BATANES | Pension Ivatan: A Taste of Authentic Ivatan Cuisine


Philippines is an archipelago and geography affects the way locals prepare their respective cuisines. Every part of the country has a specialty to offer. With the isolation of the province of Batanes, Ivatan cuisine is not that widely promoted in the metro and other areas of the country compared to the famous ones like the Kapampangan, Ilocano and Bicolano dishes.

Ivatan Platter (Php 1,700). Batanes best in a single plate.

Visiting Batanes is the perfect way for me to know the Ivatans, and one of the best approaches to get closer with them is to have a sample of what they eat. During my third night in the province, I was glad to be invited by Pension Ivatan to try the authentic Ivatan dishes they offer.

Pension Ivatan started to cater visitors in 2004. The place is owned by Tess De Leon who also manages Kusina Cagayana in Tuguegarao City. She came from a Kapampangan and Bulakenyo clans so the love for cooking runs in her blood. With the urge to ensure the authenticity of the Ivatan food, she spent time with the elders of the province to properly curate the set of meals to be offered. From here, she found out that one feature of the Ivatan cuisine is that it’s a little bland. The normal flavor for us might be overpowering for them (Ivatans).

Healthy crispy sweet potato (camote) chips.

Pension Ivatan’s menu is divided into Batanes Best that features the authentic Ivatan dishes and the Filipino Favorites such as starters, soups, salads, main entrees, on-the-grill, and platters.

While waiting for the food to be served, a basket of Camote (sweet potato) chips was offered to us. The sweet potato was thinly sliced making it crispier when fried. We had the Ivatan Platter (Php 1,700) which consists of payi (lobster), tatus (coconut crab), uved balls, luñes or luniz, vunes, grilled dibang, inihaw na tadyang ng baka, kanañiz, pako salad, and supas (turmeric rice) for dinner.

Uved balls (Php 150). Minced banana pith with pork and fish flakes.
Luñis (Php 280). Ivatan’s version of adobo; pork slowly cooked on its own fat and salt, seasoned with a lot of fried garlic.
Vunes (Php 130). Minced dried gabi stalks.
Grilled Dibang/Flying Fish (Php 70/gram).
Inihaw na Tadyang ng Baka (Php 150).
Kanañiz or cuttlefish (giant squid) for Php 230.

One of the best seller starters they have is the Batanes Flavor with spoonfuls of kinilaw na tanigue, Caliente or beef soft skin, grilled liempo, beef tapa and camote chips. I was able to try the Caliente which is actually spicy but tolerable and just right for the cold weather of Batanes.

Batanes Flavor (Php 250). Foreground clockwise: inihaw na liempo, kinilaw na tanigue, beef tapa, camote chips and caliente.
Bulalo with humahum (Php 280).

Aside from the platter and starter, they also served a hefty bowl of bulalo with “humahum” or baby ferns as ingredient. I was intrigued by the fern since it looks like the plant that grows in our garden. I was thrilled when I found out that it’s the same plant. If I’m going to suggest a dish, it would be the Stuffed Gabi Roll. It is comparable to Bicolano’s laing with the fish wrapped with gabi leaves and perfectly simmered in young coconut milk savored with shrimp paste (alamang).

Stuffed gabi roll (Php 200).
Dukay Salad (Php 50) with tuge (root crop similar to gabi) as main ingredient.

The scrumptious dinner was ended with a creamy Dukay Salad having the root crop tuge (similar to taro) as main ingredient. It was also interesting to try their house blend Iced Tea (Php 50). The restaurant has 2 dining areas but I do suggest you try to dine in the shack near the entrance of the restaurant/hometel. The overall dining experience was great having a commendable service provided by the staff, a wide array of food selections, relaxed ambiance and affordable and appetizing Ivatan gastronomy. Plus, they’re located just across Basco Airport. Definitely, a must restaurant to check when you are in the northernmost province of the Philippines.

Pension Ivatan Hometel and Restaurant

Barangay Kayvalugan, Basco, Batanes

* Thanks to the owner Mrs Tess De Leon for accommodating us on her restaurant and to Ferdz Decena of for the invite.


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