Iloilo is one of those places I never thought I will ever explore on my own. As I was uncovering little bits and pieces about Iloilo during my pre-travel research, I envisioned myself doing two things –to pray at the beautiful churches including the UNESCO World Heritage Church Miag-Ao Church, and to eat!
Batchoy is a dish characterized by a marvelous concoction of hot broth, noodles and slices of meat, liver and crushed pork cracklings originated in La Paz, Iloilo. Paired with pandesal or puto, batchoy is sunshine in a bowl during cold, rainy days.
The noodle soup dish is said to have been originated in the late 1930’s by Federico Guillergan. And in his namesake, he established Deco’s Batchoy. Deco's is now a popular batchoy food chain all over the country and as of today, there is one branch in Metro Manila, found in Makati.
Apart from Deco's, there were also other accounts about a certain Teodorico Lapura who, popularized batchoy via his namesake restaurant, Ted’s Old Timer La Paz Batchoy which was established in 1940’s. Ted's has a lot of branches in the Metro - the one near my area is found in Cubao.
When I was in Iloilo, I thought, what better way to end the competition between Ted's and Deco's than to try them both for myself?
So, first stop, Deco’s in Robinson’s Iloilo.
I was a bit letdown because I thought that Deco's might have scrimped my toppings BUT, I was wrong. The moment the broth touched my lips I knew I was in heaven. The broth has a full flavour, but the taste is clear, distinct, nuanced yet very simple.
Second stop, Ted’s Old Timer in Diversion Road
Unlike my Deco's bowl, the one I had at Ted's Oldtimer in Diversion road is an all out production. A bowl complete with egg and many little bits of meat all over the place. One word ... Yum!
I guess it is an endless battle to choose between the two popular batchoy restaurants and I won’t even attempt. Although, I am particularly haunted by Deco’s smooth, really flavourful broth, especially on a cold bed weather. Not even a trip to Ted’s Oldtimer in Alimall Cubao satisfied my craving for batchoy during one of those recent and frequent Quezon city rains.
Today, the Ilonggo specialty is a dish not just native in Iloilo, but is now a popular soup well-loved by the entire country. It's one of those dishes that has crossed boundaries. Even local instant noodles have a variety after the bubbling broth. I am not an Ilongo native, but ever since I have tried Batchoy in Iloilo, I am now an instant fan.
Batchoy can surely pump anyone up on a lethargic rainy day. And despite its lethal combination of pork, cracklings, beef, chicken and liver, I know I will always crave for this happy soup. It’s both life and death in a bowl and I would savor every spoonful.
This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for July 2011 with the theme: "Awesome Food Experiences While Traveling in the Philippines" hosted by Anton Diaz .