An expression of both affection & good Filipino food classics

THE phrase in the speech balloon is catchy, an intended pun on the Filipino offensive remark. It is also the brand name. With the addition of Bogart The Explorer’s image beside it, the picture works perfectly.

Hoy, Panga! in Davao refers to the local delicacy, the tuna jaw, which is best enjoyed straight from the grill. However, in Boracay, it means something else. It’s an expression of affection.

Panga in Boracay in the Western Visayas (Malay, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo make up Region VI and Ilongo, Akeanon and Capiznon, Antiqueño are the regional dialects) is pronounced “pangga”, a word of affection that means “mahal” (dear or love).

However it’s pronounced, whatever it means, Hoy, Panga! is getting the attention, the double meaning is actually working to the restaurant’s advantage.

The “very Filipino, very funny and very pang-masa” name has a recall to the majority of the island’s population, which are Aklanons. After identifying Hoy, Panga! as a Filipino restaurant, which makes it’s easier to recommend to the tourists who are craving for some local delicacy.
With a uniquely designed two-level al fresco dining space in bamboo (modern architecture meets bahaykubo), built along a sloping terrain, Hoy, Panga! is becoming a favorite choice for many, even the locals included.

The homey ambience of the dining spaces is relaxing that encourages dining at a leisurely pace, or sips a cocktail or two, which you can do at the bar tucked in the corner on the lower level (try the mojitos- regular or lychee flavored).

If you want to shy away from the crowded beachfront, then this tranquil oasis set in a preserved patch of greenery is for you.

As to the food, “The menu is very Filipino, a good selection of Pinoy classics. Think crispy pata, sisig, and sinigang, only we have it in the tuna version, which is sourced from Davao, of course,” said Kim Honasan, the brainchild of the food business.

The Davao tuna “panga” is the top seller and the tuna belly comes in second. “Some of the foreigners still find the panga a bit exotic, so they order the belly instead,” said Nikki Sering, the chef in charge of food development.

I will recommend the Tuna Sisig, the Gambas (using medium sized shrimps cooked to perfection), and a personal all-time favorite, the Sionga, not the local gay lingo term meaning “idiot”, but an acronym for “siopaona tuna napanga” aka tuna buns that’s deep-fried.

The menu though is not entirely exclusive to seafood. The sinigang has a version in pork, there’s pork barbecue (served bite sized in mini skewers, good as viand or bar chow) and the fried chicken with a distinctive, yet mild, cumin flavoring.

If you’re not a fan of vegetables, you will be. The eggplant salad with coconut milk (the smoky flavoring of the grilled eggplant blends perfectly well with sweet, creamy taste of the coconut milk with the chili as an added kick) and the Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw (string beans and pumpkin cooked in coconut milk) will make place an extra order of rice, which also comes with “bagoong” preparation.

Even the breakfast fare of arrozcaldo and champurado are served with a twist. You can have it in the restaurant or “to-go” from the pop-up food cart on the parking space, pretty much how you pick up your morning brew from your favorite coffee shop on the way to work.

Kim is not relying entirely on the Pinoy menu’s strengths to lure in the dining crowd and keep them coming back for more. He is looking into providing entertainment as well. It’s a competitive edge practiced among the beachside establishments.

With Hoy, Panga!’s location, which is away from the high traffic foot path, the restaurant has to have its own.

Entertainment has to be unique. For it’s first serving, Hoy, Panga! is flying in Premiere Filipino-American comedian Rex Navarette to perform live in Boracay Island for a three-night show entitled “Heartburn – A Night of Food & Comedy” on February 23, 24 & 25.

The live stand-up comedy act will be the first of its kind in the island and will be a regular gig at Hoy, Panga! Boracay and musical artists—Manila and local bands, and guest DJs—will be performing alternately.

If you ask me, Hoy, Panga!’s current status is an impressive achievement for a four-month old roadside restaurant in an island cradling countless restaurants. Why? Maybe because to those who have tried Hoy, Panga’s offerings, the Pinoy cuisine have made its way past the taste buds into their hearts. It’s already a “pangga” to them.

Hoy Panga! is easy to locate. It’s along the main road in Station 2, a few meters away from D’Mall. Bogart, the Explorer will point you to its direction.

Go visit and fall in love with the place and the food.

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