Iloilo has and always been one of the 2 favorite food destinations of the Pancit King – the other being Pampanga, where he can trace his roots. Being a big fan of the infamous La Paz Batchoy, he has been a regular patron of the big three – Netong’s, Deco’s and Ted’s not only when his travels bring him to the City of Love, but whenever it’s available – in Manila, Bacolod and even in Boracay.
On this trip though, the focus will be on the originals – their first stores in La Paz market. While a lot of blogs have previously been comparing “the big three”, I would like to focus on the different varieties of La Paz Batchoy available.
Personally, I do not think you can go wrong with any of these three brands as they contain all the hearty characteristics of this timeless Ilonggo comfort food – flavorful and rich tasting broth, choice cuts of meats – liver, intestines and lean meat, all sliced with big scissors, and generous toppings of chicharon, fried garlic and green onions. The prices averaging between Php.70-100 per serving is almost the same adjusting accordingly depending on the volume of noodles and toppings. They may also come with free refill of broth and may be partnered with pandesal (Php.10 for 2 pieces) or with puto (Manapla variety – plain white with a hint of pandan flavor) which is Php.20 for 4 pieces.
The original La Paz Batchoy make use of thin fresh miki noodles made daily and it has been a favorite of locals and tourists alike. In terms of variety; they have bihon, misua and sotanghon – all cooked in the same broth and garnished with the same toppings. On this trip, the Pancit King tried them out at Ted’s. Misua Batchoy make use of super thin white velvety wheat noodles which may even be consumed without chewing. Sotanghon Batchoy on the other hand makes use of noodles made of starch from mung beans also known as glass noodles – it has a bite that slips and slides easily. And finally Bihon Batchoy makes use of thin rice noodles more commonly used in pancit guisado.
On comparing the three, the Pancit King would prefer the Misua Batchoy as the noodles can easily absorb the flavorful broth. Its somewhat non-existent texture and shorter length would effortless mix with the soup in every mouthful. The experience is closely similar with my childhood memories in eating my mom’s Batchoy Tagalog which also makes use of misua but with pork tenderloin, liver and sometimes with a little cooked blood sauteed with lots of ginger (more on this on a future blog post).
Sotanghon Batchoy comes second rank in my preference as the noodles could easily be slurped with just enough bite to it. While it is a somewhat uncharacteristic batchoy experience for me, I can still digest the thought of sotanghon noodles with the La Paz broth as I’m familiar with sotanghon as a soup but with chicken, mushrooms and slices of hard boiled egg.
Last for my personal preference is the Bihon Batchoy. Since bihon is intertwined together even cooked, each spoonful will give you a huge clump of the noodles with only little room for toppings and broth rendering it a bland. Bihon, in my mind, is best eaten and cooked guisado style.
But of course the best variety of La Paz Batchoy is still the original – the one with miki or “mike” in Hiligaynon language. The freshly made thin egg noodles complements well with the broth and toppings as their combination is a close resemblance to another all-time Filipino comfort food – the mami.