The Philippines is known to the world as a premier Southeast Asian destination, especially because of its abundance of natural wonders, pristine beaches, exotic wildlife and lively festivals. The Masskara Festival, one of the country's most popular festivals, is held every third week of October in a city called Bacolod, the capital of the country's booming sugar region.

While most people come to the city to experience the energy of the Masskara festival, travellers often find themselves falling in love with the food. Bacolod's cuisine is a balanced blend of sweet, savory, and sour flavors that is guaranteed to melt the heart and fill the belly. If you're planning a trip to The City of Smiles, you're going to want to check out these local-loved dishes.

1.       Chicken Inasal 

Known to be Bacolod's specialty, chicken inasal is the Filipino take on roasted chicken. It is marinated in a blend of salty and sour flavors then grilled over a charcoal flame, brushed with chicken oil, and served with white rice and a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, spiced vinegar, and a tart citrus fruit known as kalamansi.

This signature dish can be found in various spots all over the city, but establishments such as Aidas in Manokan country and Nena Rose. More adventurous diners might also want to experience dishes of chicken skin, liver, and intestines, cooked in the same manner.

2.       Cansi

A piping hot bone marrow soup dish that is native to the island region of Negros, Cansi is known to be an indulgent delicacy. It is made with beef shank with bone marrow that is continuously boiled in a large pot of bone broth throughout the day. This savory soup is given a kick with the use of Batwan, a very sour fruit found only in the region.

Food Bloggers at Philippine online publication Rappler highly recommends going to Bacolod's Shopping district to find the best Cansi in the city. Small street-side establishments such as Sharyn's and Eron's are known to be the most popular.

3.       Pala-Pala

A pala-pala is a unique dining experience that involves the hand-picking of fresh seafood and having it cooked in the style of your liking. Pala-palas are an excellent way to showcase the rich oceans of the Philippines, as well as the authentic cooking style of Bacolod.

If you're looking to satisfy your seafood craving, locals will definitely point you towards Aboy's restaurant or Diotay's Eatery. These establishments feature dishes such as baked or grilled scallops, garlic butter shrimp, and the like.

4.       Dessert

Being the capitol of The Philippines' sugar industry, it's easy to see why it would be known as a sweet tooth paradise. Bacolod is home to some of the best cake shops, bakeries and patisseries in the country. Most feature desserts that utilize Mascuvado, a rawer form of brown sugar, and other sugar cane by-products.

Locals, as well as food bloggers for Philppine blog Our Awesome Planet, will be able to tell you that Calea is an absolute favorite dessert spot in the city. Featuring a wide variety of cakes, pies, and ice cream confections, it truly is a dessert paradise.