Iloilo's cuisine won't be complete until we cite the best in Filipino dishes. Neither will it be the same without a story on the best-tasting seafood. So, without further ado, we bring you just that:
Breakthrough in Villa is already an institution of well-loved Ilonggo/Filipino cuisine. Its menu consists of a wide array of seafoods and grilled fare. But the best, according to my palate, are Breakthrough's Sisig and its Aligue Rice.
Either, eaten alone, would be enough to stop your world -- or at least a few of your arteries. But if enjoyed together as a meal, it would surely make your world spin, as it did mine.
The Aligue Rice is good for three people, for only the last time I had it. Would you believe I finished it off by myself, with the Sizzling Sisig that's good for two people? Oh man. So imagine my tummy's pain after my indulgence.
Aside from Breakthrough the other Filipino food "institution" in Iloilo is Tatoy's, and its sister company, Nes and Tats. Their specialties are similar to Breakthrough, but their native lechon manok really stands out. Aside from Nes and Tats and Tatoy's, only Erning's in Villa has captured the taste that's distinct to Tatoy's and Nes and Tats.
Another Ilonggo Filipino Specialty restaurant stands out in my book. I'm not exactly fond of gourmet Filipino food because I believe that Iloilo's carinderias are always better than the resto's, but there's one place of which I've heard a whole lot about: Bauhinia. With fare that's artistically arranged and given a creative twist, you'd think you were eating foreign food when you sample Bauhinia's delights.
We won't leave this article without telling you of a dirty Ilonggo gustatory secret: the Black Marlin.
I first tried the Black Marlin when I was in my teens, when my dad brought home this strange fish with a tough skin but meat that tastes -- and melts -- like butter on your tongue. I kept trying to find out what it was, but it was only when I was told of a certain fish that is sooo delectable, but has this quirk that when you consume it in large quantities, it causes diarrhea, that I learned that that fish I had in my teens could possibly be the Black Marlin. Given its hide and the succulent, buttery taste of the meat, the description and the fit is highly likely.
However, upon further research, I discovered that the Black Marlin is lumped with other species of fatty, oily fish. These fish are served at sushi bars and labeled as "white tuna" or "superwhite tuna." The more famous species that are mislabeled as tuna are the Escolar or snake mackerel, Oilfish and Butterfish. These species have high levels of wax esters, or more complex fat that neither the fish itself nor the human consumer can metabolize. Thus, if one eats Escolar or any of the other oily fish variants, a kind of stomach upset due to excess fatty esters, keriorrhea, may hit the unlucky fish gastronome.
If you find a fish that's buttery, melts in your mouth, and is so delicious, it's sinful, it may be any of the fish species we've just described.
In the Iloilo Fishing Port, however, the Black Marlin is the buttery fish that's known to the locals. So if you're up for an early food trip complete with an adventure of sorts, fish trading at the Iloilo Fishing Port Complex officially starts at 1AM. And as far as I've heard, there are establishments nearby which would accommodate the preparation and cooking of your fish.
We've given you a detailed survey of what gastronomic delights await you in Iloilo City. This list is by no means complete! Thus, you have to head on over to Iloilo, get in touch with bloggers like the men and women behind Iloilo's best food blogs like Flavours of Iloilo, Malditang Pinay, Lamon.Me or any of the other Iloilo Bloggers and ask them to tour you around and point you to the best eats and treats in this Visayan metro. We assure you, gastronomic treasures await for the adventurous food tripping soul! Dali na di, kaon na ta!