Monday, August 29, 2016

Food trip Bicol!

If you read my previous post about Bicol cuisine, you know that I've visited that region thrice, thus, had the chance to embark on some gastronomic adventures along with family and co-workers on separate occasions. On my first time in Legazpi City, 
however, I didn't have any chance to eat out. I had all my meals 
in my host's home the entire short period I was there 
on an official trip circa 2006. 
In 2012, my Legazpi trip was made with family and purely for pleasure so I had all three days spent munching and seeing sights. Last July 2016, I was again on official trip to the same Bicol city but it was a more relaxed and extended stay than the first, and eating out to the max was a fulfilled plan. Needless to say, I and my companions on all those eat-outs were able to try different restaurants and eateries, not just in Legazpi but also in some areas of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur where we 
passed by going to Albay. 
In those foodie adventures, we were able to enjoy Bicolano dishes 
to the hilt plus other non-traditional or non-regional food. 
Here's a rundown of those foodie places I've visited 
with family and co-workers:

Adamme's Pahingawan Diner
A bowl of 'Kinalas' at a Naga City 'carinderia'

Travelers by land from Legazpi to Manila wouldn't usually pass by Naga City but we intentionally did, thanks to my kind boss who agreed to search for a good bowl of "kinalas" - Bicol's own version of the noodle dish "mami". My Google search as we traveled yielded some nice-sounding foodie places that our driver gamely brought us to, but woe to our group of four, parking was a big problem so we had to contend with a small roadside "carinderia" for a lunch of kinalas. The soup, though a bit too salty, was delicious and hot, providing comfort to our hungry tummies. 
At Adamme's, kinalas is only around P40 each bowl.  

Bigg's Diner
These were our orders for breakfast at Bigg's Diner when my family went on a short vacation in Legazpi City in 2012. Notable is the mashed potato (top, right) as it looks like 'puto'. This was tasty but everything else was, too! 
Bigg's Diner in Legazpi City circa 2012. Notice the nostalgic and very 
'60s-inspired interiors that I loved. 

Memorabilia items on display at the old Bigg's Diner-Old Albay St., Legazpi

Going back to Bigg's Diner-Legazpi in July this year with some co-workers, 
these were our orders:

Clockwise from top, left: fresh salad; carbonara and pizza bread combo; clubhouse sandwich with fries; spaghetti, chicken and pizza 
bread combo; goto and tokwa

The cappuccino cheesecake (top, right) and brewed coffee were la-la-love! The carrot cake was also quite good but it was too sweet for me.

Notice that the interiors have changed this year. The place is now more colorful, 
modern and clean-looking. I miss the feeling of nostalgia, though.

Bigg's Diner is the largest chain of restaurants in Bicol with at least a dozen branches throughout the region. It has even expanded to Calabarzon, with a branch now open in Batangas. I loved the diversity in Bigg's menu, having both Pinoy and Western dishes in it. Their Old Albay (Legazpi City) branch where I've dined twice - four years apart - has nice, colorful interior design with both modern and nostalgic elements. It's the food, however, that's the focal point at Bigg's Diner. Everything is good, though on different levels. My top favorite was their pizza bread. It was surprisingly delicious and worth coming back for. They have pretty good brewed coffee, too, which is served with a piece of my childhood favorite Chocnut. Prices at Bigg's Diner are very reasonable, making this restaurant hugely popular in Bicol. I won't be surprised if I find a branch in Metro Manila someday -- and I hope that would be soon!

Balay Cena Una
Our orders consisting of mostly Filipino dishes including Pinangat 
and Bicol Express at Balay Cena Una
Balay Cena Una on F. Lotivio St., Barangay Bagumbayan, Daraga, Albay
It was in 2012 when my family and I went to have lunch at Balay Cena Una in Daraga, Albay, after visiting Cagsawa Ruins. How my sisters and I loved this place! It's an ancestral home-turned-restaurant and evoked much old-world class and elegance. Traditional Bicolano dishes such as Pinangat and Bicol Express were among our orders, but some Asian entrees such as Tom Yam (which my sister also had then) are also available. Prices are a bit steep but still very reasonable considering the excellent ambiance. This place is a must-visit when in Albay.

Lumpiang sariwa and spaghetti plus iced coffee and juices
for afternoon snacks at Graceland 

Graceland in Daet, Camarines Sur
Apart from Bigg's Diner, Bicolanos must also be proud to be the home of the multi-awarded fast food chain Graceland. Started in Naga City in 1976, this restaurant is pioneering in some fronts and ever-evolving to become an ice cream parlor, a hamburger restaurant, pizza place, and specialty bakeshop over the years. This, from just being a "turo-turo" offering pancit, chopsuey, fried chicken and other viands typically served in carinderias. Graceland now has over 10 branches in Bicol provinces, including in the regional capital of Legazpi City. It was at the Hypermarket in Daet, Camarines Norte where we stopped for a light afternoon merienda at Graceland. Their Lumpiang Sariwa was really good, and so was their iced coffee. Aside from the usual fast food fare of spaghetti, hamburger and fries, they have rice meals, too, and regional dishes such as the proverbial Pinangat. 
La Mia Tazza Coffee
La Mia Tazza Coffee on Old Albay St., Legazpi City 
In  my latest trip to Legazpi City, I was fortunate to have as one of my companions a co-worker/friend who shares my "deep" love for coffee. One morning, we "escaped" the boss for coffee and cake and made our way to La Mia Tazza Coffee. It's a no-frills coffee shop that specializes in caffeine products with pili, which is another pride product of Bicol. This place offers, aside from coffee and other specialty drinks, 
sandwiches and cakes. 

Macagang Diner 
Whatever you're craving for, chances are, it's available here at Macagang Diner. And the pizza tastes as good as it looks - take note of the whole lot of toppings! This roadside restaurant is a winner for weary (and hungry!) travelers. 

It was in 2012 when my family and I stopped by Macagang Diner along the national highway in Nabua, Camarines Sur on our way home to San Francisco, Quezon from Legazpi. This place with simple interiors has an interesting and quite extensive menu consisting of popular merienda fare such as pizza, burger and fries, and clubhouse sandwich, as well as rice and pasta combo meals. 
Food is reasonable priced.  

Small Talk Cafe 
Our orders (clockwise from top left): pinangat; tilmok; ginataang manok; drinks; complimentary soup; combo meal of kandingga and 
pork binagoongan; pork binagoongan. 
Inside Small Talk Cafe on Doña Aurora St., Legazpi City

It was on a rainy night last month (July) when I was here at Small Talk Cafe with three of my co-workers, our boss included. It's a charming place - a residence turned into a restaurant. On the menu are traditional Bicolano dishes plus many others. I guess it's one of the popular restaurants in Legazpi as there was a lot of customers that night - some of them foreigners. The food here is good and reasonably priced. We paid just over P600 for our orders that satisfied our group of four. The dish that I liked best among our orders was the pork binagoongan - very flavorful! It was salty, spicy and a little sweet all at the same time. It made me eat more rice than I usually did. Service is fast and efficient, too! Small Talk Cafe is also must-try in Legazpi City.

Our welcome dinner  - mixed seafood, fried Bicol express, fish sinigang, 
grilled tanigue  and fried chicken
Sagitsit along Legazpi Boulevard, Legazpi City

In my latest trip to Albay, I was very happy to see the new Legazpi Boulevard that was still under construction the last time I was there in 2012. The baywalk offers a magnificent view of Mt. Mayon by the sea, and the experience of seeing this majestic volcano can be made complete by a satisfying meal at any of the restaurants on the side of the boulevard. One of them is Sagitsit, which, at dark, becomes more of a bar than a restaurant. Filipino food is on the menu, including, of course, Bicol Express and other dishes that are distinctly Bicolano. Seafood is available, too, as you could see in our orders. Our dinner was a filling, satisfying feast. 
Meanwhile, service is fast. The interiors are Pinoy-inspired. I don't have an idea with regard the prices, however, because our gracious hosts -- local newsmen in behalf of the city mayor, we were told -- were the ones who placed the orders and paid for everything. 
Such hospitality!

1st Colonial Grill Express
Clockwise from top left: Sili ice cream; Pili ice cream;
Kalamansi ice cream; Tinutong ice cream
Sili ice cream, Level 2 
Sili, pili and malunggay ice cream 
1st Colonial Grill Express on Rizal St., Daraga, Albay

I've been here at 1st Colonial Grill Express also twice - in 2012 and 2016. For the Instagram-worthy sili ice cream, this place is definitely a must-visit when in Albay. Those who are not very fond of spicy food, nothing to worry. The spiciness of the ice cream comes in Levels 1, 2 and 3 so one could 
choose what he/she can tolerate. 
If you don't like sili at all, there are other unique ice cream flavors that are available and worthy of trying. There's malunggay, pili, tinutong (toasted rice), and kalamansi. Of these four, pili is the best for me for its just mildly sweet nutty taste. But if you're hungry and want a full meal before having ice cream, there's a lot of other items on the menu. There are even rice combo meals available, as well as desserts aside from the uniquely flavored-ice cream. The servers are attentive and friendly and menu 
prices are also reasonable.

There you go, my short list of been-there foodie places in Bicol Region that you could also try and enjoy as much as I did. Enjoy this gastronomic paradise of a region 
that's a feast for the eyes as well. 
Happy eating!

No comments:

Post a Comment