A restaurant with a view

Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebuano culinary scene has its latest addition – the Balay sa Busay. The place is located on the road leading to the top of Busay Hills.

Recently, the restaurant, represented by Golden Cowrie Franchising Inc.’s Kenneth Kokseng and R&D and commissary manager Kristine Kokseng, played host to members of the local press and online media to sample the restaurant’s version of modern Filipino cuisine, featuring home-cooking with Cebuano flair.

The first dish that caught my eye was the “Paboritong Sisig ni Tatay” served on a plate shaped like a spade. I had encountered this iconic dish of Pampanga some 50 years ago in Angeles City. It was in a carenderia frequented by tricycle and jeepney drivers where good food and affordable prices met. There were two versions of the “Sisig” there, regular and special (with egg added). The version in the Balay was similar to the special version with a twist – crispy cracklings were added which made the dish even tastier.

The Balay also served us “Pancit-Batil-Patong,” a noodle dish with toppings and a sauce, popular in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Beef stock was used to make the sauce (the original recipe would use carabeef), which was gradually poured over the noodles while you are eating it. It tasted like the regular “Pancit Canton” but the sauce makes the flavor meatier.

“Adobong Binisaya ni Bebe” is an adobo (marinate in vinegar, salt, spices) that is different from its Luzon counterparts because it has no sauce. It is also called “Adobong Pinau-ga” and looks like the Lechon Kawali, and the Balay version was crispy and delicious.

“Chickenillo” is a tender roast chicken and it is the Balay’s take on the “Cochinillo de Segovia” (roast suckling pig), so tender that a ‘platito’ may be used to slice it.

A long time ago, I tried cooking roast chicken, rubbing the inside and skin with salt, then stuffing it with slices of potatoes. It was cooked in a turbo broiler.  It was mouth-watering and I felt good until I saw the, excuse me, my electric bill!

The Lechon Tinola is an alternative to cooking excess Lechon meat instead of preparing the usual Lechon Paksiw. The regular Tinola uses chicken, onions, ginger, green papaya/sayote and malunggay (moringa) leaves. Only the chicken is replaced in the Balay version and the slice of lechon flavors the soup.

“Hamonada sa Among Bukid” brings back memories of a fiesta in Talamban some three decades ago, where I watched a huge whole ham of the pig marinated and cooked in sweet pineapple sauce over wood fire. I do not like the use of pineapple in cooking because the papain (enzyme) in it acts too quickly on the protein, reducing the savory taste of meat that comes out in slow cooking. Maybe the wood smoke added to the taste of the Talamban “Hamonada,” but it was exceptionally delicious – and the Balay version awakened my memories of it.

Dessert served was “Banana Cue ala Mode,” slices of sugar-coated cardaba banana (Saba) topped with vanilla ice cream. Nice!

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