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15 Dishes, Drinks, and Delicacies to Try in Batangas

by Soraya Danica Dimayuga

Whether you're going on a spontaneous or planned trip to Batangas, you should always set aside time to sample its unique, delicious cuisine.

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Blessed with bountiful natural resources and a mountainous topography, Batangas melds a favorable climate, the refreshing sea breeze, and the warm hospitality of Batangueños. Batangas is not only known for having sweeping views of picturesque beaches and offering the nearest countryside experience from Manila, but for its vast and diverse selection of Batangueño food as well. From the famous bulalo to the lesser known tamales ng Ibaan, Batangas has a special culinary offering for anyone craving a steaming hot meal to a simple sticky rice snack to pair with the potent taste of Barako coffee.

To guide you on your gastronomic journey, here’s a list of the most exciting Batangueño dishes, drinks, and delicacies around.

1. Lomi

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Known to many Batangueños as a type of comfort food you can eat at any time of day and in any weather condition, lomi has become a knee-jerk reaction for locals who want a break from the usual rice meal. Served with sprinkles of chicharon (fried pork rinds), chopped pork innards, fried garlic, and sliced spring onions, this noodle dish is anything but plain and ordinary. Aside from its signature gooey broth created using a mix of water and cassava flour, its thick and flavorful noodles make enduring the high temperatures of this hot noodle dish worth your while. Paired with a mixture of soy sauce and calamansi, the mild sweetness of the lomi battles the tanginess of the mixture seasoning. A bottle of soda and a few monay buns are recommended to be eaten with lomi if you’re craving more ingredients on the side.

Best place to get this from:
Liam’s Lomi House
Recenos Compound, Sabang
Gen. Luna St., Lipa
(043) 756 5743
Open from Mondays to Saturdays, 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM;
Sundays at 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM

2. Gotong Batangas

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Greasy, flavorful, and lip smackingly-good, Batangas’ version of ‘goto’ offers everything you want in a meat dish. This savory beef dish specifically originated in Lipa City and has redefined the proud city’s cuisine since then. The gotong Batangas differs from those found in Manila with its lack of rice. Instead, gotong Batangas is served with steaming hot broth, warm enough to wake the senses in any given weather. Batangas’ version also varies in ingredients as it is normally cooked with beef tripe and innards, vinegar, chili, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, oil, water, and atsuete (annatto) for color.

Best place to get this from:
Tessie’s Goto & Bulalo
Tambo, Lipa (near STAR Tollway exit Batangas-bound)
(043) 312 2616
Open daily, 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM

3. Bulalo

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Being the ‘Cattle Trading Capital of the Philippines’, Padre Garcia, a municipality in Batangas, has not only gained popularity among cattle traders around the country, but among foodies as well. Showcasing local cuisines made from cattle, the meats used are guaranteed fresh, firm, and organic. Among these dishes is the revered bulalo with its high-temperature broth, tender cattle beef (attached to the shin bone that still has fatty marrow and some gelatinous cartilage on it), and rich flavors that soothe the soul with every sip and bite. The bulalo is cooked and served with slices of corn on the cob, bok choy, potatoes, and whole peppercorns. Patis (fish sauce) is normally offered on the side to enhance the taste.

Best place to get this from:
Rose & Grace Restaurant
Pan-Philippine Hwy, Poblacion 1, Santo Tomas
(043) 778 1052
Open daily, 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM

4. Tapang Taal

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Taal is best known across the country as a heritage town where many perfectly-restored Spanish-era houses stand majestically, lining the streets and surrounding the Taal Church. But what most people don’t know about this town is that not only is its history and culture abundant, but that its local cuisine is similarly rich as well. Tapang Taal, among the town’s most famous foods, differs from most variants you’ve heard of. This is because this type of tapa isn’t made with beef, but pork. Marinated in soy sauce mixed with calamansi, ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic, the tapang Taal is typically fried and then served with rice along with a concoction of onions, chili peppers, and vinegar for dipping. This type of tapa is so good that you’ll normally see it stacked in Taal’s public market for both locals and tourists to take back home or abroad.

Best place to get this from:
Feliza Taverna Y Cafe
6 Felipe Agoncillo Street, Taal
(043) 740 0113
Open from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Fridays to Sundays, 10:00 AM - 10:30 PM

5. Taghilaw

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If you’re a big fan of innards, you’ll find all the thrill in Batangas’ version of bopis (Filipino dish of pork or beef lungs and heart sautéed in tomatoes, chilies, and onions), the Taghilaw. Don’t let its name fool you, this dish is fully cooked and is not served raw at all. Slowly cooked in vinegar, taghilaw is composed of pork innards, chili, and black pepper.

Best place to get this from:
Casa Cecilia Heritage Hotel
Diversion Road
(043) 408 0046
casa_cecilia_taal@yahoo.com

6. Tamales ng Ibaan

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Tamales is almost always different in preparation and ingredients wherever you go. When you mention ‘tamales’ in different parts of the Philippines, you’ll get a variety of answers. Some will say it’s suman (rice cake) with a coconut milk and sugar dip, some would say it’s roasted meat, vegetables, or fish wrapped in corn dough, and some would say it’s malagkit (sticky rice) with a beef tapa filling. Batangas’ version is special in a way that it’s very uncommon to find someone selling it outside of Batangas. Instead of corn dough or a sweet dipping sauce, the Tamales ng Ibaan is wrapped in banana leaves and is made with malagkit, with a filling that’s a mix of peanuts, shredded chicken, eggs, and atsuete (annatto).

Best place to get this from:
Rhemar’s Eatery
A. Hernandez St., Ibaan (near the Ibaan Church)

7. Bikong Batangas

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Also known as ‘sinukmani’, the Bikong Batangas is usually found in pasalubong shops and public market stalls anywhere in the province. This type of rice cake differs from all the local rice cakes with its origin and ingredients consisting of brown sugar, malagkit (sticky rice), gata (coconut milk), and latik (coconut caramel) or ground roasted peanuts as toppings. This sticky rice delight is commonly served in a bilao wrapped with banana leaves. A festival called the Sinukmani Festival that celebrates the creation of this treat is held annually in Batangas City, where long tables of sinukmani are laid out for locals and tourists to share.

Best place to get this from:
Sofia’s Kitchenette
Kumintang Ibaba, Batangas City
(043) 740 7554 / (0906) 543 9636

8. Atcharang Calaca

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In the Philippines, we make our atchara entirely out of green papaya, unlike other countries' versions that have cilantro, mint, mango, cranberry, tomato, or peach. In Calaca, a town in Batangas, atchara is not only celebrated annually (during the CalacAtchara Festival), it is also prepared in a way that is relatively unique. By adding shredded carrots, onions, ginger, and bell peppers to their atchara, Calaca is deviating from the usual pickled papaya in a jar which is the more popular version you’ll see in most cities. Although atchara is not a main dish, it helps enhance meals without broth such as barbecued meat and fish served with rice. You won’t be needing soup or sauce when you eat atchara alongside your meals, as its tangy taste can give you more than enough of a kick.

Best place to get this from:
Atchara’s Best
Madalunot, Calaca
(0927) 279 0349

9. Kapeng Barako

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Kapeng Barako is popularly known throughout many cities in the Philippines, so much that it has since been commercialized in select supermarkets for the benefit of people living farther away but are avid fans of this type of strong coffee. This coffee variant is widely grown and distributed in Batangas, where almost every public market stall sells it. Stronger in taste than most coffee, the kapeng Barako gets its name from just that. Its powerful taste and aroma is almost enough to wake any sleepy fellow who takes a sip. If you’re aiming for the authentic blend, make sure to grab a cup or two in local Batangas cafes. Almost every coffee shop in the area offers it, and you’ll be sure that each blend would taste exactly the same (except if you add other ingredients to it).

The kapeng Barako is meant to be consumed warm and plain. A spoonful of brown sugar is optional if its too strong for your taste, but other than that, the addition of milk or cream is just not necessary—and might even ruin the experience. It’s not Barako coffee if it’s not strong, after all.

Best place to get this from:
Cafe de Lipa Origins
32 San Carlos Drive, Mataas na Lupa, Lipa City
(043) 756 1716 / (02) 903 6859
Open from Mondays to Saturdays, 7:00 AM - 12:00 AM;
Sundays at 7:00 AM - 11:00 PM

10. Panutsa

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If Baguio has their peanut brittle, Batangas has the ‘panutsa’. Looking at their presentation and final packaging, the two differ significantly. Baguio’s peanut brittle is flattened into light-colored and thin, crunchy layers with smaller peanuts, kept inside a round plastic container, whereas Batangas’ panutsa is molded into circles and has a darker color, has larger peanuts, and is coated in cling wrap. The panutsa is generally less crunchy and sweet, making it harder to bite into, yet a favored treat of the elderly. In the olden times, people used to cut up pieces of it to sweeten their tea—if you’re about to have tea and there’s panutsa around, it’s definitely worth trying. In Batangas, panutsa is commonly sold in pasalubong centers and are carried around by bus vendors before every trip commences. It takes its round shape after being poured and molded into coconut shells where they are left to crystallize and dry out after some time. To achieve its dark color, caramelizing brown sugar is key as it provides the base which holds all the peanuts together.

Best place to get this from:
Sawali Restaurant
Gov. Antonio Carpio Rd, Kumintang Ibaba
(043) 723 3273 / (0918) 202 4846
Open from Mondays to Sundays, 8:30 AM - 10:00 PM

11. Bagoong Balayan

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It’s a known fact that Batangueños are fond of their dipping sauces. Whether it’s for meats, noodles, street food, or even dessert, a Batangueño will always try to look for something to enhance the food’s flavor with. Among the most prized dipping sauces of Batangueños is the bagoong Balayan, which originated in Balayan, a municipality in Batangas. Located near bodies of water, bagoong production in the municipality is very common. In fact, many locals have made it their livelihood as it is easy to source, produce, sell, and sustain. This brownish table condiment is usually sold in bottles and can be found in pasalubong centers, sari-sari stores, and even in roadside establishments. To create this fishy concoction, fresh fish and salt are kept in large earthen jars where they will be left to ferment for about 4 to 6 months maximum. Regular mixing is then done so as to fuse the fish with the salt, preserving it better and making it taste more refined. After that comes the bottling and labeling process, the final steps before displaying it in stores for sale. You have the choice of using the bagoong Balayan as is or sautéing it with garlic and adding calamansi before using it as a dipping sauce. You can pair this with steamed okra, kare-kare, pinakbet, or any other local dish you fancy.

Best place to get this from:
Evelyn’s Bagoong and Patis Balayan
141 Brgy. Navotas, Balayan
(043) 211 5266

12. Deep-Fried Tawilis

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You won't usually see tawilis being sold in most wet markets and supermarkets in the Philippines. This is because this type of freshwater fish only thrives in the Taal Lake in Batangas. Because of its small size (it can only grow a maximum of 15 centimeters), Batangueños commonly fry this fish to avoid getting it mashed. It’s usually served with rice and vinegar as a dipping sauce. Although this species of fish is rare in other parts of the country, it isn’t sold for more than it's worth. Locals and tourists alike can purchase and taste this fish in different forms (fried, grilled, or dried) without the thought of breaking the bank at least once.

You’ll even be surprised at how elaborate Batangueños eat tawilis. Sometimes, they will be eaten along with rice soaked in kapeng Barako or hot chocolate. And sometimes, they will eat tawilis bundled with kamias fruit and steamed inside banana leaves. Many restaurants, not just in Taal, serve this fish; peruse Batangas restaurant menus and you’ll probably see 1 or 2 variants of tawilis on them.

Best place to get this from:
Lipa Grill
Antipolo del Norte, Lipa City
(043) 756 4660
lipagrill.restaurant@yahoo.com
Open daily, 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM

13. Sinigang na Maliputo

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Also known as the ‘talakitok’ (only when it’s caught in the Taal Lake), the maliputo fish is a staple among Batangueños living near the Balayan Bay and Taal Lake. Among the varieties of fish you can catch, the maliputo is the most expensive as it is delicious and rare. Although there are maliputo fishes caught around Balayan Bay, Taaleños believe that the most authentic of this species can be found in the Taal Lake—and that those found around other areas such as the Pansipit River are not as authentic, and are given the name ‘maliputong labas’ (maliputo outside). The maliputo is not only rare, it can weigh up to 3 kilos because of its firm flesh and blunt head. Locals cook it by charring it, then using a mixture of bagoong Balayan with calamansi as a dipping sauce. For those who want broth, they can slowly boil the maliputo along with assorted vegetables and fresh tamarind for that tangy kick.

Best place to get this from:
Hapag Filipino Restaurant
Gen. Luna St. Lipa City
(043) 740 1828
Open daily, 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM

14. Sinaing na Tulingan

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The tulingan might be a common species of fish in major parts of the Philippines, but what makes it so special in Batangas is the way it’s cooked. Batangueños are fond of cooking the Sinaing na Tulingan, as it offers a different kind of taste when it comes to the taste of the broth and its consistency. Tulingan in Batangas is cooked by covering the fish with salt, wrapping it in banana leaves, adding kamias and tamarind in the bottom part of a clay pot, and then layering the tulingan before adding enough water for the broth and then cooking it slowly with firewood. The concentrated broth you might recognize as patis is then extracted after slowly cooking the fish. This can be used as broth for rice later on.

Best place to get this from:
Don Juan Boodle House
Calle Jose W. Diokno, Taal
(043) 740 1828
Open daily, 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM

15. Tinapa

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You’ve probably eaten smoked ham on most Christmas holidays, but have you ever tried native smoked fish? Tinapa, Batangas’ answer to the former, has become a substitute to what many Filipinos would eat with rice and eggs for breakfast such as tuyo (Filipino dried fish), tocino (sweet cured pork), tapa (cured beef), or hotdogs on a daily basis. Tinapa is not only a good contrast to the sweetness of rice and the strong flavors of the kapeng Barako, it has a better shelf-life than most breakfast staples, too. Although it can’t beat the long shelf-life of dried fish, it sure is a fair contender taste and longevity-wise.

Best place to get this from:
Dampa sa Lipa by Seafood in a Bucket
General Luna St., President Jose P. Laurel, Lipa
(043) 404 6256
Open from Mondays to Fridays, 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Saturdays and Sundays at 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM

READY FOR A TASTE? HERE'S HOW TO GET THERE:

Commuting to Batangas

Riding public transport to Batangas is easy, especially during non-rush hour times. It can take one about a 2 to 2 ½-hour ride whether you're on a private or public vehicle. Air-conditioned or not, buses heading towards the south are very easy to find in more populated Manila cities such as Caloocan (EDSA Station), Pasay (RRCG Bus), Cubao (Cubao Bus Terminal), Alabang (Metropolis Mall Bus Station), and Taft (Tritran Transit), Buendia (JAM Transit, Ceres, DLTB Co., and JAC Liner).

Driving to Batangas

Have your own private vehicle? Consider driving to Batangas instead. From your city in Manila, drive south until you reach the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the Alabang-Calamba-Santo Tomas Expressway (ACTEX), and the STAR Tollway (Southern Tagalog Arterial Road). From there, exits towards the Batangas cities you want to visit can be found such as Santo Tomas, Tanauan, Malvar, Lipa, Ibaan, and at the very end, Batangas City Central.

We hope that our list of Batangueño food has given you awesome ideas on which ones to try and where to get them on your next visit! If you know of other delectable Batangas dishes and desserts not included on the list, please feel free to make a suggestion on the comment section below.

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About Soraya Danica
Soraya is a freelance SEO Content Writer, Metadata Specialist, and Blogger (www.sorayaleftmanila.com) from Lipa City, Batangas who is passionate about books, tea, skincare, blogging, going on sleepovers with her closest buddies, and improving her career and relationship with every client she works with.

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