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Love hotpot? Try spicy sinigang, bulalo broth flavors at this local chain

Steph Arnaldo

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Love hotpot? Try spicy sinigang, bulalo broth flavors at this local chain
Nabe's limited edition Pinoy broths are a nice and tasty slurp-rise!

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos love hotpot, and we also love our soups. It may not make sense at first to merge Tagaytay’s famous bulalo and Pinoy favorite sinigang into the hotpot experience, but it slurp-risingly works at Nabe Izakaya.

To celebrate Independence Day, the local hotpot and izakaya chain is serving three Filipino broth bases until the end of June – Bulalo, Spicy Sinigang, and Tinola – for P588 per head on weekdays and P688 on weekends, inclusive of unli-broth refills, US graded premium meats, balls, tofu, vegetables, and everything else you might need for a soup-erior hot pot experience.

Which reigns soup-reme?

We tried the Bulalo and Spicy Sinigang broths at Nabe’s Sky Ranch Tagaytay branch; the overcast weather and drizzling rain made it the perfect setting to enjoy our simmering bowls of hot soup.

NABE IZAKAYA AND HOTPOT. We visited Nabe’s Sky Ranch Tagaytay branch along the Nasugbu-Tagaytay highway. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

It was only right to try Nabe’s Bulalo broth in Tagaytay City – and Nabe’s hot pot version is a good tribute to the classic Filipino beef marrow soup. The broth is not oily; it is subtle yet proudly beefy, delivering that distinctly comforting and meaty flavor that isn’t overly umami.

FILIPINO FAVORITES. Spicy sinigang and bulalo steal the hotpot show for the month of June. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

It comes with chunks of bone marrow, adding to its authentic taste and making it a bit more indulgent. The broth is served with traditional bulalo accompaniments like cabbage and corn (the only thing missing was the patis and calamansi).

AUTHENTIC BULALO. Tastes just like the real thing, complete with beef shanks, beef marrow, sweet corn, tender beef, and cabbage. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The broth paired well with the US-graded beef strips, Angus beef, and even pork shoulder and chicken. Because the broth wasn’t too salty, the dipping sauces helped to enhance the flavors.

ALL THE WORKS. Nabe’s spicy sinigang broth comes with the usual veggies of our household. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

For those craving a tangy kick, the Spicy Sinigang broth is a must-try. The almost clear broth packs a punch with its asim-kilig sourness, balanced with a very mild hint of spice. It’s served with the usual sinigang vegetables – okra, kangkong (water spinach), gabi (taro), tomato, and labanos (radish).

Despite being labeled as spicy, the heat was mild, allowing the sourness to shine through. The broth was so flavorful that we didn’t feel the need to use the dipping sauces we made. However, if you prefer your hotpot base to be more subtle (and for those who prefer their sinigang less sour), this may not be your best option. But for us, it was a hit.

HOTPOT ADDITIONS. Nabe has several hotpot balls to choose from, ranging from regular to premium. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

It may be a surprise to your tastebuds at first to pair sinigang with hotpot balls, but it quickly pairs well with the premium beef, pork, chicken, and even mushrooms provided.

Both Filipino soup bases catered to local tastes are worth a try, and in our opinion, should remain on the menu! We heard that the bulalo would become a mainstay eventually; here’s to hoping the sinigang one will be, too.

According to Nabe, the chain’s best-selling broths are the Tonkotsu and sweet Sukiyaki, and the Tantan and Schezuan for the spicy favorites.

PREMIUM MEATS. US grade beef, pork shoulder, chicken, and beef short plate. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Nabe Hotpot offers a variety of premium ingredients to complement their broths, like high-quality meat that isn’t chewy or malitid – tender beef, pork shoulder, and chicken quarters. The hotpot balls include beef balls, mushroom balls, squid balls, sea urchin balls, Singapore fishcake, squid ink balls, seafood balls, and fun-shaped balls like kitty, flower, bunny, and star.

FRESH PRODUCE. There’s enough veggies to go around the table. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

For the fresh veggies, there’s bok choy, sweet potato leaves, sweet corn, potato, wakame (seaweed), and mushrooms like black fungus, enoki, oyster, shiitake, and shimeji, and other additions like fresh and fried tofu skin, egg or rice noodles, Japanese/Wagyu rice, and raw eggs for mixing with the broth.

DIPPING SAUCE STATION. There are 8 ingredients in Nabe’s hotpot sauce station, and instructions on how to make Nabe’s signature sauce. Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The dipping sauce station offers a simple selection of ponzu sauce, Nabe’s goma dare sauce, red chili pepper, garlic, green onion, ginger, and sate sauce.

Enjoying the hot pot experience was enough for us, but if you want something cooked, Nabe also serves a range of Japanese dishes for an additional P288 upgrade. You can get crab stick tempura, mixed tempura, gyoza, butabara on a stick, chicken teriyaki, chicken karaage, fried chicken wings, gyudon, and maki rolls like California, kani, and tempura.

Nabe Hotpot has four other branches: Ayala Malls Vertis North in Quezon City; SM Grand Central in Caloocan; SM City Baguio, and Banawe, Quezon City. –

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.