Stuff I ate in Iloilo

I have read somewhere that Iloilo is set to be the next metropolitan in the South. Seeing the foreign brands in malls, the flyovers, the IT park, and the countless vehicles on the road, I couldn’t agree more! But what’s interesting for me is that, despite the booming local economy, Iloilo is still in touch with their roots. Their provincial capitol is side-by-side with its old structure, and the Calle Real is reminiscent of Vigan’s Calle Crisologo. Iloilo’s homegrown brands, like JD Bakery, Carlo’s Bakery, and Deco’s have their own shops in malls, and are as jampacked as the fastfood chains from Manila.

All around Iloilo, change is happening, but good food is here to stay. Here’s the good stuff I got:

Queen Siopao

Price: PHP 90

Serving size: Good for 2

Ate it at: Roberto’s, JM Basa Street, Iloilo City Proper

An ex-teammate from Bacolod recommended that I try the Queen Siopao in Roberto’s. And it’s a good thing that it’s just a quick walk from our hotel, Circle Inn.

Unlike other dimsum places, Roberto’s doesn’t serve sauce with their siopao. No need for an extra sachet of sauce, because it is already inside the jumbo-sized siopao! πŸ˜‹

Roberto’s Queen Siopao
A sneak peak, and a bacon says “Hi!” πŸ‘‹
More, more, mooooooorrrrreeee! 😍

The sweet adobo sauce goes so well with the savory selection of fresh and cured meats, plainly listed on the wrapper. Chorizo, or chinese sausage, is already a good choice of cured meat on its own, but the addition of bacon took the siopao to a whole new level! Believe me when I say that this is the best siopao I’ve had so far! It truly deserves the royal title. πŸ‘‘

Pro tip: Buy as soon as they open at 8am. The Queen Siopao is such a bestseller that it’s already gone in a matter of two hours!

Special La Paz Batchoy

Price: PHP 72

Serving size: Good for 1

Ate it at: Deco’s, Robinsons Place Iloilo, Ledesma Street, Iloilo City Proper

The same person who recommended Roberto’s also said that we should try batchoy at Deco’s. The struggle in finding a table is enough to make me believe that this is the best one around. The constant Ilonggo chatter inside the restaurant is also a sure sign that Deco’s batchoy is locally-approved! πŸ‘

Deco’s Special La Paz Batchoy

The bowl may be small, but Deco’s did not skimp on the toppings: soft pork, pig’s innards, chicharon (pork skin), toasted garlic bits, and green onions. The broth was so comforting and malinamnam without the nasty MSG, and tasted like it has been brewed for hours and hours. 🍜 It was enough to chase the rainy evening blues away. The chicharon also blew my mind, because despite soaking in the broth for several minutes, and it stayed crunchy!

For extra carbo loading, the locals pair their batchoy with puto (steamed rice cakes). πŸ‘Œ

Inihaw na Pusit and Tanigue Steak

Price: PHP 218 each

Serving size: Good for 2

Ate it at: Shamrock Grill, Nanga, Guimbal

On our way back to the hotel from the beautiful Miag-ao Church, we stopped by Shamrock Grill for a late lunch.

Whenever my mother and I travel, we would always look for a seafood restaurant. And we would always order the same thing: grilled squid and tanigue. Both are tricky to cook, so when a restaurant can nail them, we know we’re eating at a restaurant who knows their stuff. Shamrock Grill is an example. 🍴

Inihaw na Pusit
Tanigue Steak

The squid was soft and chewy, and didn’t feel rubbery at all! The slight tanginess of the tomatoes and onions seeped through the delicate meat. Meanwhile, the tanigue was juicy, light, and perfectly seasoned. The freshness of the fish shone through.

Will definitely come back to this one when I get the chance!

Jelly Roll

Price: PHP 29

Serving size: Good for 1

Bought it at: Carlo’s Bakery, Robinsons Place Iloilo

I also love bread as much as Madeleine does. When Mama and I went to Carlo’s Bakery in a mall near the hotel, their Jelly Roll intrigued me. I wasn’t seeing any jelly, but because it looked good and was affordable, I went ahead and bought it.

Jelly Roll
The jelly that turns out to be this sweet, creamy custard 😍

It’s a sponge cake roll, with a sweet custard filling (which is probably the “jelly” part). It’s surprisingly light, and not nakakaumay at all. It has that homemade touch, and local Ilonggos would probably associate that with their childhood. The bakery has been around since 1987, and continues to delight people with their bread and pastries. 😊

What also intrigued me was the Bibingka, which back at home, we would call Mamon. It’s also soft and moist, and they even have Royal Bibingka, which is a creamier variant.

Bibingka: the mamon of Iloilo

As a self-proclaimed old soul, I really enjoyed Iloilo, a place where the old co-exists with the new. ✌ Check out my food trip in Guimaras, an island which is a short boat ride away from Iloilo!

*Disclaimer: I paid for my own food, and this was written with my honest opinion. If I don’t like the food, I won’t write it here. 😊

**For my latest food adventures, follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisselovestoeat

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