I remember an office friend telling me to visit Pala-Pala Market, Bacolod’s version of dampa, during my first excursion to the City of Smiles. For some reason, I wasn’t able to check it out then. Then came my second and third visit, and I promptly forgot about it until this latest jaunt across Negros Occidental.
Tired of eating chicken inasals for two straight days, we looked for an alternative place for lunch; somewhere affordable but still something profoundly Bacolod. Then that conversation rushed back through my head. I know a place, I excitedly told my companions.
Getting there was a breeze, we simply asked the van we rented from the ride back from San Carlos City where the cheap seafood place is in Bacolod and he promptly dropped us there. The keyword here being cheap, as apparently there is a new Pala-Pala at 18th street where the dishes are anything but cheap.
Like Manila’s dampa restaurants, one has to buy from the old Pala-Pala market first for fresh seafood and have it cooked by the numerous food stalls or tulahan lining the streets for a fee.
I have no knowledge on how to check the freshness of sea bounties, so I simply handed in my contribution and let my friends do the market aspect of our lunch. I did however accompany them, since it’s just next door from our chosen carinderia, for a few snaps of the fresh bounties being sold there.
Cooking was surprisingly fast considering everything was prepared from scratch. It took only twenty minutes before dishes were served on our table. It was already past two in the afternoon, so imagine just how our mouth salivated as we waited for the other fares to be set down.
We were seven in the group and for a hundred bucks each, we were able to order calamares, tinula na isda (sorry I forgot what kind of fish), sizzling blue marlin steak, rice and softdrinks. Serving size were amazingly colossal and the flavors were all spot on!
I’m actually torn between the calamares and the blue marlin for my favorite. I would’ve included the tinula too if only I don’t dislike dishes that consists of fishes swimming in soup.
The ambience of our chosen diner leaves much to be desired; but you’d almost forget that there is no air-conditioning, that there are flies buzzing around and you’re eating on a table plastered with cheap laminates. Well okay.. almost. But the thing at Bacolod’s Pala-Pala is the seafood you’ll savor; its freshness, rich flavors and super affordable price. It certainly more than makes up for everything else.
Old Pala-Pala Market Seafood Tulahan
Address: San Juan st. corner North Capitol Road, Bacolod City
Open Hours: Open 24 hours everyday
GPS Coordinates: 10.678342,122.94937
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here