No-frills dining at Bacolod City's Old Pala-pala

Dining at Bacolod's Old Pala-pala

I had my first taste of SU-TU-KIL in Mactan Island in Cebu in the mid-1990s. Back then it was just near the Lapu-lapu's monument. I just don't know if it has transferred since I have not gone to Cebu for years. SU-TU-KIL is an acronym for sugba (grilled), tula (tinola), and kinilaw or kilaw (fresh fish fillet salad) is quite popular among the island provinces of the Visayas and even in Mindanao. Not only is it cheap but it gives you a taste of home for its straightforward and uncomplicated dining experience.

Negrenses are known for their culinary prowess, not mentioning their time-honored hospitality. They love to eat home-cooked and cheap meals, but not necessarily bad in taste, which is very typical of SU-TU-KILs or locally known as tulahan.  Dining in tulahan is just the kind of gastronomic experience you would look for when you are busy and have no time to cook at home (straight from the market to the kitchen), and even more perfect to treat their visitors from out of town, like us, who want to have a taste of fresh seafood.  

Old Pala-pala got its name literally from pala (shovel), which is typically used for shoveling [small] fishes at the fish port or fish market like Old Pala-pala. It is a wholesale market but now allows retail due to the SU-TU-KIL or tulahan restaurants that have mushroomed in the area around the market.

Old Pala-pala is just a stone's throw away from Negros Occidental capital grounds.  There is New Pala-pala in downtown Bacolod City, but it is more contemporary and fashionable, with better ambiance, with more sophisticated cooking, but more expensive.

So our friends treated us to dinner during our last night in Bacolod. First, we had to buy from the seafood market.

One should have the knack to haggle with the prices.  I just took some shots and let our hosts take care of that.

I was in awe of the array of fishes on sale--from the lowly but relatively expensive and delicious bisugo to the more expensive lapu-lapu as big as a seven-month-old baby! And they also sell a more than a meter-long barracuda. I could not help, but my camera just clicked away to get some "souvenir" photos of these fishes. I think our hosts bought bisugo, maya-maya, and shrimps (sugpo), and ripe mangoes for dessert.

Old Palapala2
Dalagang Bukid (Top-left), Squid (Top-right), Huge lapu-lapu (bottom-left), and an array of fishes (bottom-right).

Then we went to Hyksos Tulahan ( advertisement!) to have the seafood cooked.  By the way, they call SUTUKIL another term: Tulahan (which is a comes from "Tula" of SU-"TU"-KIL). I inquired why they chose Hyksos.  Our host said that they had been a regular customer of this tulahan, and they really cook good food here.  I asked no further questions.  Local hosts know best, so they say.

Hyksos Tulahan

Hyksos is a just a plain and simple, airy and clean carinderia.  We arrived early so we had no problems with our long table just like the one in the picture below.  In no time, while we were waiting for our food to be cooked, the place was already full.  So if you want to have a comfortable seating location, be there early.

Dining area.

And these are what we had for dinner:

Tulang Maya-maya, which is similar to sinigang.

Plain and simple but sweet and juicy grilled bisugo.

Shrimp with lemon and oyster sauce. This knocked me out.

Plus, extra rice!  Although I am allergic to shrimps (and even crabs), I did not let the shrimp pass.  It was too delicious to skip.

Kaon na!

More photos HERE.

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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.


lakwatsera de primera said...

Nothing beats cheap and fresh seafood cooked just the way you like it. (This is what I miss right now )

Admin/Author said...

I agree claire. ibang klase pag lutong bahay.

Batang Lakwatsero said...

wahaha.. nagugutom akooo! makapunta nga sa dampa tomorrow:)

Aleah said...

I went there before and I can't believe how cheap the seafood was! I ate so much talaba!!!

Admin/Author said...

yeah. relatively cheap and fresh too...too bad my stomach is just not fit for oysters...hehe

thanks for the visit!

Earl (Suroy Pilipinas) said...

Mapapakain ako sa post na ito...

Admin/Author said...

@Earl, talaga naman! Thanks!

juanderfulpinoy said...

wow nakakagutom sobra

journeyingjames said...

babalik-balikan mo ito sa sarap!
fave ko ito sa lahat ng mga restau sa pinas

Admin/Author said...

Oo naman, James. If I have the chance to go back to bacolod, this, definitely, will not be missed!