Monday, March 4, 2019

Flavors of Boracay: Completing The Boracay Experience with Sumptuous Cuisine at White House Beach Resort

Boracay finally reopens, and a sumptuous feast awaits at White House Beach Resort...

Boracay's iconic White House Beach Resort welcomes summer with a mouthwatering array of fresh and bold flavors to complement the vibrant turquoise waters, pristine white sands and brilliant blue skies in one of the world's most beautiful beaches. It's finally open and summer's here, bring some sunscreen and come hungry...

Months after the controversial closure and extensive rehabilitation, Boracay once again emerges as the country's premier summer destination with its famed soft and powder white sand and clear blue waters. It also highlighted just how fragile paradise can be and without the timely intervention, may have been another sad case of paradise lost. This was my first time back at Boracay since it formally reopened late last year, and I had high expectations. This was, after all, one of the world's favorite destinations. 

Our trip began after touching down at Kalibo International Airport, followed by an hour-long van ride to Caticlan. Throughout the trip, visible signs of rehabilitation indicated there's still so much more to be done, but somehow it still left a positive impression that at least things are moving. Reaching the port, we boarded our boat for Caticlan... 

...greeted by blue skies and clear waters. I couldn't help but notice how the whole island just seemed so spotlessly clean, bringing me back to the earlier days when I first visited Boracay. It's definitely looking good.    

Papers checked and stamped, going through the port's arrival procedures was a breeze. It just seemed a lot more organized now. But then again, this isn't the height of the summer season just yet. Strict protocols and guidelines are now in place to limit the number of tourist arrivals to help preserve the pristine state of the island. It's a necessary precaution required to keep Boracay just the way we always envisioned it to be, that island oasis far away from the excessive commercialism of modern times. But there's just something in the air one can't help but notice, that overwhelming feeling of positive and good vibes that welcomes you back to paradise. This is the Boracay I remember... 

...and it looks damn good. Infinite stretches of powdery white sand meet clear waters of pale green to deep blue tones under a bright blue sky for that familiar palette of colors Boracay is known for, faithfully restored. Simply point and shoot your camera or phone, and Boracay's Station 1 does the rest. That's nature in high contrast. The entire beach is decluttered, devoid of the obstructions from the past. No matter how many times you've been here, Boracay never fails to amaze. Boracay's Station 1 is back on track.

And just like before, White House Beach Boracay shines brightest along Boracay's famed Station 1. The familiar white structure with its distinctive red roof once again welcomes travelers home, to their own spot of paradise.

One of Boracay's oldest family-run resorts, the inspiring story of White House Beach Resort began in the early nineties when Leonard and Nenette Tirol built a family beach house on their ancestral beach property. Located at the most prized and sought-after portion of the island, referred to as Station 1, the majestic white house was often called "puting bahay" by locals and early visitors back then, already an iconic fixture in Boracay's scenic landscape. In the early nineties, the property was opened to the public and White House Beach Resort has since been one of the island's famous attractions. And why not, the cozy family vacation home still retains that homey feel, but on a much larger scale with an epic beachfront view. Just think of it as having front row seats to one nature's spectacular light shows everyday. And there's nothing quite like sunsets in Boracay.     

Behind the pool overlooking the beach is White House Beach Resort's Station Juan Beach Lounge, and this is where it all happens. Offering all-day dining and cocktails, it's the perfect spot for breakfast and cocktails. It's also the ideal vantage point for observing the endless parade of beach lovers and the magnificent Boracay sunset. Station Juan beach Lounge also offers daily Sunset BBQ, with hot dogs, pork, chicken, chorizo, isaw, chori burger and pork liempo all fresh from the grill. What can be better than some barbecue and a cold beer while watching the sunset?  

Our early morning red eye flight allowed us to experience breakfast with a view at Station Juan Beach Lounge. White House Beach Resort serves a comforting cup of freshly brewed coffee sourced from local farmers with deep, robust and bold nutty notes. Ask for a pot, trust me.   

For breakfast, Station Juan Beach Lounge offers local and continental fare, including fluffy omelets, pork tocino and local sausages or longganisa with garlic fried rice and eggs. It's the kind of breakfast that acquaints you with White House Beach Resort's comforting culinary style. My first day at the reopened Boracay is off to a great start...

After breakfast, take a swim in the cool waters or why not go paddle boarding? 

For me, enjoying Boracay means having no itinerary at all. Pick a lounge chair at White House Beach Resort's Station Juan Beach Lounge and just take it all in...

Doing absolutely nothing, after all, is what Boracay is all about at least for me. So just lay back on the white sand and immerse yourself in Boracay's charm. TripAdvisor recently included Boracay as one of the 25 Asia's Best Beaches in the 2019 Travelers' Choice Awards, and that's with the ongoing rehabilitation. It's a sure sign of even better things yet to come.

The Paraw, a local outrigger sailboat, is just one of many must-do activities in Boracay, if you somehow convince yourself to stand up from your comfortable lounge chair at White House Beach Resort's Station Juan Beach Lounge. It's also great to see the sails without any corporate logos too. And if you do decide to pull yourself up, it's time for lunch... 

White House Beach Resort ups its culinary game with its lavish and sumptuous repertoire of signature dishes at Los Indios Bravos, a gastropub offering hearty fare inspired by British pub grub. Los Indios Bravos is the very first to showcase all-Filipino handcrafted beers on tap paired with comforting pub fare from all over the world. The gastropub's name is a fitting tribute to the vision of the historic revolutionary movement, as Los Indios Bravos blazes new culinary trails in Boracay.

Inside Los Indios Bravos, the spacious interiors exude a warm and cozy vibe with its rustic dark wood furnishings and polished concrete accentuated by nostalgic black & white prints, an homage to the original revolutionary movement from the early 1800s. This is where some of Boracay's finest is served. What's your favorite local craft beer?

The bar offers some of the finest local artisan craft beer on tap, you can sample a Beer Flight (P 150) with three brews including Chocolate Hills Porter and Dumaguete Dubbel by The Cebruery, Kalinga Kolsch, Lapu-Lapu Lager and Exit Wounds by Crazy Carabao; De Puta Madre by Crows Craft Brewing and Fish Rider by Joe's Brew to name a few.

The local craft beers are definitely a draw at Los Indios Bravos. But there are other refreshing options for the family as well. Start your feast with a refreshing Lemon Cucumber Mint Slush (P 120), the Watermelon Shake (P 120) or hey, why not a Milkshake (P 150)? You're on vacation, right? 

The starters alone at Los Indios Bravos are a meal in itself, from tasty bites to salads. For White House Beach Resort's celebrity Chef Martin Jickain, the wide array of dishes is inspired by his travels and the dishes he loves, and you'll see that at Station Juan Beach Lounge all the way to Los Indios Bravos. Each dish is masterfully prepared and presented, completing another layer to your Boracay experience.

Take the salads at Los Indios Bravos. Using only the finest and freshest ingredients, Los Indios Bravos offers an extensive selection of healthy bowls to start your meal. Dining remains an important element in any travel experience, and Los Indios Bravos seamlessly weaves this to your memorable stay at White House Beach Resort. The Cobb Salad (P 495) combines smoky Cajun chicken, crisp bacon and smoked salmon with fresh tomatoes, red onions, celery, fresh garlic croutons and blue cheese with a sweet and tart apple cider vinaigrette...

...while the Tuna Nicoise (P 495) is a refreshing Provencal-style salad with pan-seared tuna, anchovy-flavored roasted potatoes, capers, Kalamata olives, oranges, French beans and boiled egg with a tart lemon vinaigrette, both offering distinct flavors. A chef once told me, freshness is flavor, and these salad bowls are full of it.

An escape to a tropical island isn't complete without some fresh seafood. The Oyster Rockefeller (P 360-8pcs) is an absolute must-try. Succulent local oysters baked with sauteed spinach, bacon bits, Mornay sauce and mixed cheeses, the briny sweetness of the plump oysters just punches through followed by the bite of the cheese, bacon and spinach. Just perfect. If you want fresh oysters, Los Indios Bravos has that covered too.  

And you just gotta have some Nachos (P 420) with crisp tortilla chips slathered with chili beef, Cheddar cheese sauce, tomato coriander salsa and creamy yogurt. But there's more... the Samosa (P 250), fried Indian puffs stuffed with spinach, potatoes and cauliflower served with tamarind sauce, tomato chutney and a side salad (L) and if you still can't decide what to order, go for the Indios Platter (P 580) with Croquettes, Bitterballen, Baked Oyster, Chicken Goujons, Chicken Wings and Nachos (R).

The Shepherd's Pie (P 420) is classic British pub grub with rosemary-infused lamb stew, peas and carrots covered in homemade mashed potatoes and cheese. The savory richness of the lamb is tempered by the sweetness of the peas and carrots, perfectly finished by the buttery mashed potatoes. This and a dark beer? Yes, please. Other savory pies offered at Los Indios Bravos include the Cottage Pie (P 350) with minced beef stew and Beef and Mushroom Pie (P 290). 

Now, you're just about ready for the mains...

Big is always better, and the impressive Dino Bones (P 2,495) adds that exclamation point to your dining experience at Los Indios Bravos. With seven to eight US Angus Beef Back Ribs, the Dino Bones are simply massive. Yet the beef is tender and fall-off-the-bone, delivering rich beefy notes with every bite. 

Glazed with smoked bbq sauce for a tart sweetness, each rib easily fills up your plate. But you'll need to leave some space on your plate for some tasty sides like Mashed Potatoes, Coleslaw and Buttered Cajun Corn with a subtle hint of soothing heat from the Cajun spices. You can also opt for Steak Fries or Steamed White Rice if you wish.

If you're looking for something lighter, the Pan-Roasted Salmon Fillet (P 495) topped with tomato chutney and steakhouse sauce with a side salad drizzled with Passion Fruit Dressing should do the trick. Craving for wings? The Ultra Crispy Full Chicken Wings (P 295/P 540/P 760) in Garlic, Honey and Soy and Spicy BBQ are also popular. 

Los Indios Bravos gets creative with the Salt and Pepper Beef (P 695), tender double-cooked US Angus Beef Riblets seasoned with cinnamon salt, chili and Spanish onions topped with stir-fried vegetables and served with steamed white rice and spiced vinegar...  

...and the Braised Lamb Shank (P 950), another favorite, with fork-tender lamb on Arborio risotto topped with balsamic glazed vegetables and tomato stew dusted with shaved Parmesan Grana Padano. The richness of the lamb and risotto pack a flavorful one-two punch for another outstanding dish. Both flavor and presentation come together perfectly at Los Indios Bravos. 

Los Indios Bravos also serves Certified US Angus Beef. The Ribeye Steak (P 2,200-12 oz) is perfectly grilled to medium with a juicy pink center topped with crispy onions and served with buttered corn, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes with your choice of sauce. Other options include the New York Cut and Cowboy Steak. 

For dessert, take your pick among Los Indios Bravos' indulgent offerings like the Deep-Fried Mars Bar (P 250), a personal favorite, the Chocolate and Hazelnut Bread Pudding (P 250), Apple Pie Ala Mode (P 250) or the decadent Mud Pie (P 250). Pair it with White House Beach Resort's famous coffee, and that's how you end an epic meal. 

After a satisfying lunch, we were then led to our rooms, our home away from home at Boracay's famed Station 1. White House Beach Resort offers a variety of accommodations to suit any requirement or budget, from Deluxe Rooms, Standard Deluxe, Superior Deluxe and Family Suites all the way to Beach House Deluxe for large groups or families.

By late afternoon, guests converge at Station Juan Beach Lounge for the much-awaited magic hour. The setting sun casts a golden glow on the white sand... beach lovers take advantage of the last few rays of sun. Laid-back, casual, and just chill, the Boracay vibe is definitely back.

The white sands of Boracay's Station 1 are the ideal playground for many beach activities...

...but it all takes a back seat to another dramatic performance of the setting sun...

...leaving a golden glow on the calm waters glistening with the remaining light. That calls for one more round of cocktails or an ice-cold beer by the beach.

By dinner, Mrs. Nenette Tirol, Chef Martin Jickain and his wife, Maggi Tirol Jickain and Chef Sau del Rosario collaborate for an epic Boodle Feast, White House Beach Resort style. A long table is draped with fresh and fragrant banana leaves and topped with steamed white rice ringed by pancit, chicken and pork adobo, inihaw na liempo, ensaladang talong, salted eggs, tomatoes, fresh shrimps, danggit and dried pusit capped by a whole roasted Cochinillo.

Guests, specially large groups and families, may arrange for a Boodle Feast at White House Beach Resort for a memorable gathering. Depending on how you want your own Boodle Feast, all White House Beach Resort needs is a day in advance to give them adequate time to prepare. More than just a feast, it's about being together and living the moment. And you can add that to your list of dining options at White House Beach Resort.  

Chef Martin Jickain then does the celebratory slice with a plate, peeling the lightly crisp layer of crackling from the juicy pork. With the cochinillo carved, we took our seats at the table and the feasting began. Comforting local flavors and a whole lot of good vibes, you'll find it here at White House Beach Resort.

But Boracay had so many tasty surprises, like tasty bites from a local neighborhood bakery. Chef Martin Jickain also manages MarTinapay, a successful bakery and restaurant serving Filipino cuisine. A favorite among locals, this is where you'll find them any time of day enjoying a bowl of Batchoy with a few beers. And this tasty Hopia Sibuyas (more on the fresh-baked local treats of MarTinapay on my next post, Flavors of Boracay: Nostalgic Bakery Treats from Boracay's MarTinapay)...

Located right across Fairways & Bluewater Boracay, MarTinapay is more than just a neighborhood bakery. It's a popular hangout among locals, and it's packed every single day and night. What makes it a favorite among locals? 

Maybe it's the cool and casual vibe where you can just enjoy good food with drinks among friends. Maybe's it's the Pork Sisig topped with egg (R) that just pairs so well with an ice-cold beer. Or the satisfying Pares (L), a savory beef dish with the sweet hints of star anise and a full meal served with rice and soup... 

...or the La Paz Batchoy that warms both the palate and body with its rustic flavors. Whatever it is, a stop at MarTinapay is always a good idea when in Boracay. Many local workers from various resorts flock to MarTinapay after their shift for a sumptuous meal and a few rounds of beer with friends. It's this local vibe that gives MarTinapay it's fun and unique character.

But it's the local baked bread that makes MarTinapay a favorite among locals and visitors alike, serving up fresh-baked treats like Cheese Rolls...

...Spanish Bread, Banana Muffins, Banana Bread, and my favorites, the Hopia Sibuyas and Pan de Coco (more on MarTinapay on my post, Flavors of Boracay: Nostalgic Bakery Treats from Boracay's MarTinapay).

Early the next day, the calm waters greet another wave of visitors...

...and long walks on the cool white sand become part of your routine. The changes are immediately noticeable, gone are the distracting loud music blaring from a hundred speakers, the grills right on the beach, and banners with corporate logos. Given some time to recuperate, the white sandy beaches are back to its former form. 

Mad hatters and peddlers ply the beach under the midday sun, but not in the same numbers before the closure. I hear vendors are now regulated, which is a good sign. I've thought about the closure long and hard, and the results clearly speaks for itself. Though far from being completely rehabilitated, Boracay is really looking good. Sacrifices have already been made, and it just makes sense to stay the course and see its completion. And as your mind wanders off, it's time for lunch...   

Los Indios Bravos lays out another lavish spread for lunch, starting with the Seafood Platter (P 2,200 serves four) showcasing the day's freshest catch on a bed of ice with succulent poached prawns, smoked salmon, pan-seared tuna, plump fresh oysters from Roxas, Kilawin Shooters and poached mussels with tomato salsa served with traditional seafood condiments and sauces. 

Like many of the dishes at Los Indios Bravos, presentation is given the same care and attention as with fresh and vibrant flavors. The Seafood Platter is an indulgent selection that feeds first the eyes before the palate. Each bite delivers the rich briny sweetness of the fresh seafood that's perfectly washed down with an ice-cold beer. 

A pair of refreshing salads adds even more flavor to the never empty table. The Chicken Souvlaki (P 495) is a Greek-style salad with roasted oregano garlic chicken, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onions, Feta cheese, cucumber and capsicums with a lemon mustard vinaigrette...

...while the Caesar Salad (P 450) with red beetroot-cured salmon and chili tofu is an inventive spin on a classic. None of the salad dishes, including the pair we had the day before, shared the same flavors, each one was different. And that's what makes the extensive menu at Los Indios Bravos special, a different dining experience is guaranteed each time you visit for a meal.  

White House Beach Resort has been known for its popular Chori Burger, but their signature burger deserves a share of the spotlight. The Premium Beef Burger (P 440) features a thick and juicy patty made with Brazilian "Zebu" beef topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, garden-fresh and crisp iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and onions slathered with horseradish mustard aioli on a soft kaiser bun with sour dill pickle and fries on the side. Personally, the beef patty should always be the hero no matter how many toppings you add. And one bite clearly delivers that beefy flavor, perfectly complemented by the mildly sweet and spicy horseradish mustard aioli. The soft kaiser bun completes this burger, holding up well and retaining its form all the way to the last bite. 

Diners can also discover global flavors, like the Golden Paratha (P 395), a fried flaky Indian bread filled with savory curried chicken topped with fried onions, yogurt and fresh cilantro. The soft and crisp bread and the richness of the curry combine for another tasty dish at Los Indios Bravos. The variety of flavors at Los Indios Bravos means you can sample different dishes each time you visit.  

Consistent with its British pub theme, the Pub-Style Fish and Chips (P 380) with beer-battered snapper served with mushy peas, chips, malt vinegar and tartare sauce is another of my personal favorites at Los Indios Bravos. The thin layer of breading is perfectly crisp with its subtle notes of beer contrasting with the soft and sweet snapper. Add a generous dollop of tartare and you've got one of the best fish and chips in the island of Boracay. A dip in the malt vinegar cuts the richness of the breading for balanced flavors. The chips complete the dish, crisp and seasoned for bold flavors. Pair this with a dark beer or a hoppy IPA to get into the gastropub vibe.   

A decent pub worth its salt should have sausages, and Los Indios Bravos aces that with its Sausage and Mash (P 440) featuring four kinds of sausages including Bratwurst, Cheese Bockwurst, Hungarian and Kielbasa served with creamy mashed potatoes, pickled vegetables, curry ketchup and Dijon mustard. It's pub grub elevated to a style unique to Los Indios Bravos. 

The curry ketchup and Dijon mustard add that flavorful sharpness to the sausages, perfectly finished by the buttery mashed potatoes. One more round of Tropic Haze? Absolutely. 

The Chicken Tikka Masala (P 440) with tender chicken draped in tomato butter curry served with sides of fried onions, tomato chutney and steamed long grain Basmati rice rounds out another epic lunch at Los Indios Bravos. From starters to mains and desserts, Los Indios Bravos has it covered. In fact, you don't even have to leave White House Beach Resort for a satisfying meal. And that gives you even more time to, well, do nothing at the beach. 

After another heavy lunch, a long walk on the beach provides some sense of clarity. The gentle breeze seem to wash away all your cares and worries as you walk the powder soft sand. Clearly, Boracay has not lost any of its magic, and all this is just a few steps directly in front of White House Beach Resort.

The early afternoon and the midday sun leaves the beach empty, except for a few hardcore sun worshippers. It's that moment, when you have the beach all to yourself, that it becomes all too clear. This is worth all the sacrifice, and Boracay must be preserved. 

While in Boracay, don't forget to try Sirena Salted Caramel Vodka, a local small batch spirit distilled by Aklan's very own Destileria Barako. Indulgently sweet with a velvety smooth finish, enjoy it on the rocks by the beach while the light shifts.

By mid-afternoon, more people head out and hit the beach...

...but despite that, you still feel like you have the entire stretch all to yourself. And you're helplessly wrapped around Boracay's charm once again.

Time passes slowly, but you don't mind as another sunset announces the beginning of even more interesting possibilities.

Late the next day, an early lunch at Los Indios Bravos was prepared before the flight home. The classic Reuben (P 395) with fresh slabs of brined beef brisket, sauerkraut and Gruyere cheese with a generous schmear of thousand island dressing on sourdough bread is a light yet satisfying meal... 

...along with favorites from the previous day's lunch like the Golden Paratha...

...and the Pub-Style Fish and Chips. Perfectly crisp with its light layer of beer batter, the dish brings flavor and texture to play to end your last day in paradise on a high note.

It's flavorful memories like these...

...and Boracay's eternal summer that completes my experience at one of the world's best beaches. And you have front row seats at White House Beach Resort.

White House Beach Resort is located at Station 1, Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan or call +632 638-7368 (Manila), +63917-595-5996 (Globe), +63999-880-2746 (Smart) or email for more information and inquiries. You can also check out their FB Page at for more updates.

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