It's always exciting for me to discover gems of good eating when I travel around the Philippines. Instead of playing it safe in fast food chains, I would rather take my chances on the unheard of and the untried.
Just last week, we spent a long week-end in Bohol and right at the start -- unearthed this local and popular eatery called Singuba ni Abdul Chicken Ati Atihan.
We got to the restaurant well before noon so there were plenty of tables to choose from. The decor is definitely family friendly with wooden tables and benches that are easy to pull together, perfect for large groups. There is no air-conditioning but the open set up allows free flowing breezes through. Lots of ceiling fans help keep the air cool and also, keep you from smelling like chicken inasal!
The place is also very clean and well maintained.
At the entrance is this charcoal open grill where skewers of marinated chicken inasal are being readied for the influx of the lunchtime crowd.
This is the reason why it's called "chicken ati-atihan". The slogan proudly declares "mapapasayaw ka sa sarap" or "so delicious, it will make you dance". Referring of course to the local Visayan festival ati atihan where revellers dance in the streets.
Our fish tinola was a good generous serving and refreshingly tart and gingery. One order was big enough for all six of us to enjoy.
It wasn't anyone's birthday but I invariably order pancit bihon guisado. For me, a good cook will always know how to serve good pancit. Sinugba ni Abdul served a more than decent version -- the noodles were neither oily nor dry but well cooked and tasty. Like the tinola, it was a generous serving and we had to take the rest of it in a bag "for later".
My son ordered his favourite "pecho with garlic rice". According to him, it was far better than the usual inasal available in Manila - marinated with the right blend of sinamak or native coconut vinegar and other seasonings like lemongrass, ginger and black pepper, it was served hot off the grill, fragrant and juicy. Like a popular nationwide chicken chain, the inasal comes with unlimited rice.
To round off our orders, we also had a fresh slice of tanigue which was perfectly grilled and a hot plate of sizzling stuffed squid.
Every dish we ordered at Sinugba ni Abdul was good, every thing was delicious. Satisfied and full from a delicious lunch, we were now ready to discover the other wonders of Bohol!