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Sizzling Lomi: Innovation in Presenting Lipa’s Favourite Food

Lipa-style lomi is so ubiquitous in the city where it was invented that it takes a bit of spunk to open a lomi house. Every lomi house has its own clique of loyal patrons; albeit there are those who think it something of a sport to hop from one house to another.

The point of all the moving around, but naturally, is to discover the city’s next hot lomi; and to do so means to gain bragging rights among friends. This is how quickly a lomi house’s repute can level up or be destroyed by word of mouth in this city where this noodly dish is as much a social as it is a culinary event.

The lomi is the lomi, however. Basically, it is noodles swimming in a bowl of hot thick broth or caldo, as it is known locally. How one lomi house gains competitive advantage over another is a subject almost fit for a doctoral dissertation.

Those with discriminating palates will insist that it is in the caldo that competitive advantage is gained. Others will argue, however, that the condiments are served along with the lomi to enable each individual customer to customise it to his or her palate’s satisfaction.

At the end of the day, because of the lomi’s ubiquity in the city, location and convenience ultimately dictates where one eats lomi more frequently. For readers who have not tried the sizzling lomi before, however, it is worth a try at least once.
Where few have innovated, however, is in the presentation. Lomi will look the same wherever it is served; that is, in a bowl with the inevitable bottle of soy sauce, chopped onions, calamansî and red hot chilli.

That is why Sizzling Lomi, a small joint in Inosluban north of Lipa City proper, wins full points for innovation in the way the lomi is served. I first read about it recently in somebody else’s blog; so apparently it is not new even if I had not heard of it before. Lomi housees, after all, do not advertise on national television.

The name alone induces curiosity as, indeed, sizzling plates are generally used for meat and fish delicacies; and certainly not for anything that has broth. Anyone hearing Sizzling Lomi immediately aches to know how it is actually done.

For marketing purposes, therefore, the name is not only unique but conceptually brilliant. Whether there was practicality to doing so – i.e. serving lomi on a sizzling plate – this I travelled from one end of the city to the other to find out for myself today.

First of all, Sizzling Lomi is as much carinderia as it is panciteria, the latter being where one can typically expect lomi to be among the standard fare. Rows of Filipino favourites are on display turô-turô style on one front counter. There is even a small sari-sarî store conveniently made available in one corner.

The place is small but cleaner than many lomi houses; and the shiny varnished bamboo communal tables and stools are almost a statement on the lomi’s egalitarian nature. Indeed, inside a lomi house, there are no social classes.

Of course, I ignored all the other offerings and immediately asked for the sizzling lomi as this was what I travelled from the opposite end of the city for. When it arrived after a short while, it was – lo and behold – indeed served on a sizzling plate.

Curiosity satisfied, albeit there is really no rocket science to it. The sizzling plate is really a low metallic bowl that probably does not keep the lomi hot as long as the traditional bowl does.

Because the broth is spread over a wider area and not contained as it is in a bowl, it cools down quickly. This will not necessarily be a bad thing, especially for those who like to break from tradition and ask for plates to eat the lomi from.

At 70 pesos, the sizzling lomi is more stiffly priced than its many cousins around the city. That said, the price is probably just right because few will come close in terms of the amount of ingredients swimming in the broth.

There are slices of pork and chicken, probably some squid or fish balls along with the standards one more or less comes to expect in a bowl of lomi anywhere in the city. Significantly, there is none of the doughy strips that other lomi houses pass for kikiam or meat but really taste like old newspaper.

Where the sizzling lomi can probably do better is in the caldo or the broth itself. The lomi will ultimately be always a matter of individual taste; but I thought from my serving this morning that there are many others in the city whose lomi can draw more bells and whistles than this one.

The crackling (chicharon) also did not taste too fresh. To be fair, this happens in many other lomi houses as well, especially if the crackling comes from off supermarket shelves. I will not hold this against Sizzling Lomi because, generally, I was happy that I took the bother. Not just to satisfy my curiosity, but primarily because I always admire innovation.

At the end of the day, because of the lomi’s ubiquity in the city, location and convenience ultimately dictates where one eats lomi more frequently. For readers who have not tried the sizzling lomi before, however, it is worth a try at least once.

Sizzling Lomi is just a few paces before the gate of Lipa Royale Estates if you are coming from the city proper.