|Geno's Ice Cream|
|Baby Back Ribs of The Beanery|
T A S T I N G
B A T A A N
There's a lot of bravery going on in Bataan. From its poignant World War II past to its various adventure sites, dauntlessness is palpable at the brim of the provincial cup. It's inevitable to drink of its interests and never run out of supply. Even anything edible is seized in fearless pursuit.
"I Love Bataan!" Blog Series Tour, I managed to discover a side of the peninsula that I was not able to see two years ago. I had a memorable dining experience at a restaurant that has managed to substitute tamarind with the midrib and veins of the locally abundant leaves of ayo for sinigang. For desserts, I sampled a neighborhood ice cream that persists to be produced sans the use of commercial vegetable oil.
There's more to taste in blissful Bataan as I have listed in this compilation:
|The Beanery interiors|
|Amanda's Marine Products|
|Bataan Tourism Center products|
Amanda's Marine Products
While checked in at my hotel base, The Plaza Hotel-Balanga, in the provincial capital, I had a smoky tilapia for breakfast. My plate of which came freshly hauled from Puerto Rivas Ibaba, Balanga City's coastal barangay.
I would later on visit in the same area the headquarters of Amanda's Marine Products, a leading Bataan-based company that manufactures and exports sauteed shrimp paste, fish sauce, salted anchovies, dried and smoked fish. It was there where I learned that most bottled seafood in Metro Manila groceries and posh restaurants are actually sourced from the province. I had the chance to bring home some of Amanda's products but they did not last long as they were fully consumed with delight even before the week ended.
|Jello Freeze by The Beanery|
If Metro Manila and key cities in some provinces have Starbucks, Bataan has The Beanery, a neighborhood coffee shop that has recently grown to three branches in the peninsula with two in Balanga City and one in Orani that opened in 2012. Famous among locals, the coffee hub is now considered a watering hole for techies, flavored drink lovers, and fresh brew aficionados.
During my tour of the province, I had the chance to dine at the hip restaurant with Bataan Tourism officials over bestsellers of Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Cheese Bacon Sandwich, Baby Back Ribs, Cordon Bleu, Spaghetti Bolognese, Lasagna and Baked Macaroni. For desserts, we took to reckless abandon over slices of Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Almond, and The Beanery's Signature Chocolate Cake. I drowned down everything with a large cup of soothing Jello Freeze!
|Ham & Cheese Sandwich by The Beanery|
|Cake slices by The Beanery|
|Pinakbet, Joyous Tangway Grill version|
|Sinigang Na Manok Sa Ayo, Joyous Tangway Grill version|
The first thing that appealed to me was the cozy interiors that made me feel at home right away. I delighted with its mood lighting which is normally dim at night, making the space appear sophisticated. And this came as no surprise to me since I know the owner to be young and hip himself. The familyman behind this chain of restaurant started off disgruntled with his young professional career until he pushed himself further to be his own boss with a few associates via the first branch. I was fortunate to have dined that night with his father who narrated his son's story of struggle. Truly, the resulting success is reflective of Bataan's heritage in not giving up without a good fight.
|With Joyous Tangway Grill owner Mr. Valdecanas|
While visiting the Surrender Memorial at the same site of the Bataan WWII Museum, I met museum committee member Mr. Celso Valdecanas who's also a former Balanga City mayor and owner of the province's famous Joyous Tangway Grill.
It was at Joyous Tangway Grill where I had lunch on the second day of my tour of the province. With my assigned tour guide, tour car driver, and a fellow travel blogger that I tagged along, I enjoyed for the first time the restaurant's pride called Sinigang Na Manok (chicken) Sa Ayo (an alternative to using tamarind). I normally have to be chided to taste something new (at least to me), but I let loose my tongue that day and took a quick sip of its sour broth that I feared would temporarily kill my love of traditional sinigang. After the first attempt, however, I surrendered to Bataan's version with full gusto! The distinctive sweet and sour taste created by the leaves of the ayo plant was the highlight of my lunch. Along with this runaway winner were other local favorites of Sisig Na Bangus and Grilled Liempo. I finished off the delicious lunch with a sampling of the tasty Ilokano-favorite called Pakbet or Pinakbet which was clearly a Tagalog version because it was swimming in shrimp paste.
|Pork Liempo, Joyous Tangway Grill version|
|Geno's Ice Cream headquarters|
|With Geno's Ice Cream owner|
Geno's Ice Cream
For desserts, I headed to the Balanga City Public Market where, right next to it, stands an unpretentious storehouse of some kind. What appeared at first glance as a cheap sari-sari store was actually the city headquarters and production house of the local frozen delight called Geno's Ice Cream.
Named after the owner's nephew, Geno's Ice Cream fooled me at the onset. I was not at all impressed with how the store facade looked, but my preconceived notions changed when I sampled its Buko Pandan Keso and Gabi Pinipig Keso flavors. Both were indulgent in the use of cheese and other flavor-noted ingredients.
I learned from the owner that he doesn't permit the use of preservatives on his ice cream unlike what other giant brands are doing. It also does not mix commercial vegetable oil in its flavors to make the texture soft. As a result, Geno's frozen delights are devoid of the yellow liquid that's high in saturated fat and a known cause of cardiovascular problems.
ABS-CBN celebrities like Kris Aquino and Aiai de las Alas are known to order from this ice cream brand in Bataan. Locals who have grown liking this dessert and who have long migrated to Metro Manila and other provinces still return to Balanga City or Orani just to order gallons of it.
|Galing Bataan Products at the Bataan Tourism Center|
|Baked Macaroni by The Beanery|
Galing Bataan Products
I also made it a point to drop by the Bataan Tourism Center where some of the other edible products produced in the province are housed for display. Conceptualized in 2005 by the Provincial Government, Galing Bataan Products are known to be globally competitive and bearing the seal of excellence. I took home a bag full of samples to share with loved ones back in Metro Manila which made them rediscover the province in a tasty way.
Official Facebook fan page
Address: Villa Carolina Subdivision, Puerto Rivas, Balanga City, Bataan, Philippines 2100
Phone: 0917-576-1456 or (63) (047) 237-1154 or (63) (047)237-7359
Official Facebook fan page
Address: Capitol Drive, San Jose, Balanga City, Bataan, Philippines 2001
Phone: 0917-587-2350 or (63) (047) 237-9216
Geno's Ice Cream
Official Facebook fan page
Address: #5 Arellano St. Bayan Orani, Bataan, 2112 Orani, Bataan Philippines 2001 and at the Balanga City Public Market
Phone: (63) (047) 431-1222 (Orani Branch) and (63) (047) 791-1934 (Balanga City Branch)
Address: Capitol Road, San Jose, Balanga City, Bataan, Philippines 2100
Phone: (63) (047) 237-2849/ 791-3313
Bataan Tourism Center
Address: City of Balanga Tourism Office, Roman Highway, Balanga City, Bataan, Philippines 2001
Phone: (63) (047) 791-4008
There are more to see in Bataan:
Read about the many attractions in Bataan here.
Read about The Plaza Hotel-Balanga here.
Read about the Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga here.
Read about the Bagac Friendship Tower here.
Read about the heritage-inspired resortLas Casas Filipinas de Acuzar here.
Special thanks to the Bataan Tourism Office for providing assistance to my Blog Series Tour of the province
|Sisig Na Bangus, Joyous Tangway Grill version|