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Balbi's Snack House

Posted by JayPee Saturday, July 17, 2010

Food memories during our childhood certainly have a special place in our hearts (and tastebuds too.) Given the chance revisiting these places would mean reliving these taste memories that form a good part of our childhood. And Balbi's Snackshop along Valeria Street is certainly among these food places that our hearts would certainly long for. But in my case Balbi's, was just a recent discovery. If not for my blog, I wouldn't have discovered it , even if it was just along one of the streets I frequent passing by. There' s a so called "trinity" of the great eats at Balbi's and I've tried them all since then.First and foremost if their Pancit Palabok. A tasty concoction of shrimp sauce over pancit bihon and topped with chicharon and tinapa. Many swear it's the best in town and with la ittle reservation, I agree. A plate costs around PhP70, quite pricey for Iloilo standards for a pancit but you certainly won't regret it.
Then there's their dinugu-an. Balbi's makes use of lean pork and no innards plus the blood s filtered and cured before cooking to ensure utmost quality. Thus explains the price of a single small serving is also around PhP70. But it's more than worth it especially if paired with puto manapla.
And lastly, their two best selling breads, ensaymada and cheeseroll. These treats are both very much affordable and certainly worth more than it's price. Very soft bread with butter and sugar toppings with the cheese roll having a slice of cheese at the certain. You'll certainly want more after finishing these two. Good thing both cost less than 15 pesos each.
Balbi's also served other dishes like binagoongan and bistek tagalog - to namae a few of their best sellers. And they also have other breads and baked goodies cheese pimiento sandwich, biscocho, siopao, chicken pie and burgers. What interest me more is their toasted ensaymada and cheeseroll.

Anyway here' a good feature about Balbi's that narrates how it began and how it's coping up with the future.

Revisiting Balbis
By Marie Katherine Villalon
Friday, November 24, 2006

According to its manager, Ador Apuan, Balbis officially opened its store in 1960 but as early as 1958, they were already cooking for people. "It was not palabok at first. They were serving dishes like Arroz Valenciana, Chicken Galantina, ensaymada and cheese roll. That's when they decided to open the store," Apuan said.

Its first location was in the St. Elizabeth Bowling Alley, behind the residence of Monsignore Cuenco, in front of St. Paul's Hospital in Gen. Luna Street. After the bishop's palace was bought by the Rosaleses, the bowling alley was moved to St. Elizabeth Center in Valeria Street, where Balbis is now located.

It is owned by Balbina Zaldarriaga, whose photo with Apuan is presently hung at the restaurant. Apuan is married to Marisa Montelibano, grand daughter of Zaldarriaga. Apuan has vast experience in the food business, making him the likely candidate in managing Balbis when he went home from the United States two years ago. "I was the manager of Almon Marina, a specialty shop in Manila that was converted into a sandwich bar. When I went to the United States and worked as a paralegal there, I wanted to go back to the food business. So I enrolled in a culinary school, the Orange County School of Culinary Arts. It took me almost two years to finish there. I was going to school in the evenings," he said.

A year after he went home to the Philippines, Apuan decided to manage Balbis. "Earlier than that, I planned to open a restaurant. I studied the market here and realized that many restaurants opened but closed after several years. So, I said, 'why start with something that has no name?' Balbis has a name already," he said.

Under Apuan's management, Balbis has expanded its food offerings. The palabok, dinuguan, ensaymada and cheese rolls are still the best-sellers. "Our dinuguan makes use of lean pork and we don't use organ meat. We also use quality blood, which we filter and cure before cooking."Balbis's cheese roll and ensaymada make use of butter and sugar. "They have the same consistency though the cheese roll is softer and smaller. We also have butter toast, garlic toast, which is a good match to palabok, cheese pimiento sandwich, biscocho, siopao, chicken pie and puto.

Balbis is now air-conditioned and the dining area is wider after it underwent renovation in August this year. Its peak hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at 4 p.m. until closing time, 6 p.m.

Apuan revealed that Balbis will soon have another branch in an area that is accessible to more people, especially to students. When asked if he plans to open more branches like any other food chain, he said, "I just want maybe another one. My idea is that the people that know Balbis, one by one, have gone abroad. The younger generation does not know about us because we are no visible from the street. It's about time that we should be seen. I don't have any intention to open many branches. One or two would be enough." Read more at SunsStar Iloilo

More Balbi's on Flavours of Iloilo.


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