Six Sisters. Check that out.
A friend told me when I asked him where to eat delicious yet on the cheap food in Tagbilaran City in Bohol that I found myself hiring a tricycle downtown. I told the driver to bring me up Rizal Street to the said carinderia. Although many tricycle drivers are said to know the place, the one I rode on didn’t and we had to ask directions along the way.
Carinderia in the Philippines is a small, usually a hole in the wall diner. It can also be a simple eatery usually located at the first level of a house that serves food in a no frills, open-air environment with wooden or plastic tables and chairs and a fan with the food displayed on trays or still in their cooking pots and pans neatly lined up in one area.
It is where one can taste Filipino everyday cuisine and for most people, it is cheap, delicious and a must if one doesn’t cook at home. And it very well applies to Six Sisters Food.
It all started in the 1970s when the grandmother of the six Añasco Sisters started the carinderia along Carlos P. Garcia Avenue. Over the years, several transfers and later renamed Six Sisters Food, it is still a family run business with the children currently helping out, the carinderia plus a thriving catering business is still serving loyal patrons.
I was there a little before lunch, just before the place gets crowded and all tables are taken, spilling out into the covered open space behind the side entrance. I ordered the balbacua or sometimes spelled balbakwa, a Cebuano comfort food made usually from the skin, feet or tail (oxtail) of beef.
But the server also told me that their popular viands include the caldereta (stew with goats meat) and an eel dish called panangitan. I was offered the native fried chicken, said to be another favorite but I had to refuse as the minimum that they sell is half a chicken and I was solo.
With a cup of rice, I started my lunch. The caldereta was just, oh, so tender. I like its thick, mildly spicy sauce. There’s no hint of smell that is often associated with goat meat. The balbacua was another delicious dish. The skin beautifully melts in your mouth, the meat tender and succulent and I was keenly scraping the ligaments and tendons that stuck to the bones.
I was supposed to limit myself to just one cup of rice but with the kind of food I had before me? I had to order an additional cup! The panangitan was a bit of a curiosity to me. It’s not often that I eat eel and for this one, I was curious on how it tasted.
I started with the broth. It was deliciously sweetish from the gata or coconut milk, peppery and savory too. The skin of the eel, gelatinous, fatty and, like the balbacua, provided a beautiful texture. The fish meat was also tender. Cooked just right, it was a memorable dish that, if I wasn’t full from the other food, I would have ordered another slice.
The carinderia is also known for its saang (spider conch shells), kiampaw or qiampao (sting ray) and other Filipino dishes. Most viands are priced affordably with the meat and fish usually, depending on the size, from P40-P90 per piece.
The carinderia is a bit far from downtown Tagbilaran City and some tricycle drivers might not know its location. But with a little patience, the food is worth the search and effort.
Six Sisters Food
Upper Rizal Street
Tagbilaran City, Bohol
Opens 0600H-1500H daily