Read about Iloilo’s most beloved noodle soup

9 months ago


Nothing beats a piping hot bowl of La Paz batchoy on a cold, rainy day. The ultimate comfort food, batchoy is a complete meal in itself. The soup has four definitive ingredients: meat, noodles, eggs, and chicharon.

The meat in batchoy is a combination of cuts of chicken, pork innards, and beef; these are the ingredients that make the broth so rich and flavorful. Ginamos (bagoong) and shrimp are also used to add extra flavor. As to the noodles, miki is traditionally used, although there are versions of batchoy made with bihon, sotanghon, and misua. The eggs provide a silky contrast to the heft of the meat and the noodles. The egg can be either cracked into the hot soup raw, stirred until it cooks and forms strands, or it can be cooked separately (almost always hard-boiled) and added to the soup. A generous sprinkling of chicharon is added as a final touch. Puto or pan de sal is often served on the side to balance out batchoy’s richness.

While everyone agrees that batchoy originates from La Paz, Iloilo, there is still debate as to who actually invented it. The two contenders are Federico “Deco” Guillergan Sr. of Deco’s Original La Paz Batchoy and Teodorico Lepura of Ted’s Oldtimer Batchoy. Both men made their name and fortune (and a decades-long rivalry) in the stalls of the La Paz Public Market, where their original counters still stand.

A butcher by trade, Deco was the first to put up his stall in 1938. Costing 10 centavos for a small bowl and 20 centavos for a big bowl of batchoy, his original recipe allegedly only had broth and meat. He added miki upon insistent requests from his Chinese customers, and that is how batchoy as we know it was born. He is also said to have invented the dish’s name, jokingly referring to his creation as “bats” (no one is sure why, although it may be because “ba” means “pork” in Chinese), adding “choy” only later.

On the other hand, Ted’s claims to have learned the recipe in the 1930s, before Deco put up his stall. He claims to have learned the recipe from a Chinese merchant whom he had worked for. It was in 1945 when Ted’s put up his own stall, selling his batchoy for 20 centavos per bowl. His version quickly became popular, and its popularity peaked when he started offering batchoy made with other types of noodles in the 1960s.

Today, business remains brisk for Ted’s and Deco’s, with both of them franchising their shops all over the Philippines.


Words by Janelle Año

Photographed by Mike Cuevas


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