It is my second time in Polomolok in two years, my fourth visit to General Santos City, and it is not surprising to eat in the same place twice even if you are in a place only for two days. Nicky Matti, our chairman in PCB, suggested a popular chicken house named Tanoksz . . . yes . . . it’s spelled that way, don’t ask me why.
Tanoksz has brought a Pampango recipe for grilled chicken, which my Pampango friend said is “native vinegar, lots of garlic and just some salt and pepper,” and it sure is a hit.
It is made from marinated broiler-size chickens (less than a kilo so they are still tender), slowly grilled to perfection and served with hot steaming rice that’s freshly milled. There is a secret sawsawan (sauce), which you can pour over the rice (it is not oily and different from the Bacolod-style annatto oil) and make it a dipping sauce for every bite or morsel of the hot grilled chicken. I prefer the dark meat over the white as it is juicier.
The best surprise, and this is free, take note: organic bananas and fresh papayas are served as dessert or as appetizer, whichever way you look at it. It is FREE! Where in Manila will you find a treat like that? I have not found any such place yet.
The organic bananas come from the lot that is exported to Japan and the extras are taken by Tankosz. They are the Bungulan variety, organic with certification too. The papayas are export-quality of the solo variety.
For less than P60 per piece of chicken, and different prices for the special parts like chicken liver, heart (ouch!), gizzards and a cup of hot rice, it is the best “slow food” meal in these parts. It was so good the first time, we voted unanimously to go there again the next day—our last day in South Cotabato. I hear they have branches in Gen San too but the Polomolok one, to me, is a great experience.
Whenever I travel around the country, I like to eat what the locals prepare as opposed to eating yet another fast food chain’s lunch or a hotel’s salad with Thousand Island Dressing (God forbid they still make them). I continuously discover these “out of the way” places, far from the city, and far from anything similar to what I can find in Manila.
In Bohol, I found Tany’s . . . also chicken, which is fed a corn diet for three days to “cleanse” their insides, and then slowly boiled, then grilled. Located along the National Highway in Carmen—I hope they were spared by the recent earthquake.
Tany’s also served organic rice with the chicken, a plus for the diners at no extra cost.
They also have vegetables and a mean sinigang made with what else? Chicken, too! Well, at least you know the chickens have been given “colonics” before being committed.
As I talk about pleasant organic sources in different parts of the country, I also lament the “old and tired” menus of many hotels. I stayed in a hotel in Davao that still serves white toast, white sugar and white rice. NO other choices.
Many hotels still serve the usual fare—hotdog sandwich, tuna sandwich, with not a hint of creativity from even just a fresh culinary graduate or an experienced cook or kusinero. Same meals, day in and day out.
Then there are the hidden secrets. In Legaspi City, besides the Iking’s (see my column last December 1), there are the Glenda’s. Glenda goes to the seaport everyday and buys only what is fresh. She makes brown rice wrapped in banana leaves, prepares lato or seaweeds with fresh fish cooked in coconut milk and other Bicol specialties.
In Palawan, a hotel serves their native marinated parrot fish called “lamayo” with fried rice and eggs and good coffee. Coffee, in many hotels and restaurants in the country, is a subject for yet another column.
The fast food outlets are for the natives because they may be tired of their usual fare. But we tourists desire only the best local cuisine, made from heirloom recipes, handed down from one generation to the next. Fresh and local are the keys to good food when we go out of town.
In Nueva Vizcaya, I remember stopping at a roadside carinderia and the pinakbet was being prepared right before my eyes, the cook slicing the ingredients one vegetable at a time and was waiting to cook it with native bagoong. Yum.
When you venture out of the city, give local food a break. After all, December 10 is Terra Madre Day. Eat local. Eat slow. Eat well.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium and Centris malls. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter:Chitjuan , Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.