Photo Essay: Iloilo Central Market

Freshly Grilled Chicken Inasal

Exploring Iloilo Central Market: A Photo Essay

They say that one of the best ways to get acquainted with a town’s food culture is to explore its local markets. Markets play a huge role in building relationships with people and food.

Iloilo Central Public Market by Rabosajr via Wikimedia cc
Iloilo Central Public Market by Rabosajr via Wikimedia cc

From market vendors yelling to catch the attention of their suki to shoppers haggling for a discount, these are just some of the daily situations that take place in your local markets. As you squeeze your way into a crowd of shoppers, you’ll notice a different kind of interaction. More than the vegetables, meats, seafood, condiments, and other foodstuffs sold by vendors, visiting a market is indeed a cultural experience.

On our fourth day in Iloilo, our host, Chef Tibong Jardeleza, brought us to the iconic Iloilo Central Public Market. It wasn’t my first time, but this was altogether a new experience to remember.

Every marketplace has its own story. For Iloilo Central Market, it’s colorful and historic. Did you know that this was the starting point of Ilonggo cuisine? Local Ilonggo recipes were based primarily on what was available in the market. The rest is history.

Cyrils Eatery
Cyrils Eatery
Inside Cyrils Eatery
Inside Cyrils Eatery

To begin the market tour, our first stop was Cyril’s Eatery. A tiny, hole-in-the-wall eatery located a few steps away from the market entrance. They have an open kitchen so you can easily smell the fragrant cooking that happens right next to your table.

It’s actually Chef Tibong’s favorite spot, so he ordered his favorites: fried porkchop, linaga or Nilagang Baka, bola-bola, and lechon paksiw. One dish that caught my attention is linaga, which reminded me of my favorite Camto soup from a Chinese restaurant in Binondo. Everyone in our group loved their fried porkchop, but lechon paksiw stood out for me.

Linaga Baka
Linaga Baka
Fried Pork Chop
Fried Pork Chop
Lechon Paksiw
Lechon Paksiw

If Quiapo has Excelente Ham, Iloilo has the Iloilo China Store. This stall sells locally-made sweet ham, as well as chorizo and other meat products.

Iloilo China Store
Iloilo China Store
Chinese Sweet Ham : Christmas Ham in Iloilo
Chinese Sweet Ham : Christmas Ham in Iloilo

In the middle of the wet market, you’ll find an area that was converted into a food court. You’ll find freshly grilled native chicken inasal, oysters, milkfish, and seafood here.

Fresy Oysters
Fresy Oysters
Grilled Bangus
Grilled Bangus
Grilled Hito
Grilled Hito
Grilled Native Chicken Inasal
Grilled Native Chicken Inasal

 

We had a long table all to ourselves and tried a variety of dishes from different stalls. For soup, we had chicken tinola and KBL (kadios, baboy, and langka). For our main dish, we had pangat na sapsap, tortang talong, chicken inasal, chicken isaw, grilled panga ng blue marlin, and tinolang halaan.

KBL
KBL
Tinolang Halaan
Tinolang Halaan
Tortang Talong
Tortang Talong
Grilled Blue Marlin
Grilled Blue Marlin
Freshly Grilled Chicken Inasal
Freshly Grilled Chicken Inasal

Our last stop was at Popoy’s Batchoy. Inside the Market is a small alley where you can find small restaurants and Batchoy shops.

Security Guard
Security Guard
Food Alley inside Iloilo Central Market
Food Alley inside Iloilo Central Market
Popoys La Paz Batchoy
Popoys La Paz Batchoy
Popoys Batchoy inside Iloilo Central Public Market
Popoys Batchoy inside Iloilo Central Public Market
Popoys Batchoy
Popoys Batchoy
Putong Bigas
Putong Bigas

It was such a sumptuous feast–one we didn’t expect from a local market. Everything was fresh and flavorful, and the experience was very satisfying. We’ll visit another day to sample other Ilonggo dishes!

Live Chicken for Sale
Live Chicken for Sale
Iloilo Chorizo
Iloilo Chorizo
Dried Fish
Dried Fish
Iloilo Ginamos
Iloilo Ginamos
Dried Fish Market Iloilo
Dried Fish Market Iloilo
Tia Modi Herbal Store in Iloilo Central Market
Tia Modi Herbal Store in Iloilo Central Market
Traditional Medicine
Traditional Medicine
Fruit Stand Iloilo Cental Public Market
Fruit Stand Iloilo Cental Public Market

During this trip, I realized that visiting local markets is such a great cultural experience. It allowed us to understand the local food landscape, meet the locals, and sample local dishes that are usually not available in fancy restaurants.

Here’s a tip: consider a quick trip to its local markets wherever you travel. It’s the best way to learn about their cuisine or, even better, shop for local products you won’t find anywhere else! If you love cooking, use this opportunity to take home ingredients you haven’t tried yet. Who knows, you can even whip up something new or try to cook a local recipe on your own.

Here’s to more foodie experiences on our next travels!

Iloilo Travel and Tour Packages

Check out our complete list of recommended Hotels and Resorts in Iloilo City, Philippines, via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.