As I always tell friends who want to tour around this country… on eating, go where the folks are and eat what most of them eat. That almost always ensures you are getting the freshest cooking in town.
Having come out of the Cebu International Convention Center one evening, I thought I have had enough of Park Mall that I think I have already memorized all the shops and restaurants there. And I was curious what lies along this road going rightwards to the area of San Miguel brewery where the highway is. Note: its a stretch of road with too many informal settlers on both sides. As it looked well-lighted and safe enough (I have passed by this area many times), I opted to walk, just to satisfy my curiosity.
Reaching that intersection of A.Del Rosario and CD Seno (that road from the CICC and ParkMall (with the gas station connecting them to the highway), I noticed some bustling activity at one of two similar eateries on one side. I have passed by this area many times when I take jeeps to Punta Engano, the airport or elsewhere Mactan but didn’t quite notice this is such a busy corner in the evenings. I asked a traffic police what that place is serving for a lot of people to be patronizing. He said “larangan na, sir” and even told me to try it.
So I walked right in and OMG!
Food is laid out on a big table. Few choices but all briskly selling. Actually there is just fried pork, fried chicken, tinowa, and larang. The latter two are the “greatest hits” that people go to this place for! My curiosity as to what was this other thing beside the tinowa led me to discover larang!
‘Been hopping by every chance I get since then! Here are more inside scoops!
The fried pork is not your usual pork chops. This is more on the fatty side. I think waitress told me its more on the face, neck and nape portion of the pig. Good enough just the same! At times, fried chicken is available, though I seldom catch it since its one of the first to go! (Its a wonderful combination with Larang kasi)! Sometimes they also grill fish and pork, but its a scrimmage too! However, the tinowa and larang are two staples that the eatery swears they cannot go without! Those big big kawali that are always full and replenished with the larang and tinowa are the fastest selling!
You point to what you want, the server will scoop your fish unto a bowl and fill it with the soup until full. Say stop if you don’t need that much. But I suggest you just shut up since you will enjoy all of it anyway! Believe me!
You carefully bring your steaming-hot bowl to a table of your choice. Careful with where you walk as there are many people around. Just a slight bump and soup will spill unto your hands. Arghhh, its toooo hot!
You place the bowl (not your things yet if you’re alone) on the table and return to the counter for rice. You have to choose and tell the server what you want between “humay”(palay) and “mais”(corn). Yep, in Cebu’s eateries, “rice” can be the rice that we know and/or corn grits cooked the same way! And their big pots would usually be sitting side-by-side. I noticed the “mais” has finer smaller grains and that’s how I avoid it. I still like the real rice. Note: many Cebuanos prefer the “mais” – am not sure why. They probably grew into it like we did with the rice we know. To each his own, at least they have “humay” (pronounced who-my)
With the rice in hand, you can pass by another counter for your spoon and fork. They’d usually be cooking in their very own pot or tray atop a constantly burning stove. Yes, cooking! How to get your pair is one challenge you’ll need to summon your “McGyver” brains to do it! No am not telling hehe!
Uhm, no I don’t need a drinking glass in this place. I drink direct from the bottle. Probably because their drinking glasses are not “cooked” hehe! You’ll see what I mean when you get there!
You can actually “circumvent” the lining up for rice and utensils and just tell a waitress to get one for you (especially when you need “extra rice”). But you might not like the ‘waiting time’ even just to catch the attention of a waitress. C’mon the place is bustling!
Either you also take a chance with an available waitress or you just walk up to the fridge and get your sodas (softdrinks). There may be two or three red freezers but there is usually no coke – just mountian dew and other pepsi products. Miraculously though, they always have Coke Litro!
If you need more of the soup – the stock I mean, you just go back to the server and ask for ‘extra soup’ – your choice if you want to bring your already used bowl or you want them to put that in a new one. Is free, but I prefer to re-use my bowl, so that the server won’t mistake that I need another order PLUS, so waitresses won’t mistake it later for another serving of the fish. Because…
After eating, you call a waitress and ask her “how much”. Yes, you can be as trying hard as I am by saying “pila?”! She then looks at the plates, bowls and bottles then tell you how much. Hint: a bowlful of Larang (with how many gallons ever of extra soup you consumed) and two servings of rice is something like P46. So I think the larang costs P30 and the rice at P8 – probably. Hmm, I have not really taken a good note on that part. I just know its cheap!