Monday, June 24, 2013

Dining in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental

One of the reasons I was excited about our summer vacation was because it meant we would be visiting 2 provinces in one trip! Siquijor did not have an airport so we had to go to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental first, before catching a ferry to Siquijor. 

And I've been very curious about Dumaguete. I used to keep confusing Negros Oriental with Negros Occidental, the one with the sugar plantations. I love how travel makes me learn stuff.  Dumaguete is a charming university town with Silliman University as its nucleus. It was established by the Americans as an educational institution during their colonization of the Philippines. The university has produced some of the best writers in the English language including Edith and Edilberto Tiempo.

It reminds me of the University of the Philippines but it trumps my campus with its breathtaking view of the sea. It's just too bad we came here while the Palarong Pambansa was going on. It was packed so we didn't venture inside. Maybe next time?
Another thing I was excited about was all the news I heard about how good the food was here! Lonely Planet highly recommended the Silvanas at Sans Rival so that's where we first went when we got back from Siquijor! It was like an airconditioned school cafeteria, nothing fancy. But the clincher is that the food were sold at student prices, too! The silvanas were just P15 each (even cheaper at P125 per box of 10) the slice of walnut dacquoise at P48 and the most expensive iced coffee was P68!  Even my papa was surprised at how cheap but delicious everything was!
The internet was a big help when it came to choosing where to eat but it also came with a glut of info both pro and con about every restaurant that by dinnertime I was paralyzed with indecision and maybe fatigue, so we ended up eating dinner at the restaurant of our hotel. It wasn't bad but not really noteworthy.

For breakfast, we were supposed to go to Mamia but we forgot where it was so we ended up at Sans Rival's classier branch which was an old mansion which was turned into a restaurant. The meals were pricier but this pancake serving was good enough for 2 hungry adults!
I did feel proud that I ordered the suman /budbud, which was a local delicacy served with hot chocolate and mango slices. For a more authentic experience, you'd have to go to the wet market.

This is the lobby of Hotel Essencia, the newest and biggest hotel in Dumaguete. It was almost the perfect place except for our bad luck. I had reserved our family room way back in January but they didn't require a deposit. I guess they didn't expect that they'd be so busy during the election season and that the candidates for senator of the UNA party would choose to stay there on the same day we were.

When we got there, the front desk told me that all their family rooms were occupied! They said the ones who got our room still hadn't returned and that they weren't answering their phones, either. I suspect they gave our room to one of the scummy politicians and that's another reason I didn't vote for them.

Mama didn't  like this one bit and after the lame excuses she demanded to talk to the manager which sent them scurrying for a room for us ASAP. They offered us a standard room but I said no. Those were cheaper but we wouldn't have a view. So we got a deluxe twin room which was smaller than the family room but offered us a view of Silliman university. Though for all the aggravation they caused us, I think a good hotel manager would have at least given us a discount. But aside from that blunder, our stay was quite excellent. We had cable, clean sheets, lots of toiletries, even comfy rubber slippers!
Our last lunch in Dumaguete was at Jo's Inato, a packed restaurant near Silliman University. We'd gone to a Jo's Inato in Puerto Princesa but Mama didn't like the chicken there because it was glazed with coconut oil. But the chicken inato here was different. It tasted more like the Inasal we're used to. The place was full and hot as an oven! Luckily, we saw that they had an airconditioned floor upstairs. The difference in the prices was only P2 so I wondered why anyone would choose to stay downstairs at all!
The best meal was their house specialty pancit. It was sooo good!

I'd come back to Dumaguete just for this! And maybe some more silvanas and a tour of Silliman University!

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