A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016
Here comes a rather lengthy food blog of travel around the beautiful Philippines – here comes A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016. I think you will like this one. Amazing variety from some beautiful stops across this incredible island in Philippines. Have a look here for some insights from previous trips, blog1, blog2.
I have created two blogs for this trip, one for the food experiences as below and one for the family stuff over on ninakennett.net, click here for that one.
Day 1 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 21/12/16
Nice enough local fare at Sherwood Bay Resort and not so good on the Western food. Major delays in their service of the food as well, like 20 minutes per person’s order. It also has a massive menu, of which half was not available. Cut the menu down Sherwood, and serve what you are good at. Less is more. You made us keep away from eating with you with poor service.
Day 2 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 22/12/16
A crappy breakfast @ Sherwood – 20 minutes serve time per person, so lets not go in to any more detail about the food at this place they do not deserve it. Lets focus at the good stuff we had on the trip.
For Mary’s Mum’s birthday we had Lechon on the beach, so off we trotted to Anda Beach on Panglau for the day. A day of fun and games and food of course with the most amazing views. A wow moment indeed.
We had the traditional Lechon, which is a whole pig stuffed with lemon grass, onions, salt & pepper and then slow roasted to porky perfection. You help yourself to a sharp knife and carve off chunks of crispy skin, and ultra-moist pork meat deeply flavoured by the stuffing. Self-service on steroids folks.
Black pudding was made, at special request, by Mary’s Dad. It’s delicious, seriously just delicious.
Mary’s Mum made her infamous tapioca pudding with evaporated milk. You just can’t get enough of this.
But there was also steamed shrimp, steamed crab, fired chicken, grilled whole fish, macaroni salads, coconut glutenous rice etc etc. What a feast in such an amazing location.
Later that night, dinner at Sherwood was spoilt due to an invoked 2130 curfew. We literally got asked to leave the dining room, despite wanting to order more food and drinks. I thought it was an hotel, not a boarding school. Have a read of my TripAdvisor review here. I suggest you do not stay there.
Day 3 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 23/12/16
We skipped the very probably crappy breakfast at Sherwood and went exploring Tagbilaran City.
Payag for brunch, 18 CPG East Avenue, 2nd Floor. Likely this will be the very best BBQ chicken you have ever had. It’s so succulent, smoky from the coals, and charred from the intense heat. We frequent this restaurant every single time we come to Tagbilaran, it is just so very good and constantly high quality. Sadly though the same does not apply to one of their franchise locations at BQ Shopping Mall – that was disgustingly dirty and the staff were completely not interested. Do not have your first Payag experience there, make sure you go to the East Avenue. Do we look happy and hungry? Oh yes indeed…
What did we eat this day;
- Superinato Combo – BBQ chicken and pork;
- Chicharon Bulaklak – BBQ chicken intestine;
- Chicharon Chicken – Deep fried chicken skin;
- Tinola Isop – Fish and vegetable soup that Mary said was quite delicious;
- Jo’s Chicken Inato – BBQ chicken minus the pork as above; and
- Green mango shakes – sour, almost sherbet like that give you a pallet cleanse between your food.
Payag churn out just incredible food. It is BBQ’d to perfection, with the absolute right amount of charring but then so moist and succulent inside. We washed the food down with green mango shakes which almost acted like a palate cleanser because of the sourness. And of course I also washed the food down with a cleansing local ale called San Miguel Pilsen.
Dinner later that night was a stonker at a place called Fiesta Filipina Cuisine, Upper Ground Floor, Luisa Gallery, Gallares Street, Tagbilaran City. “Home of your favourite Lutong Bahay” is their strap-line, which apparently means home of your favourite (home) food. I like that. Again can you tell we can’t wait to get stuck in to the food.
Here is the food mecca – a series of quasi-hawkers all in a row. We chose well though to come to this place.
What about the 360 though – turn left to see the restaurant frontage, come 90 degrees and see the guy cooking, turn 180 degrees and lets have a look at the view from the terrace we are sitting at.
What did we eat;
- Sizzling beef tapa – really nice with a deep deep rich sauce;
- Bol-anon fried beef strips – like beef KFC, beef deep fried in a crispy batter and served with chili dip;
- Sizzling pork steak – this is the best thing ever I think. This is up there as potentially #1 for whole trip, it’s just an amazing dish. Spicy, savoury, meaty, it has it all. And it is created right in front of you, including a fire display;
- Pancit Bol-Anon – a noodle dish with prawns, pork and vegetables. Quite a basic Filipino dish, but at the same time very tasty. Squeeze some lime on it to jazz it up a little.
- Bol-Anon Fish Kinilaw – raw fish, with coconut cream and lime juice (the lime ‘cooks’ the fish little with its acidity), some peppers, and some red onions. I have to say it does look rather good.
- Sisig – An absolute belter of a sisig, and I have had a few, this was so savoury, spicy, textural due to the pig jowl, and nice chunks of liver in there – again prepared in front of us with a fire display for this one too. Sisig is the meat from the pig’s jowl and cheeks (they call it the mask), and some liver, onion, chilli, special secret spices, a squeeze of lime, and a raw egg all served on a sizzling platter. BOOM!!!
Day 4 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 24/12/16
Dinner was so so at Sherwood By Resort, but the French onion soup was disgusting. I tried adding tabasco and salt & pepper which made it just about consumable. Seriously though look at this shitty dish.
It truly was disgusting, so I also opted for Chili Cheese Poppers which were awesome. Jalapeños, stuffed with cheese, wrapped in spring roll skins and then deep fried. Oh yeah baby. One of the Sherwood Bay Resorts stand outs. Believe me there are not many.
- BBQ pork & beef skewers – I also had these from the BBQ. They were so/so, a tad cold though;
- Chicharon – we had 3 serves of this, yep this was quality food – back to the comment of stick to what you’re good at Sherwood Bay Resort; and
- BBQ stuffed squid and tuna steak – Mary opted for two dishes tonight, and from what she tells me she chose well as both were quite tasty outcomes. Looks pretty good too.
We left before their curfew to have an early night, as we escape tomorrow to our other hotel.
Day 5 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 25/12/16
We ended up having Christmas lunch at The Kew Hotel, Tagbilaran City. This is about 6 months old, and became our oasis after our Sherwood Bay experiences. What a great hotel, I believe owned by Japanese, modern and funky that would grace any Capital City.
We ended up having lunch here after a 30 minute drive around the city exposed that everywhere was shut for Christmas Day until 1700. But the lunch was great, so we were really pleased to have this Hobson’s Choice placed on us. It was packed with locals too and that was just what the Dr ordered. What did we eat for our Christmas lunch today at The Kew Hotel;
- Chicken Halang Halang – Chicken cooked with garlic, ginger, onion, finger chilis and Bohol coconut milk;
- Grilled tangigue ala pobre – fish cooked with a dark sauce, ala pobre style, made from lemon juice and soya sauce;
- Sizzling Ozz Bucco – a beef shank stew with bone marrow, and an unctuous gravy. Good choice Ollie.
- Chicken & pork adobo – chicken and pork bite sized pieces, marinated in a soy and vinegar sauce with an hard boiled egg. Sticky gravy that is sweet, salty and sour all in one. Nice!
- Chicken in a basket – deep fried goodness served with a delicious gravy for dipping.
For Christmas dinner we go back to one of the closed joints we were hunting down for lunch. The Golden Cowrie. I will call out that this was the best complete meal I had this trip. This place was incredible and so so cheap its not funny. It was sublime food. Packed to the rafters too with locals. I am loving those signs as a foodie… The Golden Cowrie by the way is a shellfish not to dissimilar to the Floridian Conch, a marine mollusc which has a glossy, brightly patterned domed shell with a long, narrow opening. Back in the day it was used as currency in Indo-Pacific and Africa – go figure.
You have to come to VP Inting Street, Tagbilaran to try The Golden Cowrie, this gets a 4.8 out of 5 from me, it really was that good. Ring them on +63 38411 0323. This was a Christmas dinner from heaven, and yes I do believe I did hear angels singing at certain times. What did we eat (perhaps better = what didn’t we eat):
- Linat Ang Baka – beef rib soup with plantain;
- Baked scallops – roasted in the oven, with cheese on top. My Mary gave this a huge thumbs up;
- Pork sisig – one of the very very best I have ever had. Top marks to The Golden Cowrie. I tell you this would get 9.5 out of 10. Stellar!!!;
- Bicol Express, spicy, with coconut and salty due to shrimp paster (a little too salty and fishy for me actually due to the shrimp paste – quite intense actually);
- Grilled back ribs – fall off the bone meat that tastes like smoked and BBQ’d pork sausages;
- Grilled chorizo – delicious with the vinegar dip, deeply flavoured with ever so sweet Spanish paprika;
- Crispy Di Nuguan – a blood porridge dish that my Mary loves. It’s actually really good, quite irony like a black pudding, just in a semi-liquid form;
- Lechon Kawali – OMG this was absolutely amazing. A vinegar dipping sauce with crispy deep fried pork, some onions etc. Mana from heaven. You just cannot eat enough of this.
- Pandan chicken – chicken cubes wrapped in pandan leaves and then roasted on the BBQ, so the flavour sort of steams in to the meat;
- Squid rings – with some sauce or the other. I know Jimboy ordered this, but I have no notes on this one – shame on me. Looks kind of nice though.
This was indeed dinner for Kings & Queens, so ideal for Christmas day and our mate Jesus’s birthday. Here is what my Filipino Christmas dinner looked like. All served on a banana leaf. When you put the hot food on the leaf all the edges curl up making a natural bowl to stop the gravy spilling off. How cool is that.
Day 6 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 26/12/16
A proper Filipino breakfast with freshly made Tocino today, no tinned crap thanks Sherwood Bay. You can tell it’s fresh because the bacon puffs up as part of the cooking process. The corned beef was also to die for too. Thats mine tomorrow for breakfast for sure.
Today was some more shopping, and then fun in a pool park with the kids. Nice and relaxing. We went to JL Slides, just up the road from the hotel, about 5 minutes in a tricycle. We rented a gazebo and for lunch ordered a takeaway pizza from apparently the best pizza joint in Bohol, namely Shakey’s. The fact that it was established in 1954 is a good sign, in that they are still going strong. We ordered family sized garlic & cheese, and pepperoni pizzas. On the garlic & cheese one I added some sisig crisps/chips, which made it an absolutely amazing pizza with additional flavour and texture.
That creation gave me a new ‘pop-up’ restaurant idea – Asian Fusion Pop-Up Pizzas. Something along the lines of this for a menu;
- My Jamie Oliver award winning Laab Gai Pizza;
- Filipino Sisig Pizza;
- Lechon Kawali Pizza;
- Roast Singaporean Pork & Kimchi Pizza;
- Chicken Tikka Pizza with Raita.
What do you think? Would you come along to eat?
Tonight for dinner we had a big family meal at the reputed best restaurant in Bohol, namely Gerarda’s Family Restaurant. There are actually two of these in Tagbilaran, and yes Amy, Jhea and I went to the wrong one initially. But all was good in the end, as 14 of us rocked up for dinner. This was yet another major food event as we ordered and ordered and ordered. This place was yet again seriously good. Still though folks my favourite to date is The Golden Cowrie, that place shines for me.
But here we are – eating irons at the ready, bring it on Gerarda’s;
We ordered and ate the following;
Set meal for 10 people that consisted of;
- Samsi Soup – Chinese style vegetable soup with white asparagus and mushrooms;
Not bad, a tad bland in my reckoning though
- Mixed seafood – Mary gave this a so-so rating;
- Pork Kilawin – this was amazing, full of quality vinegary deliciousness;
- Beef Steak – I was a little disappointed with this dish, not as good as the rest sadly;
- Buttered Chicken – this was great, bite sized chicken pieces coated in a crispy batter;
- Chow Mein – seafood included so it was a no go for me. Again a bit of a so so response from those eating it though; and
- Plain steamed rice.
I also ordered al la carte the following;
- Sizzling Chicken Omelette – came with a sort of béchamel sauce, vegetables and chicken inside. It was OK, nice but not mind-blowing;
- Sisig – of course I had too. This was a rather strange version though. Very dark in colour, as I think it was loaded with soya sauce. Nice, but Golden Cowrie has you by the balls Gerard’s; and finally the best to last
- Crispy Tadyang Fried Beef – this was truly up there in dish recognition. Beef ribs deep fried in their own fat, air dried and served with chili vinegar dip. I think Belinda is a singing; “Ooooh heaven is a place on earth”. These were so good we ordered 4 servings. You just have to have this!
I even pushed the boat out and had dessert. There was one offering on the menu I just could not ignore. We ordered;
- Fried Ice Cream – sort of like fried bread with ice cream in between and then slathered with chocolate sauce. This was superb; and
- Black Sambo – yep you read it right. I could not quite believe my eyes when I saw it, ha ha. There it was front and centre in the menu. Apparently a Christmas favourite. Its sort of 100% cocoa with evaporated milk for the bottom layer, and then evaporated milk with gelatin for the top layer. I loved this. It’s a cracker. Almost truffle like chocolate on the bottom with intense cream on the top. Call it what ever you want, I’ll have it again.
Day 7 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 27/12/16
Off for an island tour today with Danny at the helm as our tour guide. Chocolate Hills, Tarsier, Blood Pacts, 18th Century Churches, River Cruises etc. A packed day with 14 of us in the bus. But this is a food blog, so let me get to the Loboc River Cruise Lunch. Its quite pricy, Filipino Peso talking, but it is a different way to have your lunch. On board a boat, dining as you meander up the river, soaking in the beautiful jungle scenery, live band chucking out sing-a-long songs and loads of local food to quaff down. Of course a couple of local ales to wash it all down.
Drifting down the Loboc River chomping on local grub and looking at the amazing scenery. Now that is not a bad way to eat local food now is it…?
We got back quite late, and again because we are embargo’ing Sherwood we decided to grab a HUGE Jollibee take-away. Burgers, chicken buckets, mash potato with gravy, cheesy chips and the like were all consumed in the hotel room on the floor. Camping style. Kids loved it, and so did I. A nice break from the fine dining, from what is one of the best fast foods I think you’ll get anywhere in the world.
Day 8 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 28/12/16
Yet another day escaping from Sherwood today. We decided to take a private multi-cab and drive down to Hennan Resort Alona Beach. Wow, with a capital W. This place is so so good. We actually did try to book this place for our stay, but it was solid booked. But hey we paid to get in for the day and we ate and ate here as well. Lunch was great. A tad over local local prices, but still not too bad in comparison to Singaporean pricing for food. And I have to say it was absolutely superb food, really it was.
Here we go;
First up was Gambas Al Ajilo – shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic, Spanish paprika and a wee dash of brandy. Ding dong! Sounds amazing doesn’t it. Not bad for pool bar food! Akin to our mate Eduard’s version at My Little Tapas Place, but Eduard’s is of course way better.
Jimboy, Jhea and Jude (all the J’s) ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger. A monster of a thing. Crispy bacon, grated cheese all atop a very well cooked medium rare patty.
I go straight on for the Pork Lechon Kawali with Tubar Vinegar and Chili dipping sauce. I tell you The Philippines do pork well. If you are a fan of roast pork with crackling, look no further. You have to come to Philippines. This version of the dish from Hennan Resort was just superiorly good. You have to try!!! Moist, crunchy, chili, vinegary, all in one – soooooo good!!!
Quite surprisingly Ollie went for pizza. A spicy meat lovers pizza. Nothing really more to write about this item, its a pizza that has meat and chili, hence spicy meat lover. Hmmmmm!
We also had two incredible little appetizers at the pool bar, but sadly because I was actually in the pool I have no photos. But these are also must tries at Hennan Resort, you just have to and absolutely crack a cold Pilsen when you do as these two are perfect bedfellows.
Spicy peanuts, fried in a certain way so not greasy. Mixed with chili and candied fruits. Corking!
Air-dried beef (OMG). Beef fried in its own fat until crispy, then air-dried, and served with that wonderful Tubar vinegar with chili, AKA Pinakurat. Holy shit – I could have eaten plate after plate after plate of this. You simply have to have this on a food bucket list.
And of course I could not turn down the chance to try the sisig here. Having smelt another guests plate of this, as he sat at the pool bar chomping it down, I just could not resist the urge to explore what their version would be like. I ordered it of course. This was a sisig sent from heaven my friends. It was missing the liver, but the little fatty bits made up for that, also a little crunch from the jowl bits. It was spicy hot which was awesome, almost to the point of being a little cheeky. Hennan Resort you have a sisig that easily has a place in my Top Ten Best ever. It was just incredible food, I loved this one. Even a wee unique addition of a squirt of mayonnaise on top – I think the Japanese version as it was a little vinegary in taste.
Dinner tonight was caused by me seeing a logo out of the corner of my eye when traveling to the ATM one night. I saw the big emblazoned sign stating SIZZLIN’. We just had to have a look and informed our driver to drop us off there rather than back at Sherwood Bay. Actually though the restaurant is called ‘Just Sizzlin‘, and is located at P Del Rosario Street, Tagbilaran. Only established since 2014, and brand new to this address. As the name suggests it is indeed a variety of foods served in a sizzling platter, a fusion of Filipino and Asian. Well that’s me sorted for the next few hours then!!!
We had the usual coronary overload of food, it goes like this;
- Sweet Asian Meatballs – scrumptious little morsels of meaty goodness with a delicious dip;
- Crispy fried shrimp – clearly not chosen by yours truly, but by Jimboy, Jhea and Amy. These things flew off the plate, the kids absolutely loved them.
- Vegetable Sinunuban – a Filipino vegetable and coconut milk soup. Jeeze this was top draw. Silky smooth, subtle coconut flavour and soft soft vegetables. An incredible vegetable soup this was.
- Lechon Bagnet – this is a roasted pork belly dish where the pork is stuffed, rolled, tied and roasted and for the crackling it is roasted separately and then sat on top. It gets served with a pickled relish called Atchara Papaya, which is basically pickled papaya. This was brilliant. Well of course it was as I chose it. I think I have competition for my slow roast pork belly as this was truly amazing.
- Hashed Beef – this was OK, not much singing from the rafters though. Wow am I getting picky. This is a dish of thinly sliced beef steak, mixed with sweetcorn, onions and Japanese Hayashi sauce.
- Cheesilog Rice Meal – here comes Ollie’s choice, and this is a fusion dish. Basically a sisig with cheese, that this place calls a cheesig, all served up with a fried egg and steamed rice.
- Grilled Stuffed Squid – in comes my Mary with another go at the stuffed squid BBQ. This one is grilled. Stuffing within the squid is made of chopped tomato, red onion, sautéed vegetables and oyster sauce. Mary gave this a major delicious thumbs up, soft and tender ever so fresh grilled squid. Yep she liked it.
- Sweet Bohol – in kicks dessert now, you know like fish this is not my favourite, but this was a funky dessert. Savoury more than sweet, despite the name. Its local Ube Jam made from yam, Calamay which is sticky rice, locally produced Cassave chips and then drizzled all over with Tableya Syrup – this is like the best caramel you will have ever had in your life. What a dessert!!!
- Baked Smalls – a sizzling platter of chocolate on the bottom, then topped with marshmallows. Whack that in the oven to toast the mallows and melt the chocolate. Serve that up a sizzlin’ with some biscuits to scoop the gooey mess up and stuff it in your gob. I had to try one of these and yep despite it being sickly sweet, it really was rather good.
Day 9 of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016 – 29/12/16
Our very last full day in Bohol for this trip sadly. We again escape early from Sherwood Bay, checking out at 0900am and having Danny collect us at circa 1000am. So happy to see that place for the last time. Off to The Kew Hotel again. Bags at concierge and off we go to the city. A little last minute shopping, an attempt to see Rogue 1 but the cinema had finished the showing, a revisit to Payag but a different branch but it was so so bad we left, off to Pizza Hut (well it does what it says on the tin) and meet up the extended family for dinner at a place I chose – a new one that no one knew of – named Persona Mesa, JA Clarin Street, Tagbilaran.
I loved this place. Two years in the making. Run by a lady called Marge, a self-confessed minimalist and designer. So the interior is all hers but so is the look of the food. She has created a chef relationship where he cooks and she plates – I like that. The food here, for our last dinner, was incredible. As always honest reviews will follow, as some hit my button and some did not.
What was also fantastic about this place was the size of the menu options – 3 pages only. Again minimalistic like the rest of the restaurant. Great choices that look pretty amazing, as you’ll see shortly. We dine well for our last family dinner in Bohol before an early early start for the journey home to Singapore. I would say absolutely come here if you happen to be in Tagbilaran or Bohol, this is a must try location. A suggestion would be a quick call to make sure you can get a table and also ask some directions – this is set back a little from the main road so blink and you’ll likely miss it – ring here +63 38 411 1113.
- Sisig triangles – a unique concept of sisig wrapped in wanton skins and deep-fried. Great for sharing, and turning sisig in to finger food. When I asked Marge about this dish she said; “Sisig is quite a smelly dish, as the hot skillet wafts smoke about and I did not want that in the small inside space we have. I wanted to contain it to the kitchen. So the sisig is cooked in the kitchen and hidden away in the wrappers.” Genius. Served with the usual vinegar dip. You have to try this.
- Beef Rendang – not the usual bright red rendang you’d expect from Malaysia. This almost had some Thai influence with a greenish tinge, I think caused by the use of more coconut cream. Mary and I will honour Persona Mesa with the title of probably the very best Beef Rendang we have ever eaten. This dish was stellar. Not big cubes of meat, but succulent and tender stripped meat in the sauce. This is shiok, die die must try – get this location and dish on your bucket list.
- Cheesy Bacon Bombs – again a unique little dish. Crispy bacon wrapped around cheesy mash potato with a hint of parsley. Bloody brilliant. Amazing little bites. Beer and this dish are best mates by the way.
- Mango Salad with Citrus Dressing – you think from that description it will come out as a salad in a bowl type thing, you know the usual salad presentation. But no. This comes out dressed to kill. A roll of thinly slices cucumber acts as the ‘bowl’, this contain shredded mango, a bulb of fresh mango, a steamed shrimp poking itself out and a shot glass of the citrus dressing sits alongside. So pretty as a dish and so delicious once you get to courage to destroy the presentation.
- Pork Binagoongan with fried Talong – I had a spoon of this and BOOM, personally way way too much shrimp paste in this. Wow double salty and really really fishy for a pork dish. Sorry guys this one is a little low down on the taste scoring despite it looking pretty damed amazing!
- Lechon Kawali & Dips – of course we had to have this, you just cannot have it if it is on the menu. And this was a fantastic version of the dish. Again presentation was exceptional and the taste sublime. These guys have also nailed the moist moist slow roast pork with maximum crunch on the pork crackling. Great job, delicious!
- Beef Calegreta – a tomato beef stew with cheese on top. Yep it is beef stewed in tomato sauce, with liver spread, topped with bell peppers and cheese. Now that is interesting indeed, not seen that combo before. My couple of spoonfuls led me to challenge that perhaps there is a little too much tomato in the sauce as that sort of masked the rest of the flavours of the meat and liver. Just my personal observation. But always good to get another view point, and Ollie states it was awesome and absolutely delicious. To each their own of course and great to get a balanced view.
- Classic Fried Chicken – not much to say about this one, apart from it does exactly what it says on the tin. It looks well up there in my reckoning in terms of fried chicken. Jhea ordered this, so I asked for her feedback and she burst in to hysterical laughter – I really am not sure what to make of that.
- Persona Spare Ribs – not saving the best to nearly last (that still has to be the Rendang) but this is not far behind believe me. You literally just have to brush your fork past these ribs and you create that meat waterfall, with the meat literally jumping off the bone it is that tender. This is another from the small choice menu that is killer and is therefore a must have.
- Lumpiang Suriwa – and now to literally the final dish review of A foodie Christmas in Bohol, Philippines 2016. This is it folks the last one. Hooray I may hear you say. Look at this plating. Can you believe that this is vegetable spring rolls? The rolls are covered in stir fried vegetables, studded with steamed shrimps and sprinkled with crushed peanuts. You had me at hello…