BACOLOD isn’t all chicken inasal! Yes, yes, the city has proven synonymous with its famous savory barbeque, but that’s not all “City of Smiles” has to offer when it comes to gastronomical fare.
Here’s a rundown of some local faves and some street food staples. You can’t leave Bacolod City without trying these delectable Negrense delicacies.
Let’s get it out of the way! First things first when embarking on a belly-busting culinary journey of Bacolod City: the obligatory stopover to Manokan Country.
The locale is known as the birth place of the chicken inasal – charcoal grilled poultry marinated with sinamak andbasted with a rich anato oil, a simple yet tasty concoction that has proven itself a Filipino favorite the whole country over.
At the Manokan Country strip in Bacolod City’s Reclamation Area, you get not one, not two, but several of this region’s foremost experts and pioneers when it comes to chicken inasal – among them Aida’s and Nenas Beth.
Feel no guilt dining with your bare-hands at the no-frills karinderya-style eateries of Manokan Country. A hearty meal of grilled petcho or paa, paired with a few cups of chicken oil-drenched rice and maybe a bucket of talaba will surely hit the spot!
STREET FOOD CRAWL
When craving the usual street food fare like isaw and dynamite sticks (cheese and chili peppers wrapped in lumpia wrappers), head for eskinitas near the University of Saint La Salle along La Salle Avenue, Bacolod City. There at around 4 in the afternoon onwards, you’re sure to find a handful of food carts and hawkers vending kwek-kwek and siomai among others, as well as students who frequent them for an affordable after-class snack.
If after partaking some bite-sized portions you’re still looking for a more filling meal, your best bet is either a seafood binge at Pala-Pala or a generous bowl of cansi from one of the city’s famous kansi houses.
To satisfy a hankering for grilled squid or buttered shrimps and scallops go to Old Pala-Pala along San Juan Street corner North Capitol Road, where a string of “tulahans” double as both wet markets and paluto cafeterias. Here you can shop for fresh seafood like bulgan, tanigue, and cuttlefish, among others, and have them cooked depending on your preference – maybe grilled, or as sinigang, or maybe even fried.
If greasy spoon restos are more your liking, head to one of Bacolod’s celebrated cansi houses. The cousin of Luzon’s bulalo, cansi is tender beef shank in bone broth soured by native batwan. Not for the faint of heart, premium cansi typically includes a spoonful of “butter of the gods” bone marrow still intact. The Bacolodnon favorite is Sharyn’s Cansi House at Narra Avenue, eat at your own risk of altapresyon.
Time for dessert! It’s no understatement when Bacolod City is endearingly called “sugarlandia” – after all, the city is the central district of Negros Occidental, the country’s sugarbowl, yielding about 60 percent of the Philippines’ sugar production every year.
The province is known for its myriad sweet surprises, but nothing is more quintessentially Negrense than the humble piaya – a flaky muscovado-filled flatbread. And when it comes to this Bacolodnon treat, Bailon’s is an institution, its original store still standing along San Sebastian St.
Famous for their perfectly-toasted and crispy piayas, foodies can savor the unique opportunity to enjoy the dessert freshly-made and hot from the griddle when they visit Bailon’s store during certain times of the day. Topped with sesame seeds, and boasting an ample filling of raw sugar, it has charmed both locals and tourists alike, all craving more of their delectable goodness./PN