Our TV program, “Foodprints,” went recently to Tacloban, the provincial capital of Leyte, which I had never been to.
The trip gave me a deeper knowledge of the local food, the people and its culture.
Every Tacloban resident I spoke to had a story to tell about the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda”—from sadness and hopelessness, to the spirit of sharing and bayanihan and, eventually, recovery.
As for the food, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard about moron, sweet malagkit combined with cacao, but I wanted to discover more.
At Sunzibar, Mary Anne Wenceslao served homemade nachos with sweet, chopped beef and cheese topping. Delicious!
We also loved her Rum Ribs Diablo and spicy pork chop. Her lemon cucumber drink was refreshing.
At Dahil Sa ’Yo Fastfood, we tried an interesting dish called hot pacdol or bulalong kalabaw, which comes alive with toyo, kalamansi and some sili dabbed over the tender meat.
I also liked the Visayan version of kilawing isda, which has gata.
Another dining place worth visiting is Giuseppe’s, where we enjoyed exceptional pastas, pizzas and other authentic Italian dishes. Sarap!
Fresh seafood at Ocho
But perhaps the best representation of Tacloban cuisine is Ocho seafood restaurant. From its spread of freshly caught fish and shellfish, you choose which one you want. It is cooked to your preference: grilled, fried, steamed or served raw, as in sashimi.
I fell in love with the fresh scallops with butter and garlic. A fish called tonto turned out to be one of the tastiest I’ve ever had—grilled, the meat moist, flaky, simply delicious.
Another restaurant, Chew Love, owned and operated by Coke Young Go, serves an outstanding adobo. It had a delightful mix of vinegar and, instead of soy sauce, cacao. The meat was tender and rich in taste. The cacao gave it a unique new flavor without the saltiness of the soy.
Calle Z restaurant has good bulalo and crispy tenga.
The biggest surprise came from Hotel XyZ, where we were booked. Its coffee shop had delicious Thai food that was better than what is served in many restaurants in Manila.
The pad Thai noodles were al dente and chewy, the sauce salty, sour and sweet, with a little spice if you wish.
Mabuhay ang Tacloban!
The second Fukuoka/Hiroshima food tour has been moved to the third week of June.