The Visayas region consists of beautifully scattered islands blessed with diverse cultures, majestic beaches, and warm people. But aside from these, this region boasts a wide array of sumptuous food, which is the highlight of, if not the reason for, traveling here.
From dishes that originally came from the region to the reimagined classics, hopping off from one Visayan island to another offers great experiences for the senses, especially for the taste buds.
Indulge in chicken inasal in Bacolod
Aside from its colorful Masskara Festival, Bacolod is famed for its vibrant food scene. A visit to the City of Smiles wouldn’t be complete without trying chicken inasal. Almost every food stall in the city serves this signature dish, but for a more authentic experience, head to Manokan Country—a strip of food stalls with different takes on the inasal. Here you can also find some of the tastiest grilled foods like isaw, atay (liver), isol (chicken butt), and eat them with your bare hands. It’s the Bacolod (a.k.a. the best) way to enjoy your food.
Bacolod is also known as the country’s sugar bowl, so don’t leave without indulging yourself with their sweet treats. Try the mouthwatering specialties of famous pastry shops like Felicia’s Pastry Café and Calea Pastries and Coffee, where you can spoil yourself and even hoard as much treats as you like for pasalubong. You also don’t want to miss the original Negrense favorite—piaya, an unleavened flatbread filled with muscovado sugar. Locals recommend the one from Bailon’s Food, located on San Sebastian Street.
Devour a bowl of batchoy in Iloilo
Iloilo is the birthplace of the famous La Paz Batchoy—a rich-flavored noodle soup that is a favorite among locals dating back to the 1940s. You can try the best ones from the stalls at La Paz Market, where it all originated. Among the most popular stalls are Netong’s Original Special La Paz Batchoy and Deco’s Original La Paz Batchoy.
Seafood lovers will also find Ilonggo cuisine a delight since seafood is a very common staple in the whole province. Head to Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood Restaurant, and taste their crowd favorite dishes like kinilaw na tanigue, baked oysters, and boneless bangus. If you love chicken, try daraag—their wildly popular native chicken—roasted in charcoal and marinated in vinegar. For your merienda, a few minutes away from Tatoy’s is Tita Paz: The House of Pancit Molo, which serves another Ilonggo favorite, the pancit molo.
Traveling in large groups? Chika-An Restaurant is an ideal dining place for families and barkadas. It serves seafood, vegetable, sizzling meals, salad, meat, breakfast food—mostly anything that your taste buds will crave. Customers recommend Chika-an’s crispy pork belly, squid sisig and seafood kare-kare.
Go for all things gata in Tacloban
The Tacloban cuisine is a mix of different Pinoy flavors, but what makes their food so distinct is their delectable use of gata or coconut milk. One of the best places to try their ginataan specialties is Ocho Seafood and Grill where diners love their purbidang kangkong and ginataang ganga or spider conch. Their seafoods, which include baked scallops, crispy tuna skin, and crispy scallops, are also some of the bestsellers.
Another traveler’s favorite is Chew Love Tacloban, which features an al fresco dining experience and is most notable for its appealing, Instagram-worthy look. Their quirky menu attracts a lot of customers, with bestsellers including Be Kare-Ful with My Heart (kare-kare), Love at Pork Sight (pork liempo with eggplant salad and rice), and halo-halo which comes in three sizes (Gold Digger, Double Digger and Freaky Digger). Conclude your day by having a glass of the Tacloban classic coconut wine, Vino de Coco, which you can purchase at some supermarkets and re-sellers in the city.
Get to know chicken inato in Dumaguete
Dumaguete is a quiet, little town often overlooked by tourists, but when you discover its hidden gems, a trip to this city is definitely memorable. Its cuisine is a combination of different Pinoy—mostly Visayan—specialties, that is why Dumaguete is one of the best jump-off points to get you started with the Visayan cuisine.
Start off your taste buds adventure with the city’s institution: Jo’s Chicken Inato. You’ll instantly fall in love with chicken inato, its specialty chicken famous for its homestyle cooking. Its menu also includes other delicious Visayan cuisines like sizzling and seafood, and you can pair them with yummy desserts like the buko halo-halo, one of their bestsellers.
To satisfy your seafood cravings, you can find some of the most delicious ones at Lab-As Restaurant. Dining here gives a really calming vibe, since it features al fresco dining beside the sea. They have an extensive menu of your seafood favorites: name it, they have it. End the day by ordering drinks at the Hayahay Treehouse and Viewdeck or try the sushi at Taco Surf Steaks and Sushi Bar—both located beside Lab-As. For those with a sweet tooth, on the other hand, another food stop that is a certified Dumaguete essential is Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries. It boasts the buttery silvanas and creamy sans rival—perfect for merienda and/or pasalubong for your loved ones.
Traveling to Visayas is a trip that’s worth every penny. While the region is more famous for the island activities and beautiful sights, it is just as much of a paradise for food as it is for the culture, beaches and people. Luckily, there are Go Hotels (www.gohotels.ph) branches near these food spots, so accommodation is not a hassle. They offer all your essential needs in very affordable rates—that means you can allot more money for food and eat all you want, wherever you want without hurting your wallet.