Taking a break from all of that oozing red mung bean goodness that is our Japan series, I’d like to show you some Philippine destinations that may not be within the pages of your most current revised edition Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.
My version of secret Philippine destinations happen to be all food stops and admittedly, it’s not a surprise why. We loves to eats. Yes, we do, my precious!
CRAFTY’S ROOFTOP – Boracay, Aklan
When the Santa Claus-ish owner of the entire building told me to NOT write about this place, I did exactly that. I kept this to myself. He wanted to keep the place as it is – a place for he and his friends to hang out plus maybe a couple of other people. It was a little secret that I happily kept to myself.
However, that deal all changed when I saw him put out an ad in the local My Boracay Guide.
I got wind of this place from a friend who was working on the island for the past 8 months, at the time. She gave us instructions to go to the Crafts of Boracay supermarket on the main road, just next to D’Mall. Then, she said, we should climb all the way to the very top until we hit the rooftop.
You’ll know when you get there (it’s only 4 -storeys high, after all) because the cool breeze will slap you gingerly, telling you that it IS time for some good food.
ORDER SUGGESTION: If you love spicy food – I mean LOOOOOOVE it and I mean SPPPPIIIIIIICCCCCCCCYYYYY – then order the Chicken Madras.
Don’t do the newbie mistake and putting all the delicious spicy goodness onto your rice. Nope, the spice and chilies ON the chicken will already have you reaching for a beer AND a lassie. This dish is painfully yet so deliciously hot. It’s hot but it tastes goooood.
I can’t recommend anything else because in the few times I was here, that dish was the ONLY one I ever ordered. However, you can tell that the menu is just littered with awesome items – there’s something in it for everybody from Thai food to Filipino to American to Indian. You can go from lomi to tapsilog to burgers to curries.
KING GEORGE RIBS – Capiz, Roxas
I never got to see the place or how they make the food. This was in my trip to Roxas, Capiz last year. My ankle got sprained pretty badly and we needed to go out for dinner. The photographer on this trip and someone from the magazine decided to head out and bring me back some grub. They came back about an hour later with non-descript Styrofoam containers with some plain-looking ribs in them.
With none of the local restaurants jumping out doing jumping jacks in my mouth, I started eating the pack as a means to nourish myself and not as a scrutinizing foodie after some discerning flavors. After the first bite, however, my life changed. I stopped to examine the cow carcass I held in my hand as I sat up on the bed of our for-the-night apartment. It was delicious and moist and didn’t give me a garden to pieces of meat between my teeth.
It’s definitely in the Top 3 ribs I’ve ever had. Not as monstrous of serving like Casa Verde in Cebu nor does it match my Mom’s barbecue recipe – but it was close enough – especially from a place that’s not really known for ribs and barbecue.
I tried looking for it online but all I saw are Foursquare and Facebook check-ins. I don’t even know if the place still exists, to be honest.
PEACOCK GARDEN RESORT – Baclayon, Bohol
Well, this place isn’t really a hole in the wall.
The Peacock Garden is a definitive luxury resort that costs at least $300 for a night’s stay. AT LEAST. The menu is filled with excellent western, particularly German, offerings but the one secret that this place has is their homemade ice cream.
Ice cream in the middle of Bohol. I’ve had several flavors during my first visit, I remember something with cinnamon, I remember something with some herbs but the most memorable flavors were the ones I had in my most recent trip to the Peacock Garden.
Number one is the Banana Coconut Curry. This. Is. The. Best. Ice. Cream. On. The. Planet. Ever.
There is no comparing to it. The smoothness and the creaminess of the banana-infused custard base melds well with the rough and grainy texture of the coconut bits. Then as it trickles down your throat, the spice of the curry makes a warm trail from your mouth down to your deepest innards. I can marry this ice cream.
I’ve told myself time and time again, if I find myself in Bohol again- I will definitely make the effort to go all the way to Baclayon just to have this ice cream intravenously introduced into my system. I have yet to figure out how to get the darn thing in Manila without melting into a sad unfinished symphony but I’m pretty sure THE DAY will come when I will be able to bring this mother out to everyone who is missing out.
So there, that’s it- that’s the Top 3 secret Philippine destinations with regards to all things yummy! There are still a LOT of secret places that you should know about but maybe, for now, I’ll keep them all to myself. I wouldn’t want everybody rushing in and turning my indie favorite into mainstream madness.