Aside from it being known as “City of Smiles”, Bacolod is also popular for its “to die for” cuisines. This charming city which was once the main supplier of sugar around the world has a multitude of restaurants to cater to every Tom, Dick and Harry who has, either a limited or limitless budget. For now, let’s take a look at this quaint, unpretentious eatery which is highly recommendable to any first time Bacolod visitor. This is very timely because MassKara Festival is just around the corner.
Address: #12 Street, Gatuslao, Bacolod City, Philippines
Restaurant Hours: 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM (Lunch), 5:00 PM – 10:30 PM (Dinner)
Contact No: +63 920 439 2581
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DiotaysEatery/
We asked the Front Desk staff of the hotel where we were staying as to where we could eat “delicious Bacolod seafood cuisine where we could eat our hearts out BUT reasonably priced”. The staff was unanimous in saying “try Diotay’s”. So we took a cab, told the driver to take us to “Diotay’s” and asked again if it was any good and the reply was “if you really want to eat with gusto, yes, Diotay’s is the place”.
We were brought to this place where I immediately felt that I was in for an “eating challenge”. When we arrived, the place was packed with diners. They have two sections for you to choose from: a non air conditioned area (which is bigger) and an air conditioned room where they will add an extra 10% to your bill. We chose the air conditioned room because we knew we will be in “for a (culinary) fight”!
Diotay’s is similar to the “dampa” or “paluto” style restaurants in the Metro where you will choose first the ingredients you like then tell the guy handling the goods how you want it cooked. The array of seafood is unbelievable: large red snappers, grouper (lapu-lapu), shrimps, prawns, squid, cuttlefish, scallops, lobsters, sea crabs, mud crabs (alimango), tuna, blue marlin, different kinds of shell fish, etc are yours for the picking.
Fresh fishes ready for cooking.
There was also “Lagsang” a shellfish which was humongous in size (much bigger than a dinner plate) which could be grilled and dipped in “sinamak” (which is featured further below).
We ordered the usual “Inihaw na Baboy” (grilled pork) to see how different it is from the rest. It turned out to be the usual inihaw but, it differs from your usual inihaw because when you dip it in “sinamak”, that’s where the flavors come alive. The meat though was a bit rubbery. It may have stayed at the grill longer than it’s supposed to.
This is the “sinamak” – a dipping sauce made of vinegar spiced with chilli (siling labuyo), ginger (luya), garlic (bawang), peppercorn (paminta) and red onion (shallots). With all these spices infused in the vinegar, you can already imagine the wonders it can do to wake up the flavor of any dish. If you want to make your own “sinamak”, here are the ingredients that you have to mix in a bottle:
- 3 cups vinegar (white, cane, or coconut)
- 1 cup siling labuyo (fresh or dried)
- 3 tbs ginger, sliced.
- 1 head garlic, peeled.
- 3 tsps whole peppercorns.
- 1 red onion, sliced.
Soaked in their secret marinade, grilled to perfection then sprinkled with roasted garlic, you just know that this all-time Filipino favorite is a winner. Again, when the “Inihaw na Tuna” (Grilled Tuna) is dipped in sinamak, it becomes much more savory.
The “Sinigang na Tuna“ was served piping hot when brought to our table. Although its aroma whet our appetite immediately, the soup did not look appetizing…..BUT WAIT!
When our ladle began scooping the soup…a bounty of vegetables, spices and chunks of tuna meat came into view. It was absolutely a “wow” moment for us. How did it taste? It’s sourness was just right, the spice was not overwhelming and the veggies were not soggy and the tuna meat was just right. To those who don’t have problems with their health, a few drops of fish sauce (“patis”) can do but for us, the mixture was fine. Really fine.
Pinoys eat “pulutan” like it is a viand for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and me and my friends are no exception. We saw the fresh squid earlier and we had it cooked “Calamares” style (dipped in a batter and deep fried). The real challenge in cooking squid is how to prevent it from having a bubble gum consistency. Diotay’s version is…..yes, perfection! While the batter turned out to be crispy, the squid meat inside remained tender. The sauce though was…well…hmmm…it looked like and tasted like a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise. I personally didn’t dip my calamares on the sauce because the flavor could “stand alone” – no need for any dip/sauce.
As you leave the resto, bottles of “sinamak” are displayed on a table. The tall bottle (which was once “Emperador Brandy”) sells for PHP 150 while the smaller one (which was once “Tanduay Rhum”) is priced at PHP 100 each.
How about the service? Hmmm…If I go to places like this, I have already conditioned myself not to expect anything so that I won’t get disappointed. Service in restaurants like this suffers because there are just so many diners and it could really be tiresome for the servers. In this case however, I was happy with the service they gave us. No frills. You may have to wait for a teeny bit of a while or need to raise your arm a bit higher than usual when you want to call a waiter BUT, it’s doesn’t reach a point where you feel invisible. As a matter of fact, they even helped us get a cab by calling the cab company and in less than five minutes, the cab was there to pick us up. Nice touch.
Were we satisfied? Yes. Will we recommend? Yes – crossing our fingers though that you too, like us and the others who have dined there will have an OK experience too.