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By Rosseadelle Ganayo

With the sun lengthening the days onto the heat-wave struck city skyline, your thoughts might be drifting off towards leaving the city and traveling around the country, sampling and documenting the different cuisines you’ve been craving for. But the intense heat just doesn’t spark the wanderlust in every foodie – especially homebodies who prefer the convenience of ordering and eating in their air-conditioned homes and offices.

Don’t curb your cravings yet! For whatever reason you might be stuck in Manila, we’ve scoured the city and dug up the restaurants where you can get your home-cooked regional dish fix without having to travel too far from the reach of the aircon.

ILOCOS: Balai Ilocos

If you’re craving authenticity that goes beyond flavor, then traverse no further than Luzon’s famous food strip, BF Homes Parañaque and into the cozy homely ambiance of Balai Ilocos. Stepping through the door is reminiscent of entering an ancestral home in Ilocos – furnished with antiques and memorabilia, walls adorned with old photographs of the owners’ family generations.

Established in March 16, 2014, Mrs. Princess Aquino opened the restaurant to satiate Ilocano and Manileño’s cravings of the North in Manila. Enjoy authentic home-cooked Ilocano flavors in classics such as crisp and succulent Bagnet, rich Igado, creamy Dinakdakan with that sweet-tangy Sukang Ilocos, savory Pinakbet with the staple bagoong, and the distinct garlicky taste of Longganisa in nostalgia as this restaurant transports your senses to another time and place in one meal.

Address: 188 D Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City

Visit their Facebook page here.


LAGUNA: Rural Kitchen (of Liliw Laguna)

Truly a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a “hidden treasure” charm factor due to the fact that its Laguna tang stays hidden in plain sight right in Makati. The restaurant showcases heirloom recipes from Liliw, Laguna with such homey flavors that each dish gives back the vibrance to an otherwise monotonous life in the business district.

Have a seat and rest your eyes towards the painting on the wall of the owner’s ancestral home in the town of Liliw. Munch on the their warm and fresh complimentary Bonete bread, sourced all the way from Liliw served with dips such as Inalamangan Santol and Kamias. Escape the high-stress environment of the dull city life and get lost in the refreshingly tangy Pako Salad, the sweet and chewy Crispy Squid, the tender Paksiw na Pata, and in the smoky creaminess of Kulawong Talong – on your next lunch break, if you can.

104 Rada St., HRC Centre Legazpi Village, Makati City

Visit their Facebook page here.


BICOL: 1st Colonial Grill

Birthed as the result of a couple’s passion and immense love for Bicol, 1st Colonial Grill is a restaurant whose Manila branch should be put on your watch list as it opens its doors at NAIA terminal 3 sometime this year.

Known for serving sumptuous Bicolano fusion dishes without losing the authentic traditional flavors with ingredients sourced from Bicol itself, the restaurant now boasts six branches since they first launched on April 25, 2004. Find out why this restaurant has gained numerous awards and citations such as “Albay’s Best Seal of Excellence”, “Paborito ng Bayan Award”.

Sample their bestsellers like the Tinapa Fried Rice and Tinutungang Manok, a savory Bicolano chicken dish with toasted coconut milk, End your food tour with their “Bicol’s Kakaibang Ice Cream” line, with flavors like Pili and Gabi, or choose the thrill of challenging the infamous Sili Ice Cream with three levels of spicy that was featured in The Amazing Race Asia.

NAIA Terminal 3, Pasay City and Paranaque City


NEGROS: Sarsa Kitchen + Bar

Perfectly balancing the old and the new, Sarsa Kitchen + Bar has spread throughout the city and expanded its reach to bestow the wonderful classical flavors of Ilonggo and Negrense comfort food through the use of modern culinary practices to the metro. Thanks to the deft culinary skills of Chef JP Anglo, often overlooked or forgotten home flavors of his hometown Bacolod are sharing the spotlight and climbing the ranks of the industry alongside foreign or high-concept restaurants.

Get addicted to the familiar tastes and delight in the Instagram-worthy presentations of each dish such as the Inasal Skewers with their blistered skin and juicy meat that are flavorful on their own (But please still feel free to devour with sauces provided), the Special Batchoy whose extra indulgence comes from egg yolk, bone marrow, and thick-cut grilled liempo in a rich and complex ramen-like stock but with a (garlicky) Filipino touch. Chef Anglo says a visit is never complete without sampling the Sizzling Kansi – bulalo served sizzling and swimming in batwan gravy that will leave you buzzing with good vibes.

The Forum, 7th Avenue Corner Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Visit their Facebook page here.


MINDANAO: Palm Grill

Nestled in every night owl foodie and bar-hopper’s haven, Palm Grill offers much more than an inviting family restaurant vibe with its chicken centered décor and large glass windows. It offers its diners a taste of Mindanao within the bustling melting pot metropolis of Quezon City.

The restaurant is about celebration of culture and family as their menu consists mainly of chicken dishes, three of which are recipes from the owner’s clan and tribe, the Tausug, who hail from Jolo, Sulu. Feel the warm welcome of owner Miguel Moreno’s family as you bite into family recipes from his grandmother’s comforting Oswalda’s Fried, the grandfather’s infamous Olympus Roast, and the culmination of their province’s rich culture in the seven spices of their Green Chicken.

Be sure to try out Satti first, a signature dish close to every local in Mindanao; different from satay and sate, this local version flaunts its spicy peanut flavor as a soup wherein the skewered grilled chicken and puso (hanging rice) – and your entire being – would be dunked and immersed.

175 Tomas Morato Avenue Corner Scout Castor Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City

Visit their Facebook page here.

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