On our way home a few rainy weeks ago, we decided to get in out of the storm and have dinner at SM Bicutan. There are not too many options aside from fast food outlets in this mall but there is one unpretentious spot in the basement that serves reliably good comfort food.
It's a strange but revealing name -- Ted's Oldtimer Lapaz Batchoy tells it like it is. Yes, it's quite old, yes it's from Lapaz in Iloilo and yes, the specialty is that very simple, traditional Ilonggo noodle soup, batchoy. Just the perfect comfort food for a "dark and stormy night".
I prefer my batchoy with yellow egg noodles although Ted's also has thin, rice noodles or bihon.
We ordered the "special", which is a good sized serving.
Their batchoy broth is clear but the flavour runs deep. I presume like home made batchoy broth,
it is made of pork and or chicken bones, slow cooked over a low fire and seasoned with that very Visayan ingredient -- guinamos.
Guinamos is made with either anchovies, herring or other small fish that has been brined, aged and fermented. Authentic Ilonggo batchoy includes guinamos -- which adds a complex saltiness to the soup. It reminds me of the use of bonito flakes in dashi -- that quintessential ingredient in good Japanese soups.
What makes Ted's batchoy even more hearty is the generous addition of chopped chicharon or pork crackling and slices of pork meat and pork liver.
If all these ingredients are a bit much, order some puto or pandesal to help cut through the richness.
If you need a bit more sustenance than a bowl of fragrant steaming hot batchoy, Ted's has value meals that pair a mini bowl with viands like daing na bangus, grilled pork chop, even sisig and chicken, inasal or fried.
We enjoyed our unsophisticated, no frills dinner at Ted's. It was a straightforward, honest to goodness taste of Ilonggo cooking.