10 Apr2014

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I hadn’t been back to Bohol in over 5 years, and had several things on my “to do list”. First and foremost was a meeting with our lawyer handling family related business matters, and since we arrived on the “fast ferry” from Cebu just after noon we decided to meet over lunch. We tried the #1 rated trip advisor restaurant in the city of Tagbilaran, a place called “Gerarda’s”. Our lawyer, a Tagbilaran native, who had never eaten at Gerarda’s, and was somewhat skeptical of the top ranking on trip advisor. I just wanted a decent Filipino meal in air-conditioned comfort to discuss business issues…

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Located in an ancestral home on a Tagbilaran side-street, the spacious main dining area with old style tables and chairs and air-conditioning is a pleasant setting. We quickly glanced through the menu and ordered five dishes for three people. The biggest hit for me, was the dish up top, a simple sauté of shrimps with kinampay or that mild colored ube special to the island of bohol. This had all the hallmarks of a stunningly good, but simple local dish. In fact, it was, along with the kinilaw, the only local dishes we had on the table. I ate practically the entire serving, only leaving a small taste for the others. :) We also ordered a seafood kare-kare that was pretty good, though the broth was perhaps just a tad on the watery side, lacking the oomph of a nice thick kare-kare, and perhaps relying on cornstarch to thicken the broth. It was well-priced, however, and didn’t scrimp on the alimasag, shrimp and squid. Actually, the prices on the menu looked shockingly low for a city-dweller like me, though portions for several dishes turned out to be quite modest in size.

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The oddest dish of the lunch was this dinakdakan, which the restaurant is known for it seems, though I think it is originally an Ilocano dish of grilled pork belly, here altered with the addition of what looked like thick coconut milk. But the consistency of the milk was odd, and perhaps it was mayonnaise with some coconut milk mixed in. I could see what they were trying to do, but this just wasn’t that appealing to me, and half the dish was left uneaten at the end of the meal.

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A traditionally made kinilaw, with large chunks of fish and lots of tomatoes and onions, was distinctive because of its use of bahalina, or slightly alcoholic coconut vinegar. Some folks may find this a bit off-puttingly sour in a sense, but this is how some terrific kinilaws are in fact made in Bohol and northern Mindanao. Now if only there was more fish in the dish.

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Finally, we had a dish of crispy (mini) beef tadjang that was good, and a nice foil for the sourness of the kinilaw. Five dishes with a platter of rice, a couple of soft drinks, and this lunch cost roughly PHP1300, or roughly PHP430 each. I would certainly eat there again, but I am not sure I would say it was the best restaurant in the city. For kinilaw, I longed for this dish of malasugi or swordfish we had once in a slightly dubious looking restaurant on stilts near the Tagbilaran pier, it was that much more memorable!

Gerarda’s
30 J.S. Torralba St.
Tagbilaran City 6300
Bohol

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Raine says:

    So that was kinampay up top. One glance at the picture made me crave for ginataang halo-halo with gabi bits. This sautee is probably akin to that which can be had in most Ongpin dives, featuring sliced gabi cakes with either pork or shrimp bits. Yum!

    Apr 10, 2014 | 4:26 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    I have to experiment with this dish, using either kinampay or the more commonly available ube.

    Apr 10, 2014 | 4:30 pm

     
  3. Footloose says:

    The first dish once done with your magisterial tweaking will definitely appeal to most Filipinos’ fondness for ubi. We are the “people who love purple.”

    I just traced back a few steps to your post on Sister’s successes at the English marmalade challenge and I agree with your putting her victory in the right context, it’s like beating them at cricket. If there’s a bake-off for American apple pie, I have not a doubt she can mount a worthy entry there too. So it’s no longer Pigman’s sister; it’s now the Marmalade Champion’s brother.

    Apr 10, 2014 | 6:10 pm

     
  4. Marketman says:

    Footloose, I believe she won a “Best Apple Pie” at the Union Square market, using Northern Spies if I recall correctly, a few years back… :)

    Apr 10, 2014 | 6:32 pm

     
  5. marilen says:

    Sister is a champion in her own right!!! But something genius doth runs in the family!!!
    Footloose, love your analogy to cricket. Also an addition to my vocabulary –
    mohel’ – love learning from this community

    Apr 10, 2014 | 10:17 pm

     
  6. Kakusina says:

    Authentic dinakdakan is made with the pig’s nape and face (maskara) and liver, boiled, grilled and then chopped. Mayonnaise is an innovation. The original ingredient for the ‘sauce’ was pig’s brain.

    Apr 11, 2014 | 12:58 am

     
  7. Meg says:

    I love dinakdakan, only if it were made with pig’s brains. Gerarda—that’s a rare name and happens to be my real name too.

    Apr 11, 2014 | 1:22 am

     
  8. Natie says:

    Wow, 3 posts! What a treat!

    Apr 11, 2014 | 1:40 am

     
  9. psychomom says:

    dinakdakan is almost like sisig?

    Apr 11, 2014 | 2:34 am

     
  10. ami says:

    I wouldn’t have guessed that the 2nd picture is kare kare without reading the accompanying text. I thought it was sinigang with very murky sabaw.

    Apr 11, 2014 | 9:20 am

     
  11. pixienixie says:

    That take on dinakdakan reminds me of how some establishments top or mix their sisig with mayonnaise. As a Kapampangan, I can only shake my head and silently scream. :( And that kare-kare… I don’t know if it’s just me, but you can tell if a dish was thickened with cornstarch, right? The sauce took on a sort of milky, pasty appearance….

    We’ll be in Bohol in June; will definitely eat here. Thanks for this review!

    Apr 11, 2014 | 10:42 am

     
  12. JE says:

    Is kinampay close in spirit to something like ginataang langka? I find it hard to imagine how ube would taste in a savory dish like that.

    Apr 11, 2014 | 6:11 pm

     
  13. Hershey says:

    Fried tadyang looks cripsy and to die for! yummeh!

    Apr 12, 2014 | 7:14 pm

     
  14. Gillyweed says:

    I also liked eating at that restaurant near the pier. Their kinilaw was delicious.

    Apr 13, 2014 | 8:46 pm

     
  15. Reggie Rullan says:

    Dinakdakan is indeed an Ilokano dish with the distinction of the sauce being mayonnaise mixed with steamed or boiled pork brains to give that creamy savory taste. If they used coconut milk then it must be a Visayan substitution for the brains. Ilokanos don’t cook with coconut milk or cream. I grew up eating dinakdakan with Ilokano kin preparing this for special occasions and I have not come across a coconut milk version.

    Apr 16, 2014 | 11:51 am

     
  16. Nina says:

    Hi MM, next time you’re in Tagbilaran, try the native chicken and balbacua at Six Sisters. They are the best. They’re known for both dishes and the locals go there specifically for these. But make it there before lunch before the lunch crowd wipes out the balbacua and native chicken! Another highly recommended place is Monding’s for their dinuguan :)

    The name escapes me now, but yes, the restaurant on stilts at the pier is also a go-to for good food before all these new restos have sprung up.

    Apr 22, 2014 | 10:09 am

     

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