My friends and I were supposed to spend the day visiting old buildings in Iloilo City, but Mother Nature had other plans. It started to rain around lunchtime, and since were near La Paz, we thought it would be perfect to warm ourselves with batchoy.
We asked our cab driver where locals went to get their batchoy fix, and while he rattled off three or four places, he concluded by saying that he liked Netongs the best. So off we went to the La Paz market to find Netongs Authentic Lapaz Batchoy.
There are three kinds of batchoy available, all of them built on the foundation of egg noodles, pork broth, and pork bits. I picked regular batchoy (no beef), but added an extra raw egg, because I like swirling it around and watching the ribbons cook in the hot broth.
Sated, we agreed that coffee would hit the spot, especially on a lovely rainy afternoon. A look online told us that we should check out Madge Cafe, and that it was nearby. We didn’t know that nearby meant inside the market, just a few steps away from Netongs, so that was a happy surprise.
The cafe opened in 1951 and has been a popular haunt ever since. The coffee is heated and strained through a sock-like sieve. There’s brown and white sugar on the table, some of them in old-fashioned canisters. Some of the mugs behind the counter have names on them so regular customers always have a mug to drink from.
Madge Cafe is an institution, its interiors harkening back to when it first opened. Even with the proliferation of restaurants and coffee shops in the city, Madge Cafe is still where people go to meet over a good cup of coffee.
The rain let up just as we finished our coffee break, so we got to continue exploring the gorgeous old mansions that dot Iloilo City. It’s nice that Netongs and Madge Cafe, two institutions, still stand, their popularity never waning. It speaks of a love for tradition, a respect for the old ways, and most importantly, a constant demand for a good, reasonably priced meal.