Get a taste of bas-oy, a Sunday breakfast staple in the Southern Cebu town of Carcar
Bas-oy, a Visayan dish of carabao beef cooked with ginger, chilies and lemongrass is a Sunday breakfast staple in Carcar, a town in Southern Cebu. The STK Ta Bai version uses pork and liver, and it’s one of most notable dishes at this popular eatery.
Jerry Noel Alcover ran a successful business distributing toiletries to hotels and restaurants until it folded in 1998. “There were two years that we did not have anything to eat, just a bit of rice and bagoong shrimp paste,” says his daughter Karen Cabahug, who recalls the irony of a man who had, until then, always cooked delicious meals for his family. “In desperation, he prayed to God for a little carinderia (eatery).” With money he made from the sale of property, he opened exactly that in the garage of their house on Orchid Street, Capitol Site. “He had only five tables and five dishes.” His target market? “Taxi drivers. He thought they would be the only ones interested in his carinderia.” Fortunately, he was way off on this one.
Employees from the nearby government offices came pouring in, and good word-of-mouth spread. He offered the original Cebuano concept of cooking one fish three ways: sugba (grilled), tuwa (cooked in clear soup), and Jerry’s famous kilaw (ceviche), shortened to STK. Eventually, his tagline of “Mag STK ta bai” (let’s STK, my friend) stuck and quickly became an afterhours catchphrase. Now the business has grown into a 200-seater on its original site, still attached to their house, another 100-seater in the rented apartment across, and yet another 200-seater restaurant in SM Seaside. The menu, despite the growth, remains the same well-cooked humble fare that Jerry grew up on.
STK Ta Bai Sa Paolito’s Seafood House, 6 A. Climaco St, Capitol Site; tel: +63 32 256 2700
This article first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Smile magazine.