The cuisine of Iloilo in the Visayas Region is known to be robust, full-flavored, and deeply satisfying. The last time I was there a few years ago, the locals fed us with rich molo and batchoy soups made with stocks rich with schmaltz (chicken fat) and pork bones, deliciously porky little sausages served with fried eggs for a suitably magnificent breakfast, Spanish-inspired stews that stick to one’s ribs in the best manner possible, fine grilled fowl marinated in kalamansi lime and annato (achuete) oil [inasal], and fabulously rich desserts straight out of a Spanish-run convent.
I’ve not had time to return to Iloilo, though I was recently on the neighboring island of Cebu (more about that in another post), but Ilonggo and Bacolonon (from the nearby city of Bacolod) food can be found in various places here in Manila for a reasonable price. Fortunately for this hungry urban warrior, the nearest place is just a short walk away at Inasal Joe.
Here, P 99.00 gets you the Liempo Inasal (pork belly marinated and grilled inasal-style) with rice sprinkled over with toasted garlic and a small portion of achara (pickled green papaya).
While it may look like a rather meager portion to most eaters, the amount of meat here is actually sizable. Plus, it was tender enough to slice through with the edge of a spoon. It was nicely seasoned: tangy and salty and smoky all at once, playing up the natural sweet savor of the pork. I also liked the fact that the fatty edges were good, crisp, and charred just right. Eaten with the garlicky rice and the sweet-sour pickles, it definitely made for a good meal.
But, wait: there’s more!
If you add P 25.00 to your meal, you get a small bowl of batchoy: that rich noodle soup cooked in an incredibly soulful pork broth and made sinful with pork cracklings, fatback bits, and diced pork heart and liver.
Inasal Joe’s small bowl of batchoy is actually deceptive: don’t let the size of the bowl fool you as it’s filled to the brim with noodles and good stuff and that rich broth. Definitely good value for an extra twenty-five bucks and it makes a hearty meal so much more satisfying.
Inasal Joe: 3rd Floor – RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue cor. Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati