Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feli-Citas' - Discovering Pancit Cabagan in Isabela

I had read quite a bit about this famous pancit so I was not about to miss the opportunity to try it on this year's annual Northern road trip.
I knew that it could be found in various towns in Isabela and all the way up to Tuguegarao, where there is a version of it called batil patung.
I also knew that Cabagan, from where it originates would not be on our route as we usually take the short cut from Santiago to Tuguegarao.
Good thing I asked about pancit cabagan at the Petron station in Santiago City. The owner, who was counting out mounds of cash looked a little alarmed when I barged into her office.
However, she graciously gave me directions to a not-to-be-missed place -- Feli-citas.
But you just missed it she said -- turn back and go five minutes down the road. Then, seeing my crestfallen face, she added that we would be passing one of its branches in Roxas, an hour's drive away and right along our route.
We almost missed Feli-Citas' Roxas branch!
I was looking earnestly for a stand alone restaurant but it turned out that it is part of a huge Total Gas Station, attached next to the convenience store.
The short menu of specialties was listed right on the food counter which also had some trays of home cooked food. There were slabs of very tempting lechon kawali but we were focused on finally sampling pancit cabagan.
The girl manning the counter said that batil patung was just pancit cabagan with a whole egg on top so I opted to try both versions.
The platters of pancit, generous for a single serving, came out from the kitchen, freshly made and very hot.
First glance showed that slices of lechon kawali were liberally sprinkled on top and both batil patung and pancit cabagan were very saucy, saucier than most other noodle dishes I had tried. It almost looked like lomi albeit, with thinner noodles.
We were even given a coffee cup of extra sauce!
While I didn't eat the lechon kawali on my pancit, each spoonful was redolent of the aroma and flavor of rendered pork lard. Very flavorful and rich but also very heavy on the stomach.
While I think the noodles are really miki , freshly made, the sauce was so overpowering you could not appreciate their springiness and chewiness.
We left Roxas and Feli-Citas with full tummies -- the pancit cabagan would last us through a couple of hours more to Piat and on to Tuguegarao!

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