It was a rainy morning and the day was turning into one of those dull, uninteresting moments. My students were creepingly behaved and I’ve got no one to shush. And then I realized I needed something to accomplish, the perfect gift for my buddy. And then suddenly, the day went perfectly as I plotted the birthday surprise trip I wish I was receiving.
I didn’t need to plan about this trip. All I really wanna do was to savor each and every munch of my favorite pancit dish in the world (pancit batil patong - if you still don’t know). So I immediately booked a bus ticket going to Tuguegarao (647 pesos each) and told my buddy that we’re off to a happy place.
After looking out for a nice hotel in downtown Tuguegarao, we started scouring the streets to check out some panciterias that serve pancit batil patong – the legit way.
We hurriedly went out of the hotel after settling in and looked for the famous panciteria in town, the Jomar’s Panciteria along Gomez Street (near the Sts. Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral). We easily found the place and it was packed with locals who were savoring their pancits; I drooled instantly as if I was watching them from a TV.
We checked out their serving sizes and decided to get the Super Special (70 pesos). After a few minutes, the huge serving of pancit batil patong was served and I let the steam cover my face as I savor it.
The place is somewhat self-service, that is, you get your own condiments and toppings, as hefty as you want. I got to chop my own onions and drenched it in soy sauce. The standard batil or egg soup was also at hand (and free-flowing). I couldn’t be much happier at the sight of it all. I was too happy (trying to hush myself and remembering that it’s my buddy’s birthday not mine).
And we weren’t disappointed. The perfect balance of the freshly-made egg noodles and the sauce was just too perfect. The carabeef wasn't overpowering the whole dish and the crispy lechon kawali on top with crushed pork chicharon added the right amount of texture.
The onion-calamansi-soy sauce concoction can intensify the taste; others munch on it as if it’s the main dish. I love how engaged people are in creating their perfect pancit experience. It makes you feel that you contributed a huge deal in the whole process.
|Super Special - 70 pesos|
Jomar’s Panciteria became our instant favorite and we went back for more during those three days.
|batil / egg soup|
The next day, we wanted to try some legit carabeef tapa and longganisa from Tuguegarao for breakfast (to complement the pancit batil patong – way too heavy for breakfast, I know).
Our cravings brought us to Dim’s Resto along Blumentritt Street that became our breakfast place for two days. Tapsilog (carabeef tapa, fried rice and fried egg) plus Longsilog (Tuguegarao longganisa, fried rice and fried egg) were the staples at 70 pesos each. We also had an order of pancit batil patong (Super – 70 pesos).
Serving time was average and their Tapsilog meal was the winner hands down. The carabeef tapa was tender coupled with vinegar-chili dipping sauce, ugh, heaven!
|Carabeef Tapsilog meal - 70 pesos|
The Tuguegarao longganisa was just okay; we wished it to be slightly charred and burnt. The pancit batil patong was a failure. The carabeef and pork liver toppings were totally overpowering the whole dish. It was maanggo and game-y. We didn’t finish it at all.
|Tuguegarao longsilog meal - 70 pesos|
|Super size - 70 pesos|
Moving on, after catching the sunset at Buntun Bridge, we headed straight at its end (Tuguegarao side) and checked out the panciteria that was packed.
Jasmine-Jomar’s Panciteria is a sister establishment of our favorite Jomar’s Panciteria. Sitting at the foot of the famous Buntun Bridge along Buntun Highway, this roadside panciteria is usually frequented by travelers and passers-by.
We had a hard time queuing for a table and upon getting one we ordered their Special size (70 pesos). Again, on my own, I crafted the perfect onion-calamansi-soy sauce mix and waited until our pancit batil patong was served.
And it was great, reminiscent of what we had at Jomar’s but the lechon kawali bits here were quite overwhelming. My buddy was so happy with his crunch-fix.
|Special size - 70 pesos|
And as if we’re not full and satisfied yet, we waited for this panciteria hawker stall that we chanced upon a few years back. This stall only opens during nighttime and we couldn’t remember what the name was (if it does have) and its exact location. But it reminds me of mee goreng hawker stalls in Kuala Lumpur.
We combed the streets at around nine in the evening and while at Luna Street, we saw some tables and chairs on the sidewalk and felt our hearts racing. It was that hawker, it was that stall, it’s déjà vu.
We queued for a seat and immediately settled after some locals finished their pancit-fix that night. There’s only one serving size of pancit batil patong (50 pesos each) and we quickly ordered two.
We’re lucky enough to get a seat near the cook. He immediately prepared the hot pan and started to stir fry the noodles and other stuff. I could literally savor the aroma of the pancit from our table. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked and the batil soup followed next. It was a show, the perfect pancit batil patong spectacle.
|The only size - 50 pesos|
Our freshly-made pancits were served and there’s nothing more to do but munch on every bit of it. It was different from what Jomar’s Panciteria offers. It was crude yet totally yummy, the same taste we remembered as before.
My buddy couldn’t resist the urge and finally went to the cooking station and acknowledge the husband-wife tandem for a job well done. Apparently, they’ve been doing their thing for eighteen years now and the business is still strong. College diplomas were produced because of this unassuming panciteria. They open every night (around 8 to 9 in the evening) until the stuff are all consumed. Every night. At Luna Street. Gritty.
|Proof of love...|
So there you go, that was me and my buddy in our favorite happy foodie place. We both gained 20 pounds after the trip but who cares? When in Tuguegarao you eat pancit, sleep, drink and repeat.