Calabarzon Food Crawl: Appreciating authentic local dishes in South Luzon

Asiong restaurant - sapin-sapin
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Last April, I joined a 2-day food tour in Calabarzon covering selected traditional Filipino restaurants in this area. This tour is in line with the Philippine’s first National Food Month, organized by QuePATTA (Quezon Province Association of Travel and Tour Agencies) and Department of Tourism.

What I love about this food tour is that I discovered a lot of great local restaurants where I’d like to actually bring my friends and family over and learned about local delicacies in each province. Filipino cuisine may not be the most popular in Southeast Asia, but we can change it by supporting local restaurants and suppliers, learning more about our roots and promoting food that we genuinely love!

That aside, here are the restaurants that we visited during our Calabarzon food tour. You can do this food tour too!

Asiong Cavitenong Restaurant (Silang, Cavite)

Asiong’s is considered a pride of the province of Cavite. It was built in the 1960s as a small carinderia and is now a full-fledged local restaurant serving home-cooked Spanish-Filipino fare to fellow Cavitenos and residents of neighboring provinces. If you’re visiting Cavite, this restaurant is a must-try!

This is actually my favorite stop in our food tour. The restaurant is beautiful and spacious, and there’s an alfresco garden area where you can eat. We had our breakfast here — each dish has a story, ingredients are locally sourced and everything was delicious!

For starters, we had pan de troso (bread with rosemary and garlic) with quesillo spread (kesong puti in olive oil and herbs). The bread smells so good and the quesillo was light and fluffy.

Asiong restaurant - pan de troso and quesillo
Pan de troso with quesillo.

For the mains, we had carioca (ground pork, carrots and egg; served in a rice plate) and local longganisa. The carioca was good as well, and my fellow bloggers commented on how the fried slices of banana is just sufficiently sweet and crisp. We also had fresh pako with homemade vinaigrette — another favorite of mine, this pako salad is the best version I’ve tasted as of yet.

For dessert, we had sapin-sapin topped with sweet caramel sauce. Asiong’s sapin-sapin isn’t just about looks — each layer has a different flavor: ube, langka and buko. It’s so good especially when warm.

Asiong restaurant - sapin-sapin
Sapin-sapin.

For drinks, we had Pahimis Blend coffee (a blend of excelsa, arabica, robusta and liberica) and cucumber-kale juice.

Asiong restaurant - pancit pusit
Pancit pusit.

After our breakfast, Asiong’s owner Sonny Lua graced us with a cooking demonstration of pancit pusit. Pancit pusit is one of Asiong’s bestseller and frequently requested by customers. It’s good and you can actually taste the squid flavor in the noodles. It’s topped with vegetables and chicharon.

Read more about Asiong restaurant here.

Location: Buenavista Street, Bucal, Silang, Cavite
Contact: Facebook

Don Juan Boodle House (Lipa, Batangas)

Don Juan Boodle House serves Filipino favorites: including local dishes, ihaw-ihaw and boodle fight. It’s a good option especially for groups and even those who want to introduce Filipino-style eating to their non-Filipino friends.

There are different types of boodle fight to choose from: Davao Boodle, Inihaw Boodle, Southern Tagalog Boodle, Military Boodle, Taal Specialties and Military Boodle. Each order is good for 4-6 people.

Don Juan Boodle Fight in Batangas

Don Juan Boodle Fight - Taal Specialties
Taal Specialties.

We had Taal Specialties. I liked the pork liempo and adobo sa dilaw. Sweet slices of watermelon served as refreshing dessert.

Location: P. Torres Street corner G.A. Solis, Lipa, Batangas
Contact: Facebook | Website

Quezon’s Best House of Pasalubong and Restaurant (Tiaong, Quezon)

If you’re in Quezon, don’t forget to drop by this pasalubong center and restaurant. Quezon’s Best House offers not only different food but also coconut by-products including oils, balms and more. I bought a coco-menthol balm which is good for insect bites (P100 only). As a traveler, I often go places where I suffer insect bites, and this one is better than other creams I bought from pharmacies. My dilemma now is where to get new stock once mine runs out.

Quezon's Best House of Pasalubong and Restaurant
Various food pasalubong and coconut products.

Anyway, we had snack here — macaron, cupcake and halo-halo. The pastries were good and can compete with popular brand products. The halo-halo is new in that a dollop of coco jam is added on top instead of the usual leche flan.

Quezon's Best House of Pasalubong and Restaurant - halo-halo
Halo-halo topped with coconut jam.

Even if you aren’t hungry, this is a good stop for local products when you’re traveling in this area.

Location: Tiaong By Pass Road, Tiaong, Quezon

Earthkeepers Garden & Restaurant (Tiaong, Quezon)

This unassuming garden restaurant serves organic home-cooked meals served in glass bottles or banana leaves. It also serves snacks, such as suman and (during our visit) and sinulbot. Sinulbot is composed of sticky rice cakes in a latik sauce (sauce made of coconut milk and brown sugar). Sinulbot is often called “pre-kalamay”, i.e., it’s kamalay half-way into cooking. Sinulbot is warm and delicious, perfectly paired with refreshing buko juice.

Earthkeepers Garden and Restaurant - sinulbot
Sinulbot.
Earthkeepers Garden and Restaurant - homecooked meals
Homecooked dishes in glass bottles.

Earthkeepers Garden & Restaurant is conveniently located beside a gas station, so it’s also a popular stopover in Quezon Province. Aside from eating, you can also explore its gardens and buy arts & crafts.

Location: Km. 101 Maharlika Highway, Talisay, Tiaong, Quezon
Contact: Facebook

Ouans The Farm Resort

Ouans The Farm Resort is a popular family resort in Lucena, Quezon. This is our overnight accommodation for the Calabarzon food tour. Before resting for the night, we enjoyed a delicious dinner. We had escabeche (sweet and sour fish), adobo sa puti (adobo without soy sauce), pinais (coconut with shrimp, wrapped in banana leaves) and tulya at hipon sa buko as soup. Personally, I love the adobo sa puti and tulya at hipon sa buko, while everyone else gushed about the pinais.

For dessert, we had nilupak made with peanuts.

Dinner at The Ouans Farm Resort
Bamboo holding escabeche (sweet and sour fish), adobo sa puti (adobo without soy sauce), pinais (coconut with shrimp).
The Ouans Farm Resort - tulya at hipon sa buko
Tulya at hipon sa buko.
The Ouans Farm Resort - nilupak
Nilupak made of peanuts.

(Note: The food specified in our dinner was especially prepared for us but is also available to regular guests upon request.)

Dinner was followed by a “tagayan” ritual, a way of welcoming tourists by offering and sharing lambanog (local alcohol made from distilled coconut nectar).

Kat in Grandma's Kitchen, The Ouans Farm Resort
Grandma’s Kitchen, The Ouans Farm Resort.
The Ouans Farm Resort, Grandma's Kitchen - breakfast buffet
Breakfast: tinapa, malunggay omelette, longganisa and fried rice.

For breakfast, we dined in at the resort’s in-house restaurant called Grandma’s Kitchen. The breakfast buffet included tinapa (smoked fish), malunggay omelette, longganisa and fried rice.

Location:Km 133 Diversion Road, Kanlurang Mayao, Lucena, Quezon
Contact: Facebook
Book your stay here

Luisa and Daughter Restaurant (Lucena, Quezon)

Luisa and Daughter Restaurant is a humble family-run restaurant offering lutong-bahay dishes in Lucena, Quezon.

Luisa and Daughter Restaurant - chami and turon
Chami and mini-turon.

Here we watched a cooking demonstration of chami, a type of thick-noodle dish which comes with regular, spicy or sweet-spicy sauce. We had the chami as a snack (I prefer the sweet-sauced chami) along with a plate of mini-turon. We also had fresh melon juice for refreshment.

Location: Quezon Avenue Extension, Brgy. Gulang-Gulang, Lucena, Quezon
Contact: Facebook

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan (Tabayas, Quezon)

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan is a beloved restaurant in Tayabas, Quezon. The restaurant features a man-made pond with about 60 floating cottages where guests can eat fresh seafood and other Filipino lutong-bahay. There’s also an option to catch fresh tilapia in the pond!

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan restaurant in Quezon
Floating cottages serve as dining area.
Kamayan sa Palaisdaan restaurant musicians
We were serenaded while singing.

We arrived here for lunch. We had ginataang suso with pako (snails with fern in coconut milk), grilled liempo and grilled tilapia. I’d never had suso before so it’s a new experience for me, sucking the meat out of the shell. We had fresh buko to wash down our meal.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan restaurant - food
Grilled liempo, tilapia and ginataang suso with pako.
Group photo in Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - pilipit
Pilipit.

For dessert, we had pilipit, a type of pastry made from kalabasa flour and honey, which is sweet and crunchy.

By the way, while we were eating, a group of musicians stopped by our cottage and serenaded us with classic Filipino songs. It was a nice touch and gave me a nostalgic feeling about living here in the Philippines.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan offers not only delicious Filipino food but also a unique & fun dining experience.

Read more about Kamayan sa Palaisdaan here.

Location: Brgy. Dapdap, Tayabas City, Quezon
Contact: Facebook | Website

Kape Kesada (Paete, Laguna)

Kape Kesada is a quaint art gallery slash coffee shop located in Paete, Laguna. Although small, this cafe will surely impress you with its art collection and cozy ambiance. There’s also an alfresco area overlooking a small river.

Kat in Kape Quesada
Alfresco dining area.
Kape Kesada - snacks
Minani (cassava cooked mani-style), kalamay (commonly known as biko) and latik (mixed vegetables in coconut milk).

We had snacks here: minani (cassava cooked similar to mani or peanuts) and kalamay (local term for biko) paired with laksa (mixed vegetables in coconut milk). The minani is particularly interesting to me, as it’s my first time to taste cassava prepared this way. True to its name, it’s crunchy, salty and garlicky and perfect as a snack. The kalamay and laksa is a good pairing combination — the kalamay was really good that I had a second serving.

Location: Quesada Street, Paete, Laguna
Contact: Facebook

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery (Angono, Rizal)

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant is one of the best restaurants you can find in Rizal. It serves traditional Filipino cuisine and highlights ingredients native to Angono. Exotic fare is also available, such as its trademark minaluto. The restaurant also houses an art gallery where you can see paintings, wooden sculptures and other special crafts created in the province.

Balaw-Balaw is my second-favorite restaurant in our Calabarzon food tour. I’d actually known about it before and was even planning to drop by when we visited Antipolo the last time, although time constraints prevented us from doing so.

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant - minaluto
Minaluto with yellow rice.
Balaw-Balaw Restaurant - minaluto
Minaluto with squid rice.
Balaw-Balaw Restaurant - side dishes
Side dishes and appetizers.

Here, we were served various types of appetizers and side dishes including crispy alagaw (an alternative to kangkong), nilasing na hipon (shrimp marinated in alcohol), different vegetable salads and binalot na itik sa pita (native duck in pita bread). There’s also a pot of lauya (beef soup). The staff also prepared minaluto (a local version of Spanish Paella) in yellow rice and squid rice. The minaluto is cooked with various types of meat and seafood (including shrimps and crabs).

Again, I love most of the food here in Balaw-Balaw restaurant especially the minaluto with squid rice. It’s definitely a must-visit especially if you’re after filling Filipino food.

Read more about Balaw-Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery here.

Location: Dona Justa Street, Angono, Rizal
Contact: Facebook | Website

Side tours and activities

Aside from restaurants, we also stopped by heritage locations. These are:

Casa de Segunda Katigbak Ancestral House (Lipa, Batangas)

Casa de Segunda, Lipa, Batangas
At Casa de Segunda ancestral house.

Casa de Segunda is the home of Jose Rizal’s first love, Doña Segunda Solis Katigbak. It was built in the 1860s and is one of the 3 houses which survived the bombings in Lipa during WWII.

Quezon Capitol Building (Lucena, Quezon)

The Quezon Capitol Building is a century-old structure constructed in neo-classical art deco style. It was damaged during WWII and then restored in the 1940s. It’s considered a National Historical Landmark.

Fruit and vegetable carving activity at Municipal Hall (Paete, Laguna)

Fruit and vegetable carving in Paete, Laguna
Fruit and vegetable carving.

Paete is known as the Wood Carving Capital of the Philippines, and in recent years, its locals have expended their craft to include fruit and vegetable carving. Here we witnessed an actual fruit & vegetable carving activity to product animals, flowers and even a sail boat for decoration.

Thank you!

I’d like to thank the QuePATTA (Quezon Province Association of Travel and Tour Agencies) and Department of Tourism for inviting me to this 2-day Calabarzon food tour.

A thank you also to the following officers of Quepatta: Stella Salvacion (My Journey Travel and Tours President), Nino Magararo (Rainsummer Travel and Tours Vice-President), Maria Luisa Villabroza (Myles Travel and Tours), Marilyn Mendiola (Sunburst Travel and Tours Treasurer).

Book your Calabarzon culinary tour

For culinary tours in Calabarzon, you can contact Fantasia Travel and Tours.

 

What other great local restaurants can you recommend in Calabarzon? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. This is a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing. I think there are still a lot of unique food to be discovered in Calabarzon. Hope to see more of these in your next blog.

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