The morning of our third day in Bacolod started late. We all overslept hoping to fully digest the previous night’s dinner while dreaming of more good food. We didn’t bother going down in time for the hotel’s buffet breakfast (it was terrible). Instead, we rummaged through our fridge for leftovers. We still had bread from the Negros Museum Cafe. We had cakes and pastries from Cafe Bob’s. And we had Ritz crackers and cream cheese dip from the previous day’s grocery trip. I had coffee sent up to the room and breakfast was done. It was around 10.30 a.m. and… what’s the use of eating too much leftovers for breakfast when we were raring to go out and enjoy more of Bacolod’s delicious food?
We watched cartoons for a while, showered, one after the other, and discussed where we were having our late lunch. Alex was drying her hair with a towel when her phone rang. It was her Bacolod-born-and-raised classmate from college, Clair. She was coming over and taking us out to lunch. That saved us from racking our brains some more trying to decide where to have lunch. If it were up to Alex, I swear she would have chosen Cafe Bob’s again.
Half an hour later, we were walking on the parking lot toward Clair’s SUV. She drove without telling us where we were going for lunch. Tucked behind the Bacolod City Hall is a small restaurant that, without the insight of the local, we would never have found. The place is called Krabby Fatty (yes, the owners are Sponge Bob Squarepants fans) and the ribs were fantastic — so tender with just the right amount of fat interspersed between layers of juicy meat.
I don’t normally have milkshake with ribs and rice but the owner said the milkshakes were among their bestsellers. I couldn’t pass up on that. The Black Forest milkshake with a touch of rum was especially good, he said. He had me at rum. And, oh my goodness, I don’t think I had milkshake that good before.
Krabby Fatty’s is owned by a boyfriend-girlfriend team who, before their venture into the food industry, were special education teachers. Nice move, Krabby Fatty owners, because the food is great and the prices are so friendly that I’m sure the food will attract customers from every economic stratum.
From Krabby Fatty, we went to Palmas del Mar where my entire afternoon felt like I was living out a scene from Mamma Mia!
Bob Restaurant’s 50th Anniversary
The day before I flew to Bacolod, I was making a list of restaurants where I wanted to take Alex. I came across the announcement that Bob’s Restaurant would be celebrating its 50th anniversary during the weekend, I figured it would be full to the rafters so I crossed it out of my list. While we were at Palmas del Mar, I got a call from Gary asking what our plans were for dinner. None yet, I replied. Let’s go to Bob’s 50th anniversary, he said, and we should bring Clair too who, it turned out, was a (grade school?) classmate of Gary’s daughter. Oh, what a small world!
The 50th anniversary buffet at Bob’s Restaurant is now a blur of sate babi, lechon, kare-kare, dessert… The sate babi, Gary said, was what transformed Bob’s from a small eatery into the institution that it is today. Decades ago, two sticks of sate babi and rice was a student meal, and Bacolod apparently fell in love with it. I could understand why. The boldly seasoned tender meat in bamboo skewers was addictive. I think I had six of them.
There were a lot of people at Bob’s that night and Bacolod’s crème de la crème was in full attendance. I spotted Peque Gallaga who looked less harassed than he did when I saw him in the audience of Carrie, the musical. It felt strange to be seated at a table in a room reserved for “RELATIVES” when we didn’t know a soul in Bacolod except Gary and his family, and Clair. But Gary and his wife, Isabel, knew almost everyone and it was comforting that we were at Bob’s 50th anniversary as their guests. It was quite an experience seeing Bacolod gather together for a special occasion. There was so much food and everything was so good.
Satiated, we were standing in front of Bob’s smoking when Isabel asked if we had tried the puff pastries at Bob’s bakery. The savory varieties, especially the one with burger filling was truly good, she said. Having heard that, Alex took my hand and pulled me inside the bakery. Naturally, she chose the one with the burger. Not that we were able to eat what we bought from Bob’s that night. We ate them all the next morning. Even without reheating, they were delicious.
Last year, the only time we went to Pendy’s we bought pastries and sweet snacks. It was around 4.00 p.m., a blisteringly hot summer day, and we had just done the Negros Museum tour. We passed by Pendy’s for munchies and for ice cold water. I spied cakes shaped as half circles covered with a soft custard. Half-moon cakes, they were called and a specialty of Pendy’s. But much as I wanted to try one, I was too full and my taste buds don’t always function correctly in extreme heat. So, I passed up on the half-moon cakes.
Fast forward to a year later. On our last day in Bacolod, we were back at Pendy’s — this time, not only to shop for pastries and sweet snacks but also to sit down for lunch. We ordered a lot of dishes, some we shared, other’s we didn’t, but two items stood out.
First, the batchon. I wasn’t sure what it was, Gary chuckled and said I should try it. I did. Sure, La Paz batchoy is good. But batchon — batchoy with lechon — is… Oh my goodness, the amount of chicharon floating on top of the bowl of noodle soup was insane! I dug in with my fork, fished out pieces of lechon between the noodles, and… Let’s just say I could have eaten just the batchon and gone straight for dessert, and I would have been content.
But there were other dishes, there was a succulent meat dish that I can’t recall the name and I ate some more. I didn’t think there was any space left in my digestive system for dessert but I wasn’t going to pass up on the half-moon cake again. I ordered.
Alex and I shared the half-moon cake and we did quite a duet with our ooohs and aaaahs. I should have ordered a box and brought it home. Or, perhaps, what I really mean is that I should have wrapped Bacolod neatly to bring home. The yema cakes that had been sprouting all over Metro Manila the past couple of years are obviously attempts to reproduce Pendy’s half-moon cakes in larger sizes.
The last meal we had before our evening flight was at a restaurant in the newly-opened mall at Ayala Northpoint just outside Bacolod. I forgot the restaurant’s name but they had “squid carbonara” (squid served with carbonara sauce — no pasta) that Alex loved. They also had char-grilled bulalo, a dish that, to my mind, is something that everyone should experience at least once in his lifetime.
Hasta las vista, Bacolod. Until next time.