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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, January 02, 2016

entry arrow11:00 PM | Food Roundup Dumaguete 2016: Jo's Chicken Inato

I am an accidental foodie: I used to write a food column for a local paper and have written extensively about the Dumaguete food scene for national magazines and newspapers -- until I decided to discontinue the enterprise about four years ago. Still, people I know who visit Dumaguete keep asking me about the best places to go to eat, and I've found I no longer quite know the scene. A lot can change in half a decade. So I've decided to try a new approach this year and go about sampling the local food culture once more and document everything online in the course of twelve months. The city has grown and expanded enough in the years since 2011, and a significant part of what's happening food-wise has become unfamiliar to me. Consider this a personal adventure.

Let's begin with a Dumaguete institution: Jo's Chicken Inato, along Silliman Avenue, with its famous milky chicken barbecue -- a staple of local food culture that has endured over the years despite copycats and competition. That popularity could be attributed to the distinctive flavor which reflects a totality of local taste (hence, "inato"), something quite different from other regional variations of chicken barbecue such as the "inasal" from the other side of Negros. I have always preferred this dish -- and in particular, the "pecho" over the "paa" -- which is soft and milky and crispy in just the right places, and has none of the blandness of the Mang Inasal franchise nor the over-syrupy concoction of the Chicken Burger variety. The restaurant, founded in the early 1980s by the Bejar/Ng family, started out as a cake house and a small traveler's hostel, until chicken completely took over the identity of the establishment. Refurbished almost twenty years ago, it has since grown greasy and dim over the years -- but for some reason this has added to the no-frills appeal of the restaurant. (This is still a place, after all, where you're encouraged to eat with your hands.) Tonight, the pecho I ordered could have used some more satisfying finish and a meatiness that was largely absent. But hey, it's January 2nd and the place was brimming full of customers when I came in -- which could explain the weary unwelcoming looks of the wait staff. Still, not bad. I am a Dumagueteno, and my taste buds have been conditioned to love this chicken. Regular chicken meal priced at P120. Placed my order at 7:35 PM. Order received at 7:40 PM.


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