I say that this bowl is â€œfor the braveâ€ because at this store, you can have all the chicharon, garlic, green onions and of course, soup, that you can possibly eat.
**Correction made. Ilonggos, yes. My apologies.
In Iloilo, batchoy soup is traditionally free. The Ilonggoâ€™s love for soup even dictates how they eat batchoy: they go for the soup first, usually finishing it, and then they ask for a second serving that they then eat with the batchoyâ€™s traditional accoutrements. Thereâ€™s a saying that â€œâ€¦kung hindi pumuti yung noodles, hindi tunay na batchoy iyan.â€ (!)
Iâ€™m told these anecdotes by the people whoâ€™ve opened Decoâ€™s Original La Paz Batchoy at the Alphaland Southgate Mall along Pasong Tamo. As I write this, another store has opened in Boracay. Decoâ€™s began in 1938 by a certain Federico â€œDecoâ€ Guillergan Sr. who some say pioneered the serving of meat stock soup (â€œbatchoyâ€ in Chinese) at his La Paz public market carinderia in Iloilo. Certain innovations since then have included the addition of meke (miki) noodles, guinamos (local shrimp paste), bone marrow, and garlic. Pork innards (intestines and liver) also made their way to what started out as bare-bones stock. The latest (some say the greatest) addition is the chicharon thatâ€™s harder, crispier than regular chicharon â€“ it dampens, doesnâ€™t dissolve in the soup.
Decoâ€™s 70 year old son, Nonoy, is the one who mans the now-national Decoâ€™s brand. Six branches in Iloilo will soon be dwarfed by the number of branches the company plans to open in Manila and beyond. A sister company of Mang Inasal, it may soon be possible to do whatâ€™s done at the Decoâ€™s branch at Southgate mall: start off oneâ€™s meal with batchoy and finish it off with chicken inasal and garlic rice.
Itâ€™s a combination thatâ€™s unmanageable, even for greedy me. Thatâ€™s because I order the Extra bowl (P77) with a fresh (or hard-boiled) egg (+P12). Also, batchoy becomes extra irresistible to me when accompanied by Manapla puto (P6.50/piece) and pandesal ni PAA (P4.50/piece). Pronounced PAH-ah, not pah-AH, the Tagalog pronunciation for â€œfoot,â€ itâ€™s named as such for the baker whom Deco ordered it from back in the day. This pandesal is the larger, softer one compared to the aptly-named and smaller pre-war pandesal (see photo above; P3.50/piece).
Decoâ€™s batchoy, unlike other soups of its kind, tastes very clean. Thereâ€™s none of that oily mouthfeel or aftertaste; and the fat doesnâ€™t harden (sebo) even when the soup is cold. Thatâ€™s attributed to the fact that the lean and fat meat are separated upon preparation. Decoâ€™s prides itself on this as well as the generous toppings, unlimited soup, crispy chicharon, and affordability (Special P67; the bigger bowl Super P75; and my choice Extra [even more toppings] P77). You can also, to a point, indicate what you donâ€™t want in your batchoy: an acquaintance tells me she has the pork innards omitted; another says he asks for so much soup a plate-liner has to be placed underneath to catch the spillage. However you want it done, this batchoy is deeply satisfying.
Another batchoy post:
batchoy at “21″
1/f Alphaland Southgate Mall corner of EDSA (northbound) and Pasong Tamo Extension.
PROMO ALERT! (Philippine residents only)
10 (ten) P100-Deco’s gift certificates are available to 5 lucky DCF readers. I’ll mail two GCs (that’s P200 worth)Â each to the FIRST 5 people who email me a picture of their favorite batchoy.
Include the following:
where the photo was taken + your name + (snail) mail address + daytime (preferably mobile#) contact number.
Batchoy photo was taken at 21 restaurant in Bacolod.
21 Somewhere St., Ortigas Ave cor J. Vargas., Metro Manila, Philippines
0917 – xxx xxxx
Promo ends Feb. 17, Wednesday, at 9:00am (or earlier depending on how fast those pictures come in).