A piping hot bowl of soup may not be the most enticing food to eat right now what with the scorching hot temperature, but for Ilonggos, everyday is a great day to enjoy a hearty serving of batchoy.
Hence in January, Iloilo’s signature soup got a well-deserved time in the limelight during the first-ever Batchoy Festival at SM City Iloilo’s Southpoint area in the Mandurriao district.
A joint project of SM City Iloilo, the Department of Tourism Region IV, the Iloilo City government, and the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc., the four-day event welcomed special guests including Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who tried a number of batchoy dishes from some of the city’s popular brands.
Batchoy is a hearty noodle soup often called La Paz Batchoy in a nod to La Paz district where it originated.
It’s a filling dish made with miki (egg noodles), pork, liver, pork intestines, chicharon, garlic, and chives, all sitting on top of the hot broth of pork or beef bones and condiments, which some say are boiled as early as 4:00 a.m. to squeeze all the flavors from the ingredients into the soup.
Four popular batchoy brands shared their stories during the festival, as well as a little peak into their signature recipes.
Inggo’s Original La Paz Batchoy
Said to be the first batchoyan in Iloilo City, the business started when Domingo “Inggo” Lozada came up with his recipe and opened shop in 1921. He was reportedly only 21 years old then.
The dish was called bas-oy or simply meatballs dipped in homemade sauce, which Lozada sold in Luna Street and later the La Paz Market. He made his recipe’s pancit and pepper out of handpicked ingredients, according to his descendants.
Two of Tiyo Inggo’s five children, Adelaida L. Prado and Virgilia L. Guillergan continued the business, which from the 1960s to 2010 was located at the Iloilo Central Market.
Today, the business is managed by Tiyo Inggo’s grandson Raul L. Guillergan and his eldest son Reynold. In 1984, Domingo Lozada was recognized as the Outstanding Pioneer in Batchoy Food Products by the Iloilo Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The secret: Reynold shares that while their recipe remains a secret, they make their own chicharon.
Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy
With only 10 pesos in his pocket and a modest 5x5 food stall to his name, Teodorico “Ted” Lepura first sold his batchoy at the La Paz Public Market in 1945,
The brand’s humble beginning and commitment to the preservation of history made it one of the beloved batchoys in Iloilo.
Ted’s daughter Adelfa and her husband Larry Borro have ensured that his name and his heritage will not only survive, but continue to be relevant to the changing times. In the late ‘60s, they introduced the “choose your own noodles” option which allowed the customers to choose from miswa, sotanghon, bihon, or the usual miki.
It was only in 1984 when they opened their first branch outside La Paz. Twenty branches later, Ted’s began franchising. Ted’s already numerous accolades include a trophy for 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist, awarded by global professional service firm Ernst & Young.
The secret: While batchoy recipes are almost the same, many Ted’s aficionados keep coming back and claim that “it’s in the broth.” The preparation of the broth is a well-kept secret.
Popoy’s Original La Paz Batchoy
Rodolfo “Popoy” Beniegas joined the industry when he put up his first batchoyan after the construction of Central Market in Iloilo City more than 40 years ago.
Popoy’s was hailed the “Best Batchoy” in the friendly competition organized by Reporter’s Journal of RMN-Iloilo. The brand’s batchoy is known for its huge chunks of chicharon and generous meat toppings.
The secret: The family says that Popoy’s is different from other batchoys because they use a special rock salt instead of the usual iodized salt, which “makes all the difference.”
Balai Kalan-an by Sabor Ilonggo
Batchoy is just one of the many Ilonggo specialties the restaurant serves. Balai Kalan-An is managed by Sally Genoveza, widow of Jessy Genoveza, former manager of the Iloilo Producers Association and the man behind Sabor Ilonggo—the home of delicious Ilonggo delicacies.
The restaurant’s menu includes its unique take on batchoy, the Bulalo Batchoy, where the richness of the broth of two heritage dishes—batchoy and bulalo—are combined in one bowl.
The secret: Balai’s bulalo, or popularly known in Western Visayas as cansi, broth features a light colored soup that is made by cooking beef shanks and bone marrow until the collagen and fat has melted into the clear broth.
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