Image courtesy Mylene Cooney
My Best Mexican Food Award for 2011 goes to Badladz Adventure Resort in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. It receives this award not only for delivering the best tasting Mexican food sampled around the Philippines in 2011 but also because the servings offer the best value for money of any Mexican restaurant I have ever eaten in, including those in Mexico.
Mexican food is not most people’s the first choice for foreign cuisine, unless you hail from the southern states of North America – most gastronomes would not class Mexican food as cuisine in any event. But the Badladz buritto and juevos rancheros are so distinctive that they are impossible to overlook if you have even the minutest passion for Mexican food. And that is why Badladz wins my 2011 award for the best Mexican food. [see: even my grammar is more spiced by the thought of dining at Badladz]
Most Mexican restaurants are not about the food – partly because most people can’t get their brains around refried beans & tortillas being a delicacy and partly because most Mexican dishes consist of more refried beans with more or fewer tortillas . . . the main variation usually being a soft or hard tortilla. Mostly, therefore, Mexican restaurants are about the journey into a seemingly obligatory tequila haze accompanied by mariachi bands, whose primary intent is to extort tips.
In fact, I do vaguely recall one of the “best” Mexican restaurants in Hong Kong – Casa Mexicana, between Causeway Bay and North Point – where, for a princely sum, you could actually erase up to twelve hours of your brain’s memory by consuming their simply moreish frozen margaritas followed by tequila shots. It was after one such evening (a dragon boat race party is the only thing I recall with any certainty), when I awoke twelve hours later, having no prior memory of either the lady or the bedroom in which I was ensconced, I vowed I would never touch tequila again. The irony of Casa Mexicana was that nobody ever went their for the Mexican food – most went to see how much noise maracas made before they disintegrated – but even the proprietors seemed not to care.
In the Philippines there seems to be at least one Mexican restaurant in every town frequented by North Americans. From Subic Bay to Panglao, Mexican food is available if you hunt for it. The difference is that the mariachi bands (with the exception of Subic Bay’s Dos Amigos) have been thoughtfully exported to Hong Kong and Singapore.
In the Philippines, Mexican food is served to be enjoyed for itself. Thus, the Philippine Mexican dining experience is one to be savored and compared, not for its entertainment value but for the quality of the food delivered.
At Badladz, the beans are imported, direct from Southern California, but almost everything else is made to order from local sources, so every delivery to the table is fresh and healthy. The simply delicious sauce is made from a secret, handed–down recipe and is so uniquely satisfying to the palate that it has been separately exported by courier to distant corners of Asia, to people who have previously visited Badladz for a vacation.
If more than food is desired to complete a Mexican dining experience, then consider the location of the Badladz restaurant: on the Puerto Galera waterfront, with uninterrupted views across one the the World’s most beautiful bays and just far enough away from the madding crowd to be conveniently tranquil. The beer is well chilled and the staff are as charming as a box full of kittens (not my description – the owner’s – but honest).
There is no doubt in my mind that, even without the frozen margaritas and the mariachi bands, the Mexican food dining experience at Badladz Adventure Resort is unquestionably one of the most unique in all of Asia and possibly in all the World (I have not traveled South America).
Badladz Adventure Resort is a no–nonsense backpacker’s destination, offering adequate air–conditioned rooms, scuba diving, motorcycle rental and a variety of adventures.
Best Mexican Food Award 2011 Badladz Adventure Resort, Puerto Galera
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author – Martyn Willes – based upon his own experience and do not necessarily reflect the experience of all people visiting the Badladz Adventure Resort. If you have other experiences you would like to share then email them to The Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org – for possible inclusion here