When you think of Bacolod, an integration of different cultural elements come to mind. The nostalgic architecture of old buildings, the Masskara festival, chicken inasal, and the sugarcane fields that line the outskirts of the city. While we can all proudly claim of our impeccable hospitality as Filipinos, Bacolod has somehow gained the title, “The City of Smiles”. The label is attributed to the general friendliness of its people. But what makes citizens of Bacolod seem so happy? A good guess is their food.

When you have access to the following dishes on a daily basis, surely it can lift your mood on a bad day. In this new edition of Hungry Caveman, check out the food items we think you dudes should make a point to try when you visit:

1. Aida’s Inasal

Photo courtesy of maayalegaspi.com

Inasal might as well be Bacolod’s national dish, if it was a country. It’s basically chicken marinated in spices, including achuete, which gives it its distinct orange tint. It is then grilled over charcoal, and served with garlic rice and a dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi and crushed chili. The gizzard, liver and tail of the chicken are also available options.

2. Cansi at Sharyn’s Cansi House

Photo courtesy of @jettorias on Instagram

Are you a fan of both nilaga and sinigang? You are in luck, because in Bacolod, there is a conflation of the two household dishes at Sharyn’s Cansi House since 1985. It may look like it’s not for the faint of heart, but the meat falling off the bone, and the sour and mildly spicy soup certainly hits home.

3. Valladolid Diwal Clams

Photo courtesy of Neil Bustamante

Diwal, in the local language, translates into “to stick one’s tongue out”. Which is what these clams look like, as the foot protrudes outside the shell. They’re pretty hard to come by, usually found along the coastal road on Valladolid heading towards Pontevedra, where people have to dive underwater to obtain them.

4. Pendy’s Napoleones

Photo courtesy of whatmaryloves.com

What’s very interesting about the Napoleones is its homage to European-style pastries. It is puff pastry with a custard cream filling, topped with sugar glaze, and Pendys sells one of the best in the city. A piece is not enough for anyone with a sweet tooth, so watch out if you find yourself taking another bite after downing three of them in the past five minutes.

5. Bongbong’s Piaya

Piaya is a pie with a flaky, bland crust, made in the fashion of flat breads. Its filling is nothing but pure muscovado sugar and glucose syrup, giving it that rich texture. Bongbong’s is a very familiar brand among locals, and some would attest that it has the best flavor.

6. Bob’s Fruit Punch

Bob’s is known to all locals to be a pioneer in bringing western cuisine into the area since 1965. The Fruit Punch, however, has stood out as one of its most famous menu items. Chunks of fruit, coconut flesh and coconut heart of palm are mixed together with a bright red fruit juice. It’s just a drink, but it’s enough to drive or commute across town for.

7. Cake Castle Bacolod Brazo de Mercedes

Photo courtesy of Cake Castle

While Brazo de Mercedes is known all over the Philippines, Cake Castle Bacolod’s version stands out. Once you try it, the original and ube flavors, it’ll set the gold standard and you wont go back. A spoonful melts in your mouth, it almost requires no effort.

These are just some of the food items that we think is essential for any trip to Bacolod, especially since most of them are hard to find, or at least can’t be replicated properly once you leave the city. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Header photo courtesy of Booming Bacolod

Cover photo courtesy of Ben Keene