My favorite noodle dish in the Philippines has always been Tuguegarao’s pancit batil patong. But I’ve always been curious about its kissing cousin, the pancit cabagan, an almost similar noodle cuisine found about an hour or so from Tuguegarao City, originating from a town whose name it came from.
|CABAGAN MIKI BEING SOLD AT THE MARKET|
Coming from another town in the province of Isabela where we visited the Tumauini Church, we decided to drop by the municipality of Cabagan before heading to Tuguegarao City. Our only purpose in doing so was to have a taste of its pancit. It can’t get more authentic than having my first taste of pancit cabagan at Cabagan itself.
|SPARSE INTERIOR OF EDDIE’S PANCITERA|
We have no idea where the best pancit cabagan was in town, so minutes before alighting from the bus, we quickly did a Google search. It didn’t get us far. We resorted to what old-school travelers do when confounded with such issues; we went to the public market and asked the first friendly-looking local we met. She pointed across the street, Eddie’s Panciteria.
Eddie’s Panciteria it was.
|PATRONS HAVING A GOOD TIME WHILE WAITING FOR THEIR PANCIT|
The panciteria was as ordinary as panciterias get, but the few locals we asked all swore by its name. The open-aired eatery was half-full with locals having their breakfast when we arrived. We sat down on its wooden benches and tried to decipher their menu.
|NAIMAS CANE VINEGAR FROM ILAGAN, ISABELA|
They have Regular Pancit (Php35.00), Special Pancit (Php60.00), Derecha w/ Egg (Php40.00) and Derecha w/o Egg (Php30.00). We wanted a plate of pancit cabagan and we were told we should order Special Pancit. We tried to ask what Derecha was but they can’t seem to explain it to us.
|PANCIT CABAGAN, READY TO BE SERVED|
We met Josephine, the proprietor of Eddie’s Panciteria and she told us that they’ve been serving pancit cabagan since 1998; their beginnings rooted from temporary make-shift stalls, with a dish costing a mere five pesos.
We asked her if we can see how a plate of pancit is prepared. She obligingly led us to her kitchen.
|MIXING THE PANCIT CABAGAN|
It was quite dark and stuffy in their kitchen but we managed to see how their cook transferred the saucy cabagan miki from a vat to our plates; a piece of hard-boiled egg here, chunks of pork lechon carajay there, and finally portions of braised pork. My mouth was already watering.
Pancit cabagan is usually served with quail eggs, but according to Josephine, their patrons prefer chicken eggs since they’re more filling.
From here, I can already see the main differences of pancit cabagan with pancit batil patong. This one’s saucier, its uncooked miki dryer, its egg, hard-boiled, it has no liver and uses pork instead of carabeef.
|PANCIT CABAGAN WITH CHILI VINEGAR DIP|
Soon, everything was on our table. We looked at the locals eating and mimicked what they were doing. They poured a Naimas cane vinegar into a small plate for dips, we poured some too. They put in a bunch of chilies, we followed suit. Naimas in Ilocano means delicious, and their locally made vinegar must be so.
|SAUCY PANCIT CABAGAN FROM EDDIE’S PANCITERIA|
Finally, it was time to for my first bite of an authentic pancit cabagan. From looks alone, I know it would be really delicious.
I poured a bit of vinegar in, forked a mouthful with a piece of braised pork on top, followed it through with a slice of egg and a crunch of lechon carajay. My favorite pancit batil patong may have met its match.
Eddie’s Panciteria Pancit Cabagan
Address: In front of Cabagan Public Market, National Highway, Cabagan, Isabela, Cagayan Valley
Open Hours: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, everyday
Menu: Click Here
GPS Coordinates Map: 17°25'40.6"N 121°46'21.7"E