Jojo Sia’s dinuguan and eel. When Richard goes fishing in Ormoc he always ends up in Tito Jojo’s place after. There he eats dinuguan that is consistently delicious. He also eats their homemade pizza that has become quite popular especially with the students from the school very near it. I personally do not like eating eel because I find its texture sandy in the mouth but for those who enjoy it, I am told that Tito Jojo makes a wonderful rendition of this fish — made with gata.
Martinelli’s Pizza Deli. Pizza parlors have mushroomed in the city, which is a good thing because who does not love good pizza? Martinelli’s is relatively new in the neighborhood but it is easily one of the best. I like thin-crust pizza so it was easy to take to this one. The crust is made with wheat flour and the flavors shine in delicious simplicity. Cheese and garlic is a classic favorite and their version does not disappoint, especially because it is generously laden with cheese. Other pizza stops include Titta Tatta (good value for money), Manina’s (known for their double crust) and Calda’s and Nano’s at the Riverside Mall.
Don Felipe’s. If you like a more doughy pizza, then the heft of Don Felipe’s Meat Lover’s Pizza is for you. I grew up eating this pizza also and it is a sentimental favorite. My siblings and I, together with our cousins from Cebu, were addicted to this dish called Planked Tenderloin but that is no longer on the menu, a reality that highlights the fact that, sometimes, some good things do not last. So yes, you lose some but sometimes gain even more — the gaping hole it left has been replaced with very commendable Japanese and Mexican dishes.
Don Felipe is also popular with catering because with them the food seems to go on forever.
Fried siomai from Bebida’s. Our daughter Juliana’s favorite. She has to eat it each time she comes with us to Ormoc. With chili sauce and/or dependable toyo, this one is a winner.
Bola-Bola siopao of Zenaida’s Chateau. When I was little I was one of those who liked siopao only for the dough. Back then I was not very fond of sweetish meat, which is how I can best describe the asado inside the siopao, so I would eat all the white dough while my sister ate all the filling (she was not fond of the dough). Together we made a good team. One day my dad brought home the bola-bola variant, and there my real love affair with siopao started. It was all I wanted siopao to be. In Ormoc, Zenaida’s has yummy bola-bola siopao.
Ikea.Has goodmango shake, and theirempanada has a fan base, too.
Lechon from Lorenzo’s and Songahid. We like our lechon delicious, the flavor intense, and like the Cebu style, always dunked in garlic-ky vinegar, the more native the better. Lorenzo’s and Songahid’s enjoy steady and abundant patronage from all corners.
Resing’s leche flan. We all know at least someone who makes good leche flan — and then there is Nang Resing’s leche flan. It has just the right amount of sweet that is not nakakaumay and it seems light but is actually not. It is robust and velvety, the way leche flan is pedigreed to be, and what sets her version apart from most is that hers is not cloying.
Johnny Conui’s longganiza. Oh, oh, oh, this one is just so good. It is simple and delicious and has to be attached to eggs and rice and vinegar for the ultimate breakfast. It has the right amount of fat and meat, a perfected formula of salty sweetness or sweet saltiness (whatever the case may be). This I think is how longganiza is really supposed to taste before man made an extra effort to make it more sophisticated. This one is definitely lami kaayo.
Tony Martinez’s merida sausages. Spanish sausages that draw customers even from beyond Ormoc and Merida shores. Tony is well-known for the Spanish sausages he makes in his own home, and of late he has even made a Pinoy version which has a gentler flavor. Try the Sur and the Dulce variants. They are perfect sliced and mixed into all those Spanish dishes we love — bichuelas, callos, etc.
Tina Santiago’s choco fudge. growing up, Lolo Tingting’s parties in his Carlota Hills home were never without Tina’s choco fudge. Between the ages of six and 12 I was probably half made of Tina’s choco fudge. I wanted it, and ate it, all the time. To this day, it is just as good, still cut the same way, and each bite is replete with happy childhood memories. Tina now has a pastry shop, called Tina’s Sweets, and there are even more things to love. For my part, I am just as smitten with her ube cake, and I love warming it a bit in the microwave until the flavor intensifies and the icing melts into the sponge cake. I. Love. It.
Gen’s Kitchenette. A very reliable go-to place when there are sudden guests and not enough food and you must order fast and good. Their battered chicken is always a hit, and with the lomi that they make so well your meal is destined to be a happy one.
Mayong’s schublig. If I have a siopao story then I must admit that I also have a burger story. I am not very fond of burgers, maybe because generally speaking I do not like ground meat too much, unless I eat them hot off the pan, in which case it does give me a measure of delight. But when Mayong’s opened everyone raved about their burgers (I know now why, because in the past years I have learned to appreciate burgers, getting a bite here and a bite there). However, I fell in love with their schublig. That said, I acknowledge too that their bread, which they make themselves, is delicious, and that is a large part of what makes their sandwiches so desirable.
Tita Meging’s stuffed turkey. Where this bird can turn out dry if not cooked properly,Tita Meging’s version is actually juicy and the leftovers are perfect in sandwiches. TitaMeging’s Hotdish (rice with sausage, chicken strips, gravy chips and sweet corn) is also in demand. Her fish salad is a crowd-pleaser as well.
Batangueno’s ice cream. Because of Batangueno’s ice cream, growing up there was never the fear of anything “dirty” in dirty ice cream. Batangueno, to this day, remains well loved by both the young and young at heart. There is always something happy about ice cream, especially when it comes to you in old-fashioned colorful carts with a smiling, fatherly manong behind it scooping out something that tastes like joy.
Yaya Hilda’s inun-uan cooked in a clay pot. I’m sorry, this is not for sale but should you come by our house in Ormoc I’d be happy to ask Yaya Hilda to cook some for you. To this day she cooks the fishpaksiw style in a clay pot. It is a magical mix of vinegar, ampalaya, ginger, and whole peppercorns and even with all the pots and pans available she is of the belief that it all comes together better in a clay pot. I have no reason to doubt her. Again, as with most Pinoy food, this one calls for stubborn servings of rice. Her humba and chicken pork adobo are invincible, too.
Yoyo’s adobong kangkong and grilled halwantasik. Not a fancy place, a hole in the wall when it started, but they gained a loyal fan base because of their adobong kangkong and grilled halwantasik. It is home cooking at its best and I would not dare dream of enjoying one or the other without, again, generous cups of white rice and Royal Tru Orange, my forever guilty pleasure.
Lito Rodriguez’s roasted lamb. When lechon becomes a bit much and you want something different but just as impressive, then you go the roasted lamb way. You can put aside whatever fears you have of lamb being too strong in flavor, or with too distinct a scent because Lito does it so well, he has the right recipe down to a science. Everyone who has ever tasted this has raved about it, and with good reason.
Pongos Hotel bam-e and palabok. A noodle fest from one source. Bam-e and palabok are so simple that no version should ever disappoint. But there are those that do just that, sadly, because they have been tweaked too much just so it can be called different, sophisticated even. This one is just plain, easy goodness that reminds you of happy homes and good friends.
Sashimi and tempura from Tempura House. The tempura is always good because the prawns are harvested fresh every day. This has gained a cult following in the city and buffet tables in parties there are almost always laden with boats upon which sushi and sashimi are arranged neatly and colorfully.
Salvaro. It is made with coconut, cooked under a tree, by the highway, on a makeshift pan. It is wonderful. For only P5 a piece, this stop highlights what is so wonderful about living in the province — the joy of the simple and the beautiful, and the blessing of clean air, nice people, and native treats cooked the traditional, old-fashioned way.
Juny’s oatmeal cookies and apple pie. I got this as a gift and what a delightful one it turned out to be.We ate it with coffee, with milk, warmed, cold from the refrigerator, at room temperature, and each time, each way, it was good.
Puto. Like the salvaro, this one delights in many more ways than just how good it tastes. It is representative of how some things have changed, and how many still stay the same. This is a charming stop. Best eaten with native hot chocolate to get any morning off to a good start.
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