Sunday, October 6, 2013

Regional Cuisine II: Chicken Inasal, La Paz Batchoy, Pancit Molo and Lechon Cebu from the Visayas

Recent years have seen Iloilo's famed chicken barbecue called "inasal" rising in popularity in Metro Manila via the phenomenal fast food chain Mang Inasal. The latter opened in December 2003 in the province of Iloilo in the Visayan Region. Its name (Mang Inasal), by the way, is a Visayan term for Mr. Barbecue. Ten years after this restaurant first opened, its stores have grown in number to some 500 nationwide. There's a few others riding in the inasal bandwagon, offering not just Ilonggo-style chicken barbecue but other Visayan dishes as well. Two of such restaurants are the Bacolod Chicken Inasal and Inasal Chicken Bacolod. Their names are confusing, I know. I'm just as confused as you are. Hehe. One time, I was craving for La Paz Batchoy and happily got it at Bacolod Chicken Inasal at its branch at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. It was good! Very flavorful and the soup was hot and comforting. Batchoy is a soupy dish made out of pig organs, beef loin, noodles and chicharon. Its origin can be traced to the La Paz district in Iloilo City, thus the name. I paired my batchoy with grilled chicken liver and what a perfect pair it was! My daughter who was my companion had a pork barbecue meal called Quito. Meanwhile, a cup of brewed coffee provided a satisfying ending to my afternoon meal.

La Paz Batchoy

Atay (barbecued liver)

Quito (pork barbecue with rice)

Native brewed coffee

And then, just yesterday, I was at Bacolod Chicken Inasal again, this time with my little boy. I tried their Pancit Molo - a dish which name makes me wonder because it doesn't have noodles that would make it apt to be called pancit. Also, pansit is usually dry but Pancit Molo has broth which makes it a soup dish, am I right? Oh well, can somebody enlighten me on this? Hehe. Anyway, Pancit Molo is very similar to Wanton Noodles found in Chinese restaurants. However, I wasn't happy with the Pancit Molo that I had yesterday. It only had two pieces of dumplings and that's about it. Bacolod Chicken Inasal was stingy in here, I thought. Good thing I also ordered Puto Manapla, otherwise, I would still be leaving the restaurant hungry. Puto Manapla, by the way, is rice cake whose origin is the town of Manapla in Negros Occidental province. They're quite good and filling. My son, on the other hand, had chicken inasal, which he liked, although I think it's a little bland, comparing it with Mang Inasal's.  

Chicken inasal at Bacolod Chicken Inasal

 Pancit Molo

Puto Manapla
Inside Bacolod Chicken Inasal at the QC Memorial Circle

The masks are a reminder of Masskara Festival, held October every year in Bacolod

Meanwhile, last month, it was the Inasal Chicken Bacolod that we tried at SM City Manila. I was curious about Kansi - the Visayan version of bulalo, which might as well be a combination of sinigang and bulalo. So it was my order for dinner that Saturday while my daughter settled for chicken inasal. The Kansi was not as fab as bulalo nor sinigang per se. I still think that nothing beats nilagang baka or bulalo. My daughter likewise was not all praises for the inasal. She said she still preferred Mang Inasal's version. Oh well, we still had a yummy, sweet ending to our meal with the creamy leche flan.  

Chicken inasal at Inasal Chicken Bacolod


Leche Flan

Inside Inasal Chicken Bacolod at SM City Manila

Another favorite in the recent years is Lechon Cebu, which, foodies say, is better than the lechon (roasted pig) we have in Manila because of the herbs and spices used, plus no MSG was added. Some two months ago, the hubby fetched someone at the domestic airport who flew in from Cebu and guess what he brought home? Zubuchon - said to be the best lechon in Cebu! Oh yes, it was delicious, the flavor was full but not overwhelming. The meat was very tender too. The only sad thing was that the skin wasn't crispy anymore even though I warmed it in the oven. Probably because of the long distance and time this lechon had traveled to get to our plate. Even then, I was happy to sample the 
famed Lechon Cebu, and the best one at that.

Zubuchon Lechon Cebu

Visayan cuisine is interesting, don't you think so? Some of the dishes even have funny-sounding names. For instance, there's "laswa". To us who grew up in Manila, "malaswa" means obscene. So imagine how my daughter and I laughed when we read Laswa ni Lola in the Bacolod Chicken Inasal menu. Grandma is obscene! Haha! 
Oh well, there's a lot more Visayan dishes I'd like to try - Balbacua, Pancit Bam-i and Pancit Efuven. Soon, hopefully!