One thing you'll notice when you make a trip to Lipa, Batangas is that there's a quiet buzz in the city. Public transportation taking people to and fro, bakeries opening shop at the crack of dawn, people in constant motion, the whole city is almost always sipping on a cup of strong Barako coffee. "Kapeng Barako is the lifeblood of the Batangueños. Umagang umaga palang, pag gising, Barako na yan. Lalo na sa bukid, yan ang pampa-gising nila," says chef Paul Poblador of Lima Park Hotel in Batangas.
It's a city, though, that isn't waiting for its moment. People are content enjoying what is-whether it's that first cup of coffee in the morning, freshly baked bread from the panaderia, or a bowl of hot goto from the street side eatery you can find in almost every corner. These are the same things you should try and enjoy on your next road trip to Lipa, Batangas.
Don't be surprised to receive a soupy dish when you order goto in Batangas. Batangas' version is not the same one you are likely to find in Metro Manila: it is a soupy bowl with beef and pork innards, with ginger, vinegar, and achuete giving it sour and earthy flavors. Papaitan is probably the closest dish you can compare it to. Shares chef Paul, "Dito, it's just all innards na parang niluto siyang parang papaitan na hindi mapait."
A bowl of lomi in Batangas is not just a serving of noodles when in Batangas. Generous toppings and ingredients make it comfort food at its finest: there's kikiam, pork belly, pork liver, meatballs, and chicharon (pork crackling). According to chef Paul, "Lipa is very famous for lomi, which has roots in the Chinese communities of old. Kikiam is one of the prime components of a real lomi. The miki noodles of lomi is [also] unique to Lipa City."
"Ang merienda natin sa Batangas, pandesal. Number one yan, madami talagang panaderia dito sa Batangas," adds chef Paul. One of the oldest bakeries in the country, Panaderia Pantoja, is in fact located in Tanuan, Batangas. Like Panaderia Pantoja, the bakeries that dot every corner in Lipa makes the same timeless pandesal, jacobina, paborita biscuits, and the sweet breads Batangueños like to snack on.
Lima Park Hotel in Lipa, Batangas has a Southern Luzon Food Trip menu. "The hotel offers this to the visitors and to our clients so they themselves can actually experience this culinary trip without leaving the premises. It's really an introduction to the regional food in the area," says chef Paul.
The menu includes popular dishes from neighboring cities and provinces: pancit habhab from Quezon, pot-roasted chicken (kinulob na manok) with a delicious savory cashew sauce made with cashews from Rizal.
The set menu also highlights comforting bulalo from Batangas, which is more popular in the Taal area in Batangas. Sinaing na tulingan, according to chef Paul, "is a Batangas favorite. Sinaing na tulingan is a dish made out of bullet tuna which is fished here in Batangas bay. Napaka-Batangueño niyan.
It is braised in salt, a little bit of pork fat, and kamias. [It is] braised for hours and hours until the bone is literally edible. Usually naka-palayok din siya. It's sold everywhere sa mga carinderia, sa mga kainan sa palengke, it's really the peasant food ng taga-Batangas." Eaten with a rice, Batangueños also pour piping hot Barako coffee over the rice. The bold flavors temper the umami and salty flavors of the fish dish and it is delicious.
Lima Park Hotel is at located at Lima Commercial Estate, Lipa, Batangas. For more information, visit Lima Park Hotel's website.