In Naga City, Here’s Where To Get Your Bicol Food Fix—Chilies And Coconut Milk Included
Bicol is famed as the land of siling labuyo or wild chili and gata or coconut milk. If you’re visiting Naga City in the heart of the Bicol region, you’ll have more than your fill of traditional Bicolano dishes like pinangat (also called tinuktukan), laing, and Bicol Express, which all use chilies and coconut milk in some form or another.
Naga City is considered the center of business for Camarines Sur. While it generates less attention than Legazpi City, Naga boasts of charming homegrown dining places and history-rich places to visit. For first timers, there are lots of dining options to choose from, including such mainstays as Red Platter, Graceland, Soledad, Baba Dining of The Carmen Hotel, Café Plazuela of Avenue Hotel, Casa Soriano, Geewan and Ist Colonial Grill (home of the famous sili ice cream). But for those who want to dig a little deeper into the Naga food scene, here are my picks for enjoyable eats that showcase Bicol cooking in all its many forms.
Jimmy and Tang’s
2 Magsaysay Extension (Liboton), (0917) 580-2291
This is one of my favorite restaurants in Naga named after the couple who runs the place. The Pinangat and Laing are so good that I stash these dishes for my own enjoyment at home and personally recommend them to visiting friends.
On Sundays, the restaurant offers a lunch buffet showcasing Tang’s Bicolano and Pampanga roots. They serve familiar dishes as well as local favorites like Kinunot (flaked fish or stingray cooked with malunggay and coconut milk) and Tabagwang or small conical snails found in rice fields and cooked in coconut milk. Fun fact: this dish is sometimes called “Lips to Lips” as the only way to eat it is by sucking the flesh
Other buffet dishes include Filipino favorites like Lechon Kawali, Chicharon Bulaklak, Crispy Shrimps perfect for dipping in spicy vinegar sauce, Kare-Kare, Afritada or Mechado, Bopis, Lumpia, and a lot more. There is no set menu on Sundays as the couple only prepare dishes based on what the market offers that day. It is best to go there hungry as Tang is known to keep bringing out dishes for the guests to sample. The restaurant seats only 50 so it is best to call to reserve.
Chef Doy’s Magsaysay Avenue, Barangay Balatas, (054) 478-2519 One must not leave Naga without dining at Chef Doy’s, owned by Chef Doy Sto. Domingo who recently won gold at Klasika Kulinarya, National Food Showdown Competition 2018 (Professional Division Champion).
His restaurant serves Filipino and Bicolano dishes tweaked to appeal to a broader market. Some of the dishes to try include Cheesy Bicol Express, Natong (taro leaves) Spring Rolls, Tortang Sili or chili-pork omelette with special coconut dipping sauce, and Laing Embutido.
He also recently launched his own version of Paella Bicolana made with laing, seafood, pork, and quail eggs.
Bulusan Street, (054) 205-8830
The first time we ate in Krypton Grill, we sampled crocodile sisig and found it meatier than regular pork sisig. This restaurant offers other exotic meats—alligator, wild pig, goat, rabbit, and black chicken (called silkie chicken)—and serves Adobong Kambing for adventurous diners.
It is also a preferred place for boodle feasts with extra crispy Crispy Pata, Liempo, Bicol Express, Laing, and of course
Bob Marlin Restaurant and Grill
Magsaysay Avenue and Robinson’s Place Naga, (054) 473-1339
This homegrown favorite serves Bicolano and other Filipino dishes like Sisig, Crispy Pata, Barbeque, and Lechon Kawali. It’s also a good place to eat Laing, Pinangat, and even Dinuguang Baka.
Kare-Kare, Crispy Pata, and Bicol Express
Centro Square, Peñafrancia Avenue, (054) 225-4445
Low key and discreet, this place is right at the back of Centro Square along Peñafrancia Road. Must tries include the Garlic-Chili Crispy Pata (our favorite) and any of the Sili Shakes (vanilla, strawberry, chocolate milk shake with hints of labuyo or wild chili). The café also serves Salpicao, Baby Back Ribs, and that sinfully crunchy Chicharon Bulaklak as appetizer.
The Culinary Lounge by Chef Louise
San Fernando, (0922) 886-3032
For private dining with an internationally-trained chef, you can book this special place set in a farm in nearby San Fernando, CamSur.
Chef Louise Mabulo can customize a menu using all-natural ingredients like vegetables, spices and meats, whether for an intimate lunch or dinner for two or a feast for family and friends. You’ll have to reserve in advance as no walk-ins are allowed.
Chef Louise Mabulo
If you’re staying in town but want to order in, Naga City now has its very own food delivery app called Hungrily. Just download the app, select the restaurant and the preferred food order, then the rest is up to Hungrily to process, pick-up, and deliver. Easy!