Craving for Silay delicacies? Find all of these–from piaya, inasal, and lumpia ubod, to pancit molo, batchoy, guapple pie, and pili squares–in one place!
Silay City is not just the land of wealthy hacienderos, it is also rich in history and heirloom recipes that have withstood the test of time and have become the present generation’s pride and legacy.
KAON TA! Silay Food Festival is a two-day celebration held on every Cinco de Noviembre Indepence Day Celebration at Balay Negrense Museum, the heritage house constructed by sugar baron Don Victor Fernandez Gaston. This elegant structure also serves as an iconic heritage marker for the city. The Festival will happen on November 4-5, 2017 and KAON TA! Restaurants from all over Silay will be putting up booths on the Balay Negrense grounds and serving their most popular dishes. The best part is when you land at Bacolod-Silay Airport, you’re just minutes away from a gastronomic journey showcasing the best of Silay City. Here’s our food guide to what to eat in Silay and the KAON TA! Festival… Bacolod Series in Our Awesome Planet: • BACOLOD FOOD TRIP: Eat Like a Local in Bacolod! • MASSKARA: Our Awesome Guide to Bacolod’s MassKara Festival! • SILAY FOOD GUIDE: What to Eat in Silay & KAON TA! Food Festival? • LAKAWON: Negros’ Secret Paradise Retreat & TawHai Floating Bar! • 10 Awesome Places to Visit Around Bacolod! • White Hotel vs. Hometown: The Old and New Backpacker Hotels in Bacolod City! • BACOLOD PASALUBONG: What to Bring Back Home from Bacolod? #1 SINDA BELLEZA’S LUMPIA For 50 years, Roslinda Belleza has been making fresh lumpia. A recipe that was passed down by her mother with a few renditions of her own, it is arguably the best fresh lumpia ubod in Silay. Fresh Lumpia Ubod (₱27/piece) Lumpia ubod usually consists of young coconut palm, pork, shrimp, and chives. But instead of chives, Aling Belleza uses cabbage. What makes her lumpia unique are the crunchy chicharron bits and overall savory flavor. A must-try! You can find her lumpia at the central market or order directly from her home. Sinda Belleza Lumpia Sto Nino Ville Subdivision, Silay City Landline: +63 34-495-2855 #2 GERMAN LOCSIN UNSON HERITAGE HOUSE The best breakfast in town can be found in a local’s home. They serve Ilonggo and Spanish breakfast dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation. The German Locsin Unson Heritage House was built in 1938 by Unson and his wife, which was recently converted into a four-bedroom bed and breakfast by their daughters. The rooms are amazing and make you feel like you’re still living in the 1930’s (watch out for my upcoming review of our B&B experience in my next article). Among my favorite dishes here is the Tsokolate Platter that comes with a piping hot cup of Spanish chocolate paired with crunchy pinipig (toasted glutinous rice), sweet mangoes, ibus (sticky rice in coconut milk), and suman (sweetend sticky rice) sprinkled with muscavado sugar! For something heavy, order the Adobo Flakes and Chorizo Pudpud Lola’s breakfast set that comes with either brewed coffee, tea, or calamansi juice. Both are excellent! But for the Kaon Ta! Silay Food Festival, Auntie Maria Christina Unson Lacson will be serving her famous Diablo. It’s a regular Relyeno made special with her secret sauce that’s hot, hot, hot! German Locsin Unson Heritage House No. 5 Zamora Street, Silay City Landline: +63 34 432-2943 Facebook: German-Locsin-Unson-Heritage-House #3 PADRE GIGI GASTON’S MILYONARYO ADOBO Adobo Milynorayo has an intriguing name. Could it be because it was prepared by a millionaire or is it because of the richness of taste that earned this adobo its title? Taste a Negrense family recipe with Padre Gigi’s version of adobo. It’s your regular adobo but cooked with a generous amount of garlic and rich flavors that’ll make you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot! The 1933 Hacienda Santa Rosalia is among the few remaining mansions located in the middle of sugarcane fields north of Silay despite the WWII bombings. Fun Fact: Visitations are currently not allowed at the mansion as it is still the present residential home of the Gaston family. Make sure to find Padre Gigi Gaston’s Adobo Milynorayo at the Kaon Ta! Festival. #4 MARIEL’S BAKERY Mariel’s Bakery opened its doors in 1980 and has since been serving freshly baked bread with old favorites like cookies and Pan Americano buns. But their real specialty is the lubid-lubid. Lubid-lubid (₱60) Unlike regular lubid-lubid that’s too hard to chew, what makes Mariel’s version a hit is the way they prepare it, making it soft but also crunchy at the same time. Each piece is carefully handmade. I also love that it’s not nakakaumay. My favorite flavor is the cinnamon, but they also have the chili twist and the low sugar version for the older and diabetic crowd. A great idea for pasalubong. Mariel’s Bakery Gomez St, Silay City, 6116 Negros Occidental Landline: +63 34 495-3315 #5 EMMA LACSON DELICACIES Emma Lacson Delicacies has been there since 1925 and remains popular among Bacolod’s old families. Lumpia ubod, pili nut squares, and empanadas are among her bestsellers that we can’t get enough of. Nora Lacson says that her recipes were passed down by her great-grandmother (Emma Lacson) years ago. Her store is located in her home on the same street as El Ideal. Pili Square (₱300/half, ₱580/whole) The pili nut bars from Emma Lacson are definitely the best in Negros! They were so good that our teammate Dony finished half of the whole box! We like the chewy, buttery, moist texture and the generous amount of nuts in each bar. There’s also a flaky, thin crust at the bottom that we later found out was lumpia wrapper. The bite-size treat is a perfect gift and pasalubong give away. Empanada (₱38), Lumpia (₱38) They also have the very aromatic empanada made with ground pork, potato, onions, garbanzo, raisins, and egg. And of course, the fresh lumpia ubod that everyone’s been raving about. Emma Lacson’s Delicacies 120 Rizal Street, Silay City Landline: +63 34 495-5047 #6 EL IDEAL Did you know the oldest bakery in Silay is the only place in the Philippines that offers this yummy cinnamon guapple (guava) pie? El Ideal was established in the 1920’s thanks to two siblings from the Locsin family who are well known for their cooking and baking. Years ago, when the sugar industry went down, they began venturing in alternate crops, including guava, which gave birth to the idea of the Philippine’s version of the apple pie. Guapple Pie (₱45/slice, ₱320/whole pie) is to Silay as Apple Pie is to America. Baked with butter sugar and cinnamon Guapple Pie has a taste and texture similar to Apple but with a very distinct hint of tropical fruit. A must-try if you’re ever in Negros. Special Batchoy with Egg (₱98), Regular Batchoy (₱87) Why have La Paz Batchoy since it’s from Iloilo? Well, most of you don’t know this, but the prominent families from Silay mostly migrated from Iloilo and brought with them their heirloom recipes. I like El Ideal’s version of batchoy–it is less salty than the ones I’m used too. Among their other specialties are the goat’s milk barquillos, señorita, and bañadas. EL IDEAL 118 Rizal Street, 6116 Silay City Operating Hours: Mon-Sun 6:30 am-6:00 pm Phone: +63 34 495 4430 E-mail: email@example.com Facebook: EL-IDEAL-Bakery #7 CAFE 1925 Set outside the 1925 Ancestral Home of the Locsin’s is a mini cafe that boasts of international and Ilonggo comfort food. Owner Denise Gaston’s menu is a collection of her family’s old recipes mixed with her travels abroad. She started this restaurant to cater to tourists who are not accustomed to Filipino food and would love to try something more familiar. Pancit Molo (₱100) Among the raved about dishes is the pancit molo–a popular Ilonggo dish that originated in Molo, Iloilo. It’s a family recipe still cooked in Denise’s house. The soup dish is made of meat-filled dumplings with shredded chicken and a very savory, thick broth. Osso Buco (₱300) Osso Buco is Denise’s take on Italian dish using slow-cooked beef shank in a thick red sauce that’s rich in flavor. The best part about the dish is the soft and sweet bone marrow that you can just dig into with a spoon. The desserts are the best part of the meal. We loved the tsokolate tablea cake and the sunny wafer. Sunny Wafer (₱150) The Sunny Wafer is a must-try! It has a texture that’s a mix between sansrival and brazo that is chewy and crunchy at the same time. Tablea Chocolate Cake (₱120) Her take on the luscious chocolate cake using tablea chocolate. I like the bittersweet taste of the dark chocolate. Tip: All her cakes are non-dairy with no egg and butter. Cafe 1925 J.Pitong Ledesma St, Silay City Heritage Zone, Silay City Landline: +63 34 441-7249 #7 THE MANSION The Mansion is a concrete shell of an old house that was closed to ruin when Neil Solomon Locsin had an idea of renovation the 1920’s mansion into a bar and cafe to welcome tourists and locals. The most impressive thing about the house is the story behind the previous owner, Adela Ledesma (the only daughter of a wealthy sugar baron) and the intriguing reason why she had the second storey removed. The Mansion is filled with stories of love, hope, and despair that you’ll appreciate once you visit. Did you notice that the same sub-architectural details of the San Diego Pro-Cathedral are similar to the mansion? That’s because the house was built by Lucio Bernasconi, the same architect as the church. Though the bar and cafe mostly serves regular fare, the very tender pochero, a heritage dish from the Locsin family, is a true standout. It’s slow-cooked for four hours, making the dish very rich and the meat almost fall-off-the-bone. The Mansion (Open daily except Tuesdays) Calle Ledesma, Silay City Facebook: TheMansion6116 #8 BALARING FLOATING RESTAURANTS Balaring, a small barangay in Silay City, is known for its affordable seafood restaurants by the coast. We ate at Seaside Floating Restaurant, the first floating restaurant in the area. Talaba (₱60) For starters, get a bucket of Aklan oysters or talaba. Ilonggos prefer to pair them with their local vinegar, langgaw, often mixed with soy sauce and calamansi. Mixed Seafood (₱250) Their bestseller is the mixed seafood. It’s a combination of squid, fish, and shellfish bathing in the special sauce usually served on a sizzling plate. Other favorites are the adobong pusit, boneless bangus, and buttered shrimp. Seaside Floating Restaurant Balaring-Bongol Rd, Silay City Mobile: +63 947 958-8910 Facebook: SeasideFloatingRestaurant #9 SILAY’S PUBLIC MARKET Snacks and Kakanin. Early in the morning in Silay City’s public market, you’ll find tinderas selling local snacks and kakanin from lumpiang ubod, pangat, bayi-bayi, and piyaya, to suman, valencina, butchi, butong-butong, and kalamay-hati in cups. The market opens as early as 5am and closes in the afternoon. It’s a great place to buy a quick on-the-go and affordable snack. #10 CHICKEN HOUSE From Bacolod to Silay, chicken inasal is a must when visiting Negros! We dined at Chicken House, a local favorite known for their chicken inasal, spareribs, pork BBQ, and chicken skin. Inasal Chicken is first marinated with Sinamak (Negros vinegar), ginger, onions, garlic, and spices and basted with anato oil while grilled over an open flame. Inasal can be found throughout the Western Visayas Regions of the Philippines. We noticed this version of inasal has a very aromatic smell and it’s skin perfectly roasted to a crisp. Besides ordering their inasal, we never fail to order their juicy spareribs. Eat with your hands! Don’t forget to dip the chicken in their local vinegar and pour some cholesterol-laden chicken oil on your garlic rice for that complete experience! CHICKEN HOUSE Rizal St, Silay City, 6116 Negros Occidental Landline: +63 34 441-7741 #11 ANN CO CAKES Being the Sugar Capital of the Philippines, it’s no surprise that Silaynons & Bacolodnons love dessert. It is home to many pastry shops offering a wide variety of ridiculously affordable and mouthwatering cakes! Desserts are a must when visiting Negros! Watch out, Calea, because we think Ann Co’s cakes got even better! The baking business started in the 1960’s with recipes from Ann Co’s mom that Silaynons are all too familiar with, like her famed Mocha Sansrival. We love the Silay branch. It’s much bigger and is located just outside Ann’s House. Decorated with bright, colorful paintings from Charlie Co (her husband), the artsy cafe is just full of life. Avocado Cheesecake (₱80) Order their newest addition, the avocado cheesecake, which is to die for! (Seasonal) Frozen Brazo de Mercedez (₱80) What also won over our sweet tooth is Ann Co’s frozen Brazo de Mercedez. It is a frozen cake with layers of egg white, yummy yema filling, and sugary graham crackers on top. Mocha Sansrival (₱85) Their mocha sansrival is also good. I liked that it wasn’t too buttery and sweet for my taste. Ann Co Cakes Margarita’s Bldg., Rizal St, Brgy.Mambulac, Silay City, Negros Occidental Landline: +63 34 441-7196 #12 PUNONG GARY’S PLACE Bali, Thailand? Nope! Welcome to Punong Gary’s Place in Silay, Negros Occidental. Hidden among the tree groves and sugarcane fields of Negros is a Balinese-inspired dream retreat offering gourmet meals and an overnight staycation surrounded by breathtaking views. The resort is perfect for a date or special occasion. They offer a 5-course meal for P900 (dinner rate) or P750 (lunch rate) per person. Sample Menu Appetizer: Chicken Ala King Popover, Kang-kong Crisp, Taro Chips Salad: Tahini Salad Soup: Creamy Kalabasa Soup Mains (Choice of): Fish Hibachi with Citrus Ponzu, Grilled Fish in Lemon Caper Sauce, Ginataang Isda with Vegetable Fritters, Chicken with Bolognese Sauce, Slow Cooked Pork, Chicken Pesto Pasta, Creamy Seafood Pasta Dessert: ChocNut Souffle Our favorite is the refreshing Tahini Salad filled with watermelon and mangoes. For the mains the fish hibachi with citrus ponzu was delightful, and the slow cooked pork made a comforting meal with the tender juicy meat bathed in a sweet glaze. Punong Gary’s Place (Strictly by reservation only) Hacienda Tinihaban, Silay City Mobile: +63 917 327-1729 Website: www.punonggarysplace.com Facebook: punongsilay #13 CAFE VELO “Velo”, which means “Bicycle” in French, is an artsy cafe concept offering a nice cozy brunch place to have coffee and enjoy food, perfect after biking around Silay City. The Instagram-worthy cafe is filled with vintage bicycles on display, which is part of the collection of the owners. Their bestsellers include English Breakfast, BLT, Montecristo, Egg Sandwich Salad, Hazelnut Mocha, Frozen Hot Chocolate, Caramel Macchiato, and Ice Blended Mocha. Tip: Bike racks are provided outside for the bikers. Egg Salad Sandwich (₱185) I like the egg Salad Sandwich. The creamy filling gets a boost from plenty of crunch from the flaky croissant. The English Breakfast is also good too. Frozen Hot Chocolate (₱170) Creamy double chocolate flavor perfect for the summer heat. CAFE VELO J.Pitong Ledesma St, Silay City, 6116 Negros Occidental Facebook: CafeVeloPH #14 TITO CHUCK’S NATIVE RESTAURANT You’re already exploring a different place, so why not push yourself to try something new? You can eat exotic dishes like frogs, quails, tamilok (wood worms), and coconut batchoy. Did I mention, they all taste good too? Tito Chuck is known for serving exotic dishes inspired by his travels around the Philippines. Tamilok or Woodworms (₱160) His most famous dish is the tamilok–also known as woodworms–that thrive in mangroves. We tried the kinilaw version, which pleasantly tastes just like oysters. He also recommends the imbao, believed to be an aphrodisiac for men. Imbao–a large, fatty type of clam–is the pride of the Visayan region and is best eaten raw. It has a jelly-like texture.
I love this frog dish! It’s fried to a crisp and seasoned with generous amounts of garlic. One of their bestssellers, especially during the rainy season.
Batchoy sa Butong (₱100) I also love the Coconut Batchoy! It tastes just like regular batchoy, but made sweeter with the coconut juice. A must-try! Tip: He serves regular food too. Bestsellers include native chicken binakol, chicken wings, and sizzling mixed seafood. TITO CHUCK’S NATIVE RESTAURANT Freedom Blvd Silay City Landline: +63 34 714-9798 Facebook: Tito-Chucks-Native-Restaurant Final Thoughts I loved our food journey in Silay City. Even though I grew up and lived in Bacolod for years, I still have more to learn and discover about my neighboring city. Don’t miss the KAON TA! Silay Food Festival this coming first week of November! We can’t wait to return and try more yummy dishes! Bacolod Series in Our Awesome Planet: • BACOLOD FOOD TRIP: Eat Like a Local in Bacolod! • MASSKARA: Our Awesome Guide to Bacolod’s MassKara Festival! • SILAY FOOD GUIDE: What to Eat in Silay & KAON TA! Food Festival? • LAKAWON: Negros’ Secret Paradise Retreat & TawHai Floating Bar! • 10 Awesome Places to Visit Around Bacolod! • White Hotel vs. Hometown: The Old and New Backpacker Hotels in Bacolod City! • BACOLOD PASALUBONG: What to Bring Back Home from Bacolod? Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: We were media guests of all the establishments. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. Here are the other participants for the Kaon Ta! Silay Food Festival… OWA’S BALAY PANGAHAN Mari Stele Estrella started the restaurant for the love of panga and decided to build a specialty restaurant revolving around tuna jaw as the highlighted ingredient. Owa’s Balay Pangahan serves adobo panga, sinigang panga, siomai panga, and their bestseller, the grilled version. Grilled Tuna Jaw (₱190) Excellently grilled tuna jaw that comes with the savory peanut sauce and flavored vinegar. I love the outer char and juicy meat in the fish. Frozen Halo-halo It’s your regular halo-halo with kaong, ube, saging, langka, nata de coco, and ube wrapped in a lumpia wrapper then frozen for 4-6 hours. The frozen treat is then quickly fried and topped with ube ice cream. THIRDY’S CAFE & RESTAURANT Thirdy’s Cafe and Restaurant serves very affordable and delicious home recipes. Though the menu is made up of simple dishes like chop suey, bangus, and baby back ribs, it’s the cooking process that’s been practiced for generations here that make the cafe unique. Sizzling Boneless Bangus (₱120), Baby Back Ribs (₱90), Chopseuy (₱100), Sotanghon (₱P85) Their boneless bangus is my favorite. I like the marinade and perfectly cooked meat. They also serve pastries coming from different Silay bakers. TITA BETH’S Tita Beth has been serving Bacoleños her savory bilao of Pancit Malabon, oozing with special yellow Malabon sauce and topped with generous amounts of vegetables, seafood, sliced eggs, and chicharon bits. Pancit Malabon (solo ₱75, 15pax ₱600), Grilled Squid (₱125), Sizzling Bulalo (₱140) Our favorite on her menu is the grilled squid and bulalo steak bathing in gravy. A heavy and satisfying meal. For students, there are also affordable choices from backyard grown coffee beans to basic favorites like nacho fries & burgers. Find them at KKD (Kape sa Kilid Dalan).