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Dining at Daling’s: A Dash of Secret Spice and Motherly Love

Nothing says “Kasarap nare!” like a hearty lomi dish prepared by Ms. Magdalena “Ka- Daling” Mercado of San Salvador, Lipa City.

Especially if you are born and raised Batangueno who is enthralled by that delicate balance of homemade noodles (Miki), tasty toppings of meats, thick, savory egg-cassava broth, and some good ol’ vibes only an ol’ style lomi haus could embody.

Daling and Lope’s Lomi Haus, locally known as “Kay Ka Daling”, belongs to that endangered species of lomi houses that stay true to authentic Batangas Lomi recipe– one that is reminiscent of the taste, consistency and aromatics of the lomi houses of old.

The now 56-year-old home owned by the parents of Ka Daling first offered usual lutong bahay portions, serving their ka-barangays tasty ulams from the mornings until the afternoons. But in 2019, right before the infamous Taal Volcano eruption, Ka Lope and wife Daling started to include Batangas Lomi in their menu.

“Nag-try lang din ako,” the 65-year old Daling says hinting that to her, the recipe was nothing special and would not be able to reach the fame it has now been renowned. Remarkably, Ka Daling’s Lomi Haus is one of the few businesses that stayed open during Taal Volcano’s unrest, continuing to serve locals comfort food during times of distress, “Kami lang talaga ang bukas noong panahong ‘yon, nakilala din kami dahil do’n.”

“Minsan may isang matandang lalakeng dumaan, sinabi niya: Nanay, kung makikinig ka, idagdag mo ito sa iyong ingredients, at siguro’y papatok ang lomi mo.”

“Nakinig ako sa kaniya.”

Ms. Daling remarked that the mysterious man was right; that after that encounter, the lomi haus gained more patrons from outside of San Salvador.

“Pagkatapos noon, hindi ko na ulit siya nakita, parang hulog siya ng langit.”

To Another Level of Fame

“Noong kumain dito si Jayzar Recinto (of Hello Lipa), lalong dumami ang aming customers, the San Salvador local smiles as she thanks “Mr. First Bite” and other vloggers who come to feature their family business and further their restaurant’s online presence.

Their lomi house now serves 40 kilos of miki on a weekday and 50 kilos on a weekend. “Nahihiya nga ako, kapag may dumadating na ng hapon, tapos ubos na (ang lomi). True enough, the lomi house is never empty as Ka Daling’s best sellling lomi, chami and bihon are served as breakfast, lunch and merienda.

She says that their establishment has been hosting foodies (who come in vans!) from as far as Manila and Pampanga. It is worth noting that despite the lomi house’s newfound fame, Daling and Lope retained and even grew their local following; more than the tasty Lipeno delicacy, Ka Daling and her sisters who take the front of house duties glow with motherly love, welcoming guests with a genuine smile, knowing their patrons by their nicknames, and cooking and serving the house’s specialties themselves whenever time permits.

Ka Daling and Lope’s lomi house also participated in the 2023 Feast of Lipa Lomi Food Fair— an invite-only food festival that features the best of Lipa City’s homegrown cuisine. “Nagulat ako dahil naimbitahan kami.” Indeed, it is quite a feat that a lomi house established only five years ago now stands alongside Lomi King, Liam’s Lomi House and Benok’s— other go-to lomi houses with decades of experience under their belts.

What’s Ahead
When asked about the likely expansion of their lomi house, Ka Daling gently shakes her head no. “Baka hindi na kasi nakakapagod din. The homey feel of Ka Daling’s lomi house seats about 30 to 40 people and because of its relatively small menu, food is served in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

Daling and Lope, now gracefully in their mid-60s opted not to expand their menu nor their establishment as they now eye a more relaxed retirement life.

While the allure of more fame and money is evident, like a true Batangueno, the couple opted to have more time with their families and friends while still serving their patrons classic pansit dishes they have been and will always be known for.

About Joel James Cubillas

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