try their delicacies. First on the list is the real star of their food scene, the famous chicken inasal. It can be had in almost every restaurant or even food stall in the city, but if you want to try the best, head over to Manokan Country, which is actually a strip of food stalls offering various takes on the classic chicken inasal. Plus, you can also enjoy here some of the tastiest grilled offering like isaw (intestine), atay (liver), and isol (chicken butt). It’s best to eat these with your bare hands; the Bacolod (read, the best) way to enjoy your food.
As home to expansive sugar haciendas, Bacolod is aptly nicknamed as the country’s sugar bowl. As such, expect to see many varieties of sweet treats in almost every corner of the city. Try the delectable specialties of famous pastry shops like Felicia’s Pastry Café and Calea Pastries and Coffee, where you can also buy large packs for pasalubong.
Finally, don’t miss out on the original Negrense favorite—piaya. This is unleavened flat bread that is filled with muscovado sugar. Locals recommend getting piaya from Bailon’s Food, located at San Sebastian Street. Their in-house restaurant, Weego Bistro, is something you don’t want to miss.
It’s hard not to notice Weego Bistro with its colorful exteriors that depict Bacolod’s local art scene. Aside from chicken inasal, you can enjoy some Negrense favorites here like batchoy, KBL, and kansi; all-day breakfast meals, other rice meals, and flatbread pizzas.
Taste authentic batchoy in Iloilo
The hunt for delicious bites is not really an overwhelming task when in the province of Iloilo. In fact, Iloilo food is popular almost everywhere around the country. Ilonggo cuisine is influenced by diverse cultures and background, and they’re definitely worth trying.
Iloilo is the origin of the renowned La Paz Batchoy. It is a rich-flavored noodle soup that is a favorite among locals from as far back to the 1940s. The best ones are available at food stalls at La Paz Market, where the dish is supposed to have originated. Among the most popular stalls are Netong’s Original Special La Paz Batchoy and Deco’s Original La Paz Batchoy.
Seafood is also very common in the whole province of Iloilo. Satisfy your taste buds with freshest seafood dishes at Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood Restaurant, and savor their signature dishes like kinilaw na tanigue, baked oysters, and boneless bangus. For those who love chicken, try daraag which is native chicken that is roasted in charcoal and marinated in vinegar.
For light merienda, a good idea would be to try pancit molo, another Ilonggo favorite, at Tita Paz: The House Pancit of Molo, which is just a few minutes away from Tatoy’s.
If you are traveling in large groups, Chika-An Restaurant is the ideal dining place for families and barkadas. Their extensive menu is largely made up of Pinoy dishes like seafood, vegetables, sizzling meals, salads, meats, and even breakfast food. Most diners, however, would recommend Chika-an’s crispy pork belly, squid, sisig and seafood kare-kare.
Tacloban City’s coconut milk craze
Tourists who are visiting the Visayas may not have Tacloban as the first option but the city definitely has a lot to offer its guests. Tacloban City is the biggest in Eastern Visayas and is home to the country’s longest bridge, the San Juanico Bridge.
Moreover, Tacloban City serves as the gateway to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. Of course, Tacloban also has a lot to offer in terms of cuisine.
The Tacloban food fare is definitely Filipino but what makes their food so distinct is their generous use of gata or coconut milk in their cooking. One of the best places to try ginataan specialties in Tacloban would be at Ocho Seafood and Grill where you can have their purbidang kangkong and ginataang ganga or spider conch. Their seafoods are also some of the freshest and tastiest; savor baked scallops, crispy tuna skin, and even crispy scallops.
Another favorite restaurant among travelers is Chew Love Tacloban, which features alfresco dining and is most notable for its appealing, Instagram-worthy look. Diners would be amused by their quirky menu with catchy names: Be Kare-Ful with My Heart (kare-kare), Love at Pork Sight (pork liempo with eggplant salad and rice), and halu-halo which comes in three sizes (Gold Digger, Double Digger and Freaky Digger).
After a day of roving around the city, you might want to conclude your day with a glass of the Tacloban classic coconut wine, Vino de Coco, which can be bought at some supermarkets and re-sellers in the city.
In the morning, wake up to yummy Mexican food offerings at Mex ‘Em Up Grill, Go Hotels Tacloban’s official breakfast provider. They serve most breakfast favorites—from toasted bread to rice and eggs—and some famous Mexican food served with drinks. For those who aren’t fans of breakfast food, Mex ‘Em Up Grill’s menu also includes angus beef fajita, beef mushroom, and buffalo wings, among others, all at reasonable prices.
Dumaguete’s chicken inato and seafood offerings
Dumaguete City is a quiet, little seaside town often overlooked by tourists, but with its many hidden gems, this city leaves good memories to her visitors. Dumaguete offers the best of both worlds: it’s where you can find big universities where Visayans and Mindanaoans converge, and it’s also a diving haven which is home to some of the most beautiful secret beaches in the Visayas, and probably even in the Philippines.
Food at Dumaguete is also unforgettable. Their cuisine is a combination of different Filipino, mostly Visayan specialties, that is why Dumaguete is one of the recommended jump-off points to get you started with Visayan cuisine. For certified foodies, Dumaguete is the place to be.
Begin your gastronomic adventure with the city’s institution: Jo’s Chicken Inato. You’ll instantly fall in love with chicken inato, their specialty chicken. What’s even better is that it’s affordable despite being famous! Jo’s Chicken Inato’s menu also includes other delicious Visayan dishes like sizzling and seafood, and also yummy desserts like the buko halu-halo, a bestseller.
For those who are craving for seafood, the freshest ones can be had at Lab-As Restaurant, which boasts of an extensive menu of seafood favorites. Here, you will be serenaded by the sound of waves as you enjoy your food at the al fresco dining area beside the sea.
After exploring Dumaguete City, cap the day by ordering drinks at the Hayahay Treehouse and Viewdeck or try the sushi at Taco Surf Steaks and Sushi Bar, which are both located beside Lab-As Restaurant.
For those who have sweet tooth, don’t forget to drop by the famous Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries, a Dumaguete institution and landmark. It offers buttery silvannas and creamy sans rival, perfect for meryenda with coffee and pasalubong for your friends and loved ones.
For refreshments, there is Scooby’s, a snack bar with a quaint vibe near Go Hotel in Dumaguete is a great place to have a leisurely afternoon. Students and freelancers frequent this place, mostly because of the relaxing environment, stable Wi-Fi signal, and yummy desserts. Try their Instagrammable freak milkshakes and pair them with pastas, bread or fries.
Traveling to Visayas is a trip that is worth embarking on. While the region is more famous for its island activities and beautiful sights, its culinary offerings are worth the journey as its culture, beaches, and people.
For those who are traveling to the Visayas region, there are Go Hotels near prominent food spots, so accommodation is not a hassle. They offer all the essential needs of travelers at very affordable rates, that means being able to allot more budget for food and activities for maximum enjoyment without hurting one’s wallet.
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