After four days in Boracay, I’m convinced that there isn’t a single bad meal to be had here.
Doin’ the hula
Every restaurant that my family and I go to (10 adults, 3 kids) is a total hit. Hawaiian Bar-B-Que, which touts itself as “the best Bar-B-Que in (sic) the island” doesn’t disappoint. We like the Original variant the best with its sweet and sour glaze coating the fall-off-the-bone tender meat. The Fisherman’s Platter, a hodge podge of deep-fried seafood, is something we get for the apos, who love anything tempura-like.
Jonesing for Jonah’s
It’s unacceptable to me how I missed having a Jonah’s fruit shake the last time I was here in Boracay. So after working a sweat walking up and down the sandy stretch with my parents and sister, we cool our heels at Jonah’s. Though the shake selection is dizzying with fruit combinations that both amuse and bemuse (avocado-melon, anyone?), I zero in on what I like best ”“ a chocolate peanut banana shake, heavy on the peanut butter please. Cold and sweet and THICK, the arctic liquid courses down my throat and sends up an almost instantaneous brain freeze. Jonah’s shakes are available with or without milk and no, unless specified on the menu, there isn’t any ice cream in them. It only tastes that way. On a second trip to Jonah’s, I grab a shake for takeout and am taken by the water bottle-turned-tumbler that they use for their take-out orders. What an ingenious way of recycling!
Jonah’s Fruit Shakes
End of Station 1
Surrender to seafood
D’Talipapa way over at Station 3 is the place to have seafood. There are restaurants right along Station 2 where all the action is but you’ll pay twice the price. Very similar to the various Dampas around Manila, D’Talipapa absolutely boggles my brain not just for the seafood selection but more for the size of the seafood. I see a crab with claws so large I swear the darn thing lifted weights when it was alive. I’m transfixed by a 2.5 kilo lobster (P1,500/kilo) whose head is as large as a grown man’s arm. The oysters are so cheap ”“ four kilos for P100 and they’re perfectly cooked. Steamed just until they’re heated through, their brine explodes in our warm mouths. For a seafood feast like this, the simplest dipping sauce is the best ”“ just vinegar, soy sauce, calamansi, and sili. And of course, lots of hot rice and thick buko shakes to wash everything down.
Pig fat, plain and simple
For my Bin, no Boracay trip is complete without chowing down on a few choriburgers. Short for chorizo, these grilled snacks are sold in stalls hosting a whole panoply of other grilled delights. But what catches my attention among the usual suspects of isaw, hotdog, chorizo, et al., are large chunks of what appear to be fat. Fat chunks. When I ask the vendor what they are, she tells me (in Tagalog) that they’re “special” for the day. What are they? Fat of the pig, taba ng baboy. Oo-kay! Now I like fat, I do. I have an unhealthy, all-encompassing adoration for fat, but these match-box sized chunks of erm, fat, could pack in a heartburn unheard of in any other situation. Now, if they were deep-fried, however, that’d be another story.
Rock The Kasbah
The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” is drumming through the soundtrack of my mind as my family and I settle for dinner at Boracay’s own Kasbah, a Moroccan restaurant. The word kasbah, is Arabic for “fortress.” Having only opened last March, the interiors demonstrate much thought and authenticity from the lamps to the ashtrays to the tagines. The latter is a traditional Moroccan cooking utensil made of glazed earthenware, the conical lid of which creates an excellent seal to keep the food’s moisture and heat inside while baking.
The kemias (cold appetizers) include a plate of pitas and three dips: roasted and mashed aubergine (eggplant) and tomatoes, roasted and mashed red bell peppers and tomatoes, and of course, hummus.
A hot appetizer, meanwhile, are the briouats, filo pasties brimming with a feta cheese-minced beef filling served with harissa, a dip made primarily of deseeded red chilies, garlic, salt, and a host of spices such as cumin, coriander, and mint. The spices are blended to a paste and mixed with olive oil. So far, the starters are absolutely wonderful, exclamation points of flavor that punctuate our tongues. The Kasbah Chopped Salad refreshes the way only uncooked vegetables can. Cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers tumbleinto a creamy yogurt dressing with the fresh cilantro leaves providing a pleasing counterpoint.
The lamb tagine is perhaps the best tagine one can ever have in all of the Philippines, and I don’t mean that lightly. Cooked long and slow with prunes, almond, honey, and the lingering flavor of star anise, it’s a distinctive bouquet of sweet, wine-like undernotes, the mystery of spice, and the tenderness of lamb, all napped in an incredibly lush, rich sauce. My god. Though it overshadows it by far, we also enjoy the mixed platter brochettes, a skewer each of chicken, fish, prawn, and lamb.
I can’t say enough nice things about Kasbah. My family and I enjoy it there very much. Service is efficient and accommodating but there are a few things that do need attention. Senior citizens’ discount is only 5%, when law decrees that it should be 20%, and this restaurant doesn’t issue OR’s (official receipts).
Station 1, very near Discovery Shores
MaÃ±ana, not today
It irks me to no end that Boracay has a better Mexican restaurant than Manila does. MaÃ±ana is a hole in the wall place along Station 2 whose décor isn’t as kitschy as Zapata’s but whose food is just as good. The burritos platter is my favorite ”“ two soft tortillas filled just-”˜til-so with chicken and beef. Every plate comes with a dollop of mashed potatoes (?), sweet corn, and a fried tortilla wedge “wedged” into a small hill of mashed, refried beans. It’s food that satisfies the soul and makes even my Bin, who’s not a fan of Mexican food, sign in contentment.
Whatever I order, it’s the quartet of sauces that seals the deal. Little containers of chilled salsas ”“ red pepper, green pepper, shallots with oregano, and chipotle sauce — are made on the premises and exude imagination, not to mention indescribable deliciousness.
And their margaritas come in these blue-rimmed glasses that are large enough to swim in.