Go On A Food Trip Around Isabela!

Time to take a trip to the north!

Echague, Isabela mayor and food entrepreneur Kiko Dy tells us what we need to feast on in the country’s second-largest province:

A hearty spread at Aling Luring's, including serkele, Isabela's version of dinuguan.
Photo by Lilen Uy
Mushroom empanada
Photo by Lilen Uy

What dishes are Isabela known for?

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We have 34 municipalities and three cities, and each one has its own specialty. Echague is popular for its cacao, raw honey, yogurt, milk candy, organic produce, canned kambing dishes, mango vinegar, liltuko (a fruit with snake-like skin, perfect for buro), longganisa, and the famous bibingka of Ipil. Cauayan is known for Aling Belen’s longganisa; mushroom empanadas; cassava rolls; Aling Luring’s serkele (which is a soupier take on dinuguan using ox offal), puto, kutsinta; and Cleto’s siopao.

When in Cabatuan, sample their moriecos (kakanin with latik filling); and when in the coastal towns, make sure to try the local fresh lobster and curacha. Of course, the famous pancit Cabagan is the star in Cabagan! It’s the only pancit you’ll come across that comes with its own dipping sauce. It’s a saucier take on the classic pancit canton, but with the added twist of a soy sauce dip.

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Pancit Cabagan
Photo by Lilen Uy
Aling Belen's longganisa
Photo by Lilen Uy

Isabela's must-visit restaurants:

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Try Mamma Mia in Echague. It’s helmed by an Italian engineer-turned-chef who married an Isabelino. He makes his own cheeses, sausages, and bread. Also make sure to head to Hazel’s Place to try their buttered chicken, crispy pata, and sisig. Finally, you shouldn’t leave Isabela without visiting one of the many kambingan stops along the side streets. Goat meat is a staple in Isabelino households, and it’s cooked in many different ways: kaldereta, kilawin, adobo, and sinampalukan.

A fresh catch of lobster
Photo by Lilen Uy

Homegrown dishes you shouldn't miss!

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Diningding (fish in clear soup); Isabela’s own version of tupig, which is a sweet rice cake wrapped in banana leaves; and Ilagan City’s binallay (a sticky rice cake eaten with latik) and inatata (a type of sweet suman).

What makes Isabela's food unique?

We make every dish our own—they’re mostly heirloom recipes that use indigenous ingredients found only in the province.

Feature was published in the September 2016 issue of Yummy magazine. 

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