Should you ever find yourself in Legazpi, Albay

When we went to Bicol last summer to go swim with the whale sharks in Donsol and visit my mom’s hometown of Ligao, we also spent a a couple of days in Legazpi, the capital of Albay province. A couple of aunts, uncles and cousins live there, most of whom I haven’t seen in years. There was a family reunion of sorts and like every Filipino reunion, it was marked with a lot of eating.

For one dinner, an aunt and uncle took us to Sibid-Sibid, a casual dining spot with interiors inspired by the traditional Filipino bahay kubo. It’s popular among the locals and it took us a few minutes to get seated. It’s known for its great seafood dishes that are mostly cooked in the Bicolano style (for me, that’s with lots of coconut milk!).

Take for example Bicol Express,  a spicy pork stew made with coconut milk, green chilies and shrimp paste; theirs is a seafood version, replacing the pork with chunks of delicious tuna. My mom who often makes Bicol Express, loved it that you could tell she was already thinking of how to recreate it back home.

We also had the Sizzling Mixed Seafood (which seems to be one of the most popular dishes since it was in almost every table), Sinigang na Hipon (shrimp and vegetables cooked in a sour broth, usually tamarind), some grilled fish, native chicken cooked in (what else?) coconut milk, and lots of rice. It was a very satisfying meal; one I would gladly have again should I find myself back in Legazpi. I particularly loved the fish Bicol Express and the simple grilled fish. Good value for money too.

Tuna Bicol Express

Sibid-Sibid specialty: Sizzling Mixed Seafood, which has crab, squid, fish, shrimp and a few veggies thrown in

The sour (and comforting) broth of  Sinigang na Hipon complemented the rich, salty and spicy flavors of the other dishes

Simple and lovely grilled fish

Another day, after getting treated to the popular buffet lunch beside the Legazpi Airport (cheap at around P199), my cousins took us to DJC Halo-Halo.  Many folks from Legazpi, including my cousins, used to go to the neighboring town of Tiwi just to have the halo-halo of DJC. Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert, typically made of crushed ice, milk, sweetened saba bananas, ube (purple yam), leche flan, macapuno (coconut variety) and other sweet bits. The version of DJC is topped with ube ice cream and cheese.

DJC Halo-Halo

DJC earned such a huge following that the local snack bar eventually opened branches in Legazpi at Pacific Mall and in Naga. Though the photo above might look like a big mountain of crushed ice, the fillings are substantial–generous helping of sweet, creamy leche flan, of sticky sweet purple yam, of sweet shreds of macapuno and the unexpected but welcome saltiness of grated cheese. It’s really good halo-halo. Better than the ones from the popular fast food and resto chains. No wonder it has many devotees. And you get a big bowl for P85 (Halo-Halo Supreme).

Sibid-Sibid Food Park, Peñaranda St., Bonot, Legazpi City

DJC Halo-Halo, Pacific Mall, Legazpi City

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