Sunday, 23 December 2012

Island Eating: Silay City's El Ideal Restaurant!

 When I was a kid I remember reading a feature of Silay City in Reader's Digest describing this city as the Paris of Negros because of its numerous artists and artisans. But what Reader's Digest failed to mention was that Silay City is also a haven of native Negrense delicacies which everyone loves until today. Well, I stopped reading Reader's Digest, but I haven't stopped craving for these delicacies. 
                    (That's my favorite salab - the brownish delicacy 
      wrapped in plastic. Photo taken on my previous visit.)
           (Bitso-bitso is another favorite - cruller made of
            ground sticky rice and brown-sugar coating.)

Growing up in Negros Island in the Philippines, I remember an old lady vendor from Silay City, whom we called Tia Bodok. During the week, she would travel from Silay City and roam around my hometown, Victorias City, selling native delicacies. My two favorites from her wide basket were salab and dulce gatas! Salab is like a fried pancake made with coconut strips, while dulce gatas (also known as dulce de leche) is a very sweet dessert made from fresh carabao's milk. She would walk throughout the morning carrying her wide basket on her head, balancing it like a pro. By noon, all her goodies would have been all sold out, and she would go back home to Silay City.
 But now, Tia Bodok is no longer around, and I miss all the salab and dulce gatas. Luckily, there are some shops which still sell dulce gatas, but I hardly had seen one selling salab, until I dropped by one time at El Ideal in Silay City!
                                      (Cassave cake and buko pie, too!)
It's not just a store where you can buy all those barquillos, puto and other baked goodies to bring home. It is also a small restaurant where you can enjoy salab, fresh lumpia and bitso-bitso sitting down!
Last year, on my way to Manila, I dropped by El Ideal to get some salab and ate one inside the pre-departure area of Bacolod-Silay Airport, and another one in the plane! It was the best domestic in-flight meal I ever had! Ha-ha-ha!
                                                                (Ube-flavored puto!)
So, today, even if it was already late in the afternoon, I dropped by El Ideal to get some salab, but unfortunately, wala na! Waaah! Salab was all sold out for the day!
But I cried not! There will be salab tomorrow and the next day...and the next! And perhaps, when I drop by again this week, I would finally get some while I am here. 
                                         (They also have sandwiches!)
And when that moment comes, I will offer the first bite to Tia Bodok, wherever she may be. So, thank you, El Ideal, for letting me enjoy all those memories again of Tia Bodok and her salab.
El Ideal is just next to the Silay City plaza, just next to the intersection of the road going to the Silay-Bacolod Airport. So, if you happen to land at that airport, or if you're catching a flight, you can always swing by El Ideal. Those yummy snacks and delicacies are just a few minutes away! :-)


  1. ah so that fried butong thingy is called salab, among my favorites together with bicho-bicho, lubid-lubid, masa podrida. one of my feel good memories is making a side trip from school (sometimes lang when just got our allowance hehehe) to el ideal for a treat of ice cream and chicken sandwich (thick cold chicken shreds and not-yet-melted butter) or the ever-fluffy angel cake.

    1. I hope you're able to enjoy your childhood favorites when you come home soon.