|Entrance to authentic Bicolano cuisine|
If you really want to really try the best of Bicol's distinct and spicy cuisine in Legaspi City, then Waway’s is the place to go. One of the city’s venerable and beloved restaurants and a household name and a landmark, Waway’s was established in 1967 and was named after the owner Laura Cristobal.
It is often recommended as a must-try for first-time visitors to the city. Once you do check it out, you'll immediately notice that the main theme of most of the meals they serve have coconut milk/cream and chili peppers, indeed typical of Bicolano cooking wherever you are in this Philippine region.
For those not used to but are willing to try this spicy fare, have glasses or bottles of milk (not water) to cool your tongue. A brilliant counterpoint to these coconut cream-based Bicolano foods is a marinade of calamansi and salt, an old -fashioned Filipino way of balancing saltiness and tartness.
|An array of Bicolano comfort food|
|Tempura-style kangkong, |
okra and eggplant
Waway’s has around 8-10 choices for viands, plus 6 choices of appetizers and side dishes. The authentic Bicolano comfort foods served are what our grandmothers would probably have brought, from the kitchen to the dining table except that they are offered turo-turo style.
Bicol Express, a Bicol specially and one of the big favorites in Waway's, is basically pork cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste and long, hot chilies.
If you want a refreshing break from all that spice, try the very good and perfect to the bite beef kare-kare, another favorite dish which is a stew with beef and a variety of vegetables complimented with a thick and savory peanut sauce.
Kandingga, the Bicolano version of bopis (usually diced pig lungs, spleen and heart sauteed in tomatoes, chilies and onions), has a sweetish, textural appeal and was seasoned just right, with no offal smell at all.
The very tasty pinangat, a famous and nutritious Bicolano vegetable dish more popularly known in Manila as laing, blends taro (gabi in Filipino and natong in Bicol) leaves, select spices such as crushed siling labuyo (chili); garlic and a bit of red ginger; tiny shrimp; chicken, salted pork, or dried fish; and coconut milk. It is known to have medicinal benefits since its ingredients are herbs and every serving is Vitamin A-rich.
The traditional list of hot and freshly made favorites also includes ginataang malunggay, pancit guisado, lechon kawali, sisig, chicharon bulaklak, grillled liempo (great when paired with grilled okra, eggplant, tomatoes, onions and bagoong), lumpia shanghai, igado, dory fish with tausi, langka, sweet and sour fish, ginataang manok, nilasing na hipon and more.
I loved their tempura-style kangkong, okra and eggplant for starters. Other appetizers included atcharang ampalaya, boiled eggplant with salted red egg and pork, etc. They also have a salad bar. For dessert, I built my own DIY halo-halo, complete with sweet beans, jello, fruits and ube. Other desserts served included bananas, watermelon, pineapple, buko pandan, etc. Alongside the drinks dispenser is the coffee vending machine.
|Dory fish with tausi|
There is no ala carte fare in this restaurant, just pure buffet. Compared with buffet standards in Manila, their price was cheap at only Php250/head, a very good deal indeed. The restaurant is big and has a lot of seating but do come around before 12 noon as the place fills up rather quickly. It is not especially fancy, but I didn't go there for the ambiance anyway. Today, Waway’s, still a family business, is one of the top 5 restaurants in Legazpi.
Waway’s Restaurant: Penaranda Extn. (National Highway), Bonot, Legazpi City, 4500, Albay. Tel: (052) 480 8415.
City Tourism Office: Legaspi City, 4500, Albay. Tel: (052) 480-2698 and (052) 820-1843. Website: www.legaspi.gov.ph.