Buro or Pickles

Batangas has not forgotten the art of making buro or pickles, and many markets still sell these in large containers.

Batangas lomi

Batangas lomi, invented in Lipa City, is notable for the absence of vegetables and its thick delicious broth.


Buchi-buchi, a traditional Filipino snack, is still sold in many markets around Batangas.


Those of younger generations will probably say banana cue, but there are those in Batangas who still refer thos favorite as sundot-saging.


Called bilo-bilo or paridusdos elsewhere, Batangas' pinindot is frequently just plain rice balls sometimes with bits of sweet potato or nangka.

New Restaurants Open this December at SM City Lipa

Japanese Pepper Lunch Steak is an amazing dish with sizzling tender sukiyaki beef, pepper, rice and a delicious amakuchi and karakuchi sauces that can be on your table in less than 30 minutes.

Three more restaurants were due to open this December at SM City Lipa, the mall’s administration announced recently by way of a press release. These restaurants provide mall visitors more dining options, particularly during the Christmas season when the mall like others in the country are abuzz with customers. Here are the new restaurants at SM City Lipa:

Yo Dawg in Lipa City: Changing the Food Scene While Eager to Please

There is this unpretentious food joint tucked away inside a village in Lipa City that has taken to heart the art of pleasing. Yo Dawg, a cosy little restaurant inside Villa Lourdes Subdivision just in front of De La Salle Lipa, is so named, the owners told Food Batangas, because it is an open invitation to dine.

A Bit of Wow in the Bulalo at Wow Bulalo

Food Batangas visited this homey little restaurant along MK Lina Street in Lipa City called Wow Bulalo for a taste of, you guessed it, the very bulalo after which the place has been named.

The bulalo served here is not your traditional Batangas bulalo which is basically just beef swimming in broth simmered for hours on end. Instead, it is more like the homey sort of bulalo that mother is rather wont to serve with bits of beans, cabbage and potatoes.

Of course, the bulalo is always judged by the taste of the broth. While here the broth does not have the oomph of that served by this famed roadside diner to the north of Batangas, we still have to agree that yes, it does have a bit of wow.

A feel of home dining at Wow Bulalo.

Two bahay kubos complete the homey ambience.

This is bulalo stripped of hubris and its very simplicity is what makes it delightful. Unlike that served in other joints where frightful grease floats at the top of the bowl, at Wow Bulalo the broth is refreshingly clear yet still surprisingly tasty.

The beef has been sliced thinly across in fair servings and is tender unlike in other bulalo joints where the meat can be coarse and chewy. The vegetable is fresh, crisp and complements rather than detracts from the taste of the broth.

A small bowl good for one person goes for PHP 120 while a large bowl good for as many as five goes for PHP 450. Those who wish to stay away from the uric acid may opt for other offerings such as the crispy pata, tilapia or sisig, among others.

We cannot, however, vouch for any of these as we really just went for the bulalo; and if just for this alone, we are happy to say that Wow Bulalo is definitely worth a visit.

Wow Bulalo's signage.  This diner is right across the Metro Lipa Water District main building.

It is certainly an attractive option for anyone pining for home-cooked traditional Filipino – if not particularly Batangueño – food but too lazy to actually do the cooking. There are even two bahay kubos to complete the homey ambience.

Wow bulalo opens as early as nine in the morning but those who may wish to go for supper will also be happy to know that the place serves beer and may also be the perfect place to unwind after work.

The place is easy to find since it is located right across the main building of the Metro Lipa Water District in Balintawak, Lipa City.

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Burgers to Die For at Chef Joms’ Burger Street in Batangas City and Lipa

Because burger joints are dime-a-dozen and can be found everywhere from dusty street corners to air-conditioned malls, we asked John Marvin Aldover, a.k.a. Chef Joms of Batangas City, what makes his burgers different from others.

He does not know, Chef Joms replied with refreshing candour. “What I know,” he added, “is that I have full confidence in the food that I serve to my customers.

Food Batangas caught up with Chef Joms at Burger Street Lipa, opened as recently as the 16th of September along the suddenly busy economic hub that is barangay Paninsingin and right in front of De La Salle Lipa’s new College of Business building.

The new restaurant was opened in partnership with former DLSL basketball varsity player John Patrick Oñate and the second owned by Chef Joms.

Chef Joms (left) and partner John Patrick Oñate.

Formerly Head Chef at Uncle Cheffy’s Restaurant in Lipa, Chef Joms was among the pioneers of the garage burger industry that has been en vogue for a while now in Batangas City. Behind this industry have been culinary arts practitioners who have been selling gourmet burgers in their own homes.

The name Burger Street, Chef Joms told us, was inspired by the fact that he literally had to sell burgers on the street in front of his home when he first started operations in July 2014. This was how the garage industry basically started; and sales were driven by word-of-mouth advertising by satisfied customers.

Burger Street in Alangilan. (Photo courtesy of Chef Joms.)

A year later and Chef Joms was able to open a restaurant in Alangilan, Batangas City. Operations at the Alangilan restaurant are bigger than those in Lipa, where the menu is limited to burgers, hotdogs and sausages.

How the new restaurant came to be was a story in itself. Chef Joms was asked by a prospective partner to prepare menus and recipes for a restaurant project. The project was suddenly cancelled, leaving him with menus and recipes he initially did not know what to do with.

But Chef Joms is nothing if not a passionate man; and took a leap of faith in opening a restaurant by himself. This passion is evident in the food offerings available at Burger Street; and may be the defining advantage Chef Joms says he does not know he has over competitors.

The menu is thematically and unashamedly contemporary American; but even the ubiquitous burger is given a new lease on life not only with raw passion but also with plenty of imagination and culinary savvy.

The Chef's Choice burger has a subtle bite.

We tried the Chef’s Choice, a Mexican-inspired burger with slices of japapeños and pico de gallo along with homemade bacon, cheese and chilli meat sauces and dressing. The burger is simple, elegant and packs a subtle bite as only the jalapeño can give; perfect, in other words, for diners who like a bit of flame in their mouths when they eat.

The other burger, called the Surf and Jurf, was the sheer embodiment of imagination. Tempura and calamari along with the sauces and picol de gallo blended seamlessly with the beef patty to create a burst of flavours inside the palate.

Both burgers are to die for; and served with fries and ice tea, each will seem like a steal at PHP 250.

Contemporary decor and furniture for American-inspired cuisine.

For the more budget conscious, the Classic Grilled Burger goes for only PHP 120, already served with fries and iced tea as are all other burgers. For those with long intestines, the Brgr Tower is available at PHP 300.

Those not into burgers may also wish to try the Texas Chilidog (PHP 150), Cheese Dog (PHP 120) or Smoked Sausage (PHP 200). Steaks are currently still not available in Lipa but are already being served in the Alangilan restaurant.

For those who wish to try out Burger Street, the Batangas City restaurant is in front of the Nissan Show Room in Alangilan. The Lipa restaurant, on the other hand, is at the second floor of the new ELN Building along Barangay Paninsingin in front of the DLSL College of Business Building.

Burger Street Lipa is at the second floor of the ELN Building.
The ELN Building in Paninsingin, Lipa City as seen from the road.

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Krispy Kreme Opens 65th Store at SM City Lipa in Batangas

Krispy Kreme, the international donut brand founded by Vernon Rudolph in North Carolina in 1937, has arrived in Batangas. Its 65th store in the Philippines opened on 14 August 2015 at the ground floor of the SM Lipa City Annex.

The company, which continues to be based in Winston-Salem in North Carolina, now has a presence in 25 countries worldwide. In Southeast Asia, the company has stores in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

In the Philippines, the rights to Krispy Kreme are owned by the Real American Donut Company, Inc., which is owned by the Max’s Group of companies. The flagship store opened in November 2006 at the Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City.

From there, the company branched out to various locations all around Metro Manila. Krispy Kreme also operates stores in Pampanga, Iloilo, Cebu, Bacolod, Rizal, Cavite, Zambales and Misamis Oriental.

Krispy Kreme PHL CEO Sharon Fuentebella with Batangas Vice-Governor Mark Leviste.

Cutting the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the Lipa store.

The SM Lipa store is the first in Batangas and opened with simple ceremonies graced by Sharon Fuentebella, the CEO of Krispy Kreme in the Philippines, and Vice-Governor Mark Leviste of the Province of Batangas.

Also present were guests from the local and national media, local bloggers and personalities from various sectors and industries in Lipa City and the Province of Batangas.

Among the highlights of the opening ceremonies was the awarding of the Golden Tickets to those in the public who participated in the traditional overnight camp out prior to the opening of a store.

Present were guests from various sectors in the city.  Above, Malou Malaluan and Cathy Perez of DLSL.

Awarding the Golden Tickets to the overnight camp out winners.

The first in line won a Golden Ticket that entitled him to an entire year’s supply of the original glazed donut along with the company’s signature coffee. The second in line won half a year’s supply of the same, while the third in line won three month’s worth.

All others up to the 100th participant were entitled to a month’s supply of the glazed donuts. All these participants needed to do was to line up, show their Krispy Kreme mobile app and purchase a dozen donuts.

Excited customers began lining up at the counter once the opening ceremonies were concluded.

“Krispy Kreme is very excited to share the Joy in a Box experience to the community of Lipa. We invite them to enjoy their Joy in a Box with their friends and loved ones,” said the Marketing Manager for Krispy Kreme in the Philippines.

Those interested to know more may visit the Krispy Kreme (Philippines) web site. The company also has a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Tornado Peri Peri Chicken Hits Lipa City Palates with New Restaurant

Peri peri is a traditional African spicy marinade recipe for chicken popular not only in the continent but also in neighbouring Europe. It has already been introduced into the country by a few high end restaurants in Metro Manila, but an enterprising young television talent by the name of Arianne Bautista has brought the peri peri chicken to a wider audience by way of a small chain of affordable restaurants specialising in the recipe.

The idea was to devise a method by which the peri peri chicken could quickly be served to the diner despite the four hours needed for marinating, baking and grilling. Hence, the name Tornado Peri Peri Chicken.

While the name peri peri, derived from a Swahili word that means ‘chili pepper,’ suggests that the chicken done the traditional way ought to be hot and spicy, Tornado Peri Peri Chicken has tempered down the recipe to be more suitable to the average Filipino palate.

Now the company has opened its fifth restaurant in Lipa, Batangas, the first outside of Metro Manila courtesy of a group of De La Salle Lipa graduate school students.

Wendy Cueto-Bautista, spokesperson for the group, told Food Batangas that the group was inspired by company visits required of a Production and Operations Management class to go into business.

The Peri-Peri Chicken side by side with the baby back ribs.
How about chicken wings and mashed potato?

The classmates formally incorporated themselves into a company and their first venture was to gain rights to bring Tornado Peri Peri Chicken to Lipa City. The fledgling company also has exclusive rights to open other branches of the restaurant elsewhere in the province of Batangas.

The Lipa restaurant is located at the rear of the Big Ben commercial complex, which is being developed into a community and restaurant hub away from the hustle and bustle of the big malls. The area has a cosy, welcoming and laid back ambience especially in the evening when the lights come on and customers can dine and hang out al fresco.

The restaurant opened to the public in the evening of 31 July 2015. Although the initial marketing was conducted only over social media, the response was standing room only and sales were twice the target set for opening day.

The restaurant's air-conditioned section.

The main attraction, of course, is the peri peri chicken, served with the customer’s choice of sauce and side dishes. By itself, the chicken is already perfectly cooked, tender and tasty from the secret formula of the marinade. The sauce, however, makes the flavours explode in one’s palate even more.

Those with an aversion for spiciness need only ask for the original sauce. Those with more daring, however, can ask for the Tiger’s Fury sauce. For those looking for a slow but steady glow in the palate, the sauce to go for is the Dragon’s Breath, appropriately named as Food Batangas can attest.

For side dishes, the customer can choose from aromatic rice, corn cob with butter, mixed vegetables, grilled pumpkins, mashed potato, French fries, macaroni salad and fruit cocktails.

An order of ¼ chicken with one side dish plus rice can be had for as low as PHP 125. On the other hand, ½ chicken with two side dishes goes for PHP 240. One whole chicken with four side dishes goes for PHP 430.

The back of Big Ben is being developed into a laid back community hub.

Although the restaurant’s menu highlights a recipe of African origin, it also offers a fusion of other more familiar western favourites. A quick look at the menu shows that one can also avail of baby back ribs, T-bone and Porterhouse steaks, burgers, chicken wings, fries and shakes, among others.

The Lipa restaurant is also the only branch of Tornado Peri Peri Chicken which serves alcoholic beverages. Orders of beer and Smirnoff Mule, however, are limited per diner to ensure that other diners are not disturbed by drunken behaviour.

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Ibaan’s Baking Girls and Their Sweet Bears

Gina Cayetano of the Municipality of Ibaan is not your typical middle-aged mother and grandmother. For starters, she is lovely and youthful in her looks, something that seemingly belies the fact that she has four grownup daughters and grandchildren.

At daytime five days of the week, she is a school principal. After hours, apart from attending to her duties as mother and grandmother, she indulges a personal passion for food and baking that she says she inherited from her grandparents, who used to own a restaurant.

Like the proverbial supermom, she still has the energy left after seeing to her duties at school to open and manage with her daughters a snack bar in Lipa City called the Sweet Bears. The shop, so named after the Goldilocks fairy tale bears’ penchant for sweets, is along the highway in Paninsingin right in front of De La Salle Lipa’s Mabini Building.

Gina Cayetano (left) with her youngest daughter Giselle.

Although the shop is open to walk-in customers and offers pasta, milk shakes and ice cream, it also serves as the face for a burgeoning made-to-order cake business. Customers can walk in to place and collect orders or pick up orders earlier made online.

In fact, it was an online cupcakes and fondant cakes business called Pink Sweets, started three years ago by Gina’s daughter Clarence, that Sweet Bears can trace its roots back to. Giselle, the youngest daughter, picked up the cue from Clarence and started her own online business called Purple Sweets. Beyond cakes, Giselle has diversified and also sells homemade pasta and lasagne.

Pink Sweets’ market was originally just Tanauan City where Clarence was based; while Purple Sweets operated from the Cayetano home in Ibaan. As both businesses started to grow, the family decided to open Sweet Bears as recently as April 2015; and on Easter Sunday at that, if ever an inaugural date was always bound to be so fortuitous.

The two other daughters also actively pitch in. Frances, the eldest and at her young age already a survivor of open-heart surgery, is the artist who designs many of Sweet Bear’s products. Marian, the second daughter, is a nutritionist employed by a large multinational food corporation but assists in the marketing of the family’s products.

These products are painstakingly and lovingly crafted and baked. Gina, for one, says that she does not think of designing and baking cakes as a job but instead as a passion; and can stay up all night working like an artist at her craft during times when orders pile up one after the other.

Sweet Bears occasionally partners with caterers to set up candy or dessert buffets.
Sweet Bears' cakes are colorful and can be made-to-order.

As a business philosophy, the family ensures that all products sold at Sweet Bears are all freshly baked or cooked. While fondant cake businesses have become dime-a-dozen these days, Frances says that they all try to stay ahead of the competition by ensuring that the cakes that they sell are of the highest quality in terms of taste and freshness.

It is, therefore, hardly any surprise that this family business’ reputation has already transcended the originally established markets of both Pink Sweets and Purple Sweets. Customers have come from as far west as Calatagan here in the Province of Batangas and as far north outside the province as Bulacan.

It is also not uncommon, Giselle says, for expatriate Filipinos to place orders online for products that they ask to be delivered to their relatives or friends in the Philippines. There are also those who purchase products at Sweet Bears to take along as presents when they fly out to the countries where they are presently based.

Gina Cayetano shows off one of her own creations.

She also says that cupcakes, moist chocolate and red velvet cakes are their basic products; but they also bake carrot, vanilla and banana cakes upon customers’ requests. They can also prepare dessert or candy buffets, depending on customers’ preferences. Customers can bring along custom designs or choose from a catalogue that Sweet Bears thoughtfully provides.

Majority of the cakes sold are for use in weddings, but Sweet Bear also does cakes for birthdays and other occasions such as Fathers’ or Mothers’ Day and graduations. Occasionally, the family also partners with caterers to provide cakes and desserts.

Of course, Sweet Bears is also a snack bar where people can lounge while having some pasta, cakes or ice cream. The shop also claims to be the first in Batangas to offer honeycomb ice cream, known elsewhere for its health benefits. Students, in particular, will have more reason to linger because wi-fi connection is available.

The food, needless to say, will always be the shop’s main attraction, cooked and baked as it is by Ibaan’s family of baking girls with the passion and commitment that those in the culinary industry know are as important as culinary skills for a food business to succeed.

For those who wish to inquire or place orders, Sweet Bears may be reached through its landline 63-43-7740461. Office hours are from 8am to 8pm Mondays to Saturdays.

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