Vunong Dinette: A Taste of Batanes

Tucked in the scenic road of Taytay, Basco is the home and restaurant of Jessica Salamagos, owner of Vunong Dinette.

Upon entering the place, you will be welcomed by a white-washed home with a garage turned mini restaurant adjacent to it, and a garden overlooking a farm inhabited with domesticated cows.

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Food is served in ‘Vunong’ style, a traditional Ivatan food catered in special occasions and to important people, and Vunong Dinette does not fail to let their customers feel it. A Vunong meal is wrapped and plated in a breadfruit leaf that consists of a generous serving of turmeric rice and four viands: beefsteak, fish, Luñiz, and uvud. A fresh, sweet catch of lobster, Paco salad, Nilaga, and a refreshing fruit shake is also served to cap off the meal.

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“Gusto ko talaga mag-serve ng local food. Ayaw ko naman na dadayo kayo dito tapos ang kakainin niyo lang ay yung katulad din ng meron kayo. [I really want to serve local food. I don’t want to serve what you already have in your place since you are traveling far just to get here],” shares Salamagos.

Batanes is rich in turmeric and has an endemic breadfruit tree, to which breadfruit leaves are then called ‘Kabaya’ when used as plates. The extracts of the leaf adds flavor to the already gustatory Vunong meal.

Interestingly, Luñiz is the Ivatan’s version of Adobo. The pigs used for Luñiz are preserved in a banga or jar for five years, which also serves as their food in preparation for the typhoon season.

Uvud, on the other hand, symbolizes the Ivatans’ resiliency. It is a ball of meat made out of a flying fish, an element found in a banana tree, and ground beef. As per Salamagos, the old Ivatans came up with this recipe back when they had nothing to eat because of the advent of typhoons, thus they maximized their resources and produced an Uvud out of their creative minds and as a coping mechanism.

The lobsters are undeniably fresh and have sweet juices, you would not even bother to get a handful of vinegar on the side. The Paco salad then balances out the heavy meal with its fresh vegetables tossed in sweet and sour vinaigrette.

A Vunong meal is reasonably priced for PHP 300 and is held by reservation only.

Vunong Dinette is located at Taytay Road, Barangay Kayhuvokan, Taytay, Basco, Batanes. For reservations, contact 0917 5221 258 or 0999 9919 447.

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Mikee Pascual

Mikee is a Filipino travel and lifestyle writer gradually shifting from a sedentary life to a nomadic one. On a personal note, she dreams of traveling to all 81 provinces of the Philippines and having her own travel book, hostel and restaurant someday.

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