The Search for the Sara-Sara-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Saturday, July 7, 2012
I CRADLE a mug of hot native coffee and inhale a familiar steam. My native coffee is native but is not coffee. How so?
It is sara-sara or a coffee substitute prepared by roasting rice grains, grinding them, and brewing them just like coffee beans.
Visayan people who lived through the war satisfied their craving for coffee by making do with rice when coffee bean supplies were scarce. Sara-sara has the taste of the brew but doesn’t deliver the kick, so, is quite a boon to those who avoid caffeine or do not want to keep awake all night.
I heard that somewhere at the Bacolod Public Market one coffee shop sells rice coffee. I would have wanted to be at one of the formica tables sitting elbow to elbow with the hoi-polloi and sipping my “native” brew but there was no sara-sara. My journey took me to all the cafes that occupy small and high-ceilinged units of the 1950’s market building, only to land me in pretty comfort at the Buglas Coffee Bar along Lacson Street which is about three blocks away from where I planned to be.
In such a small bar, Buglas delivers the big kick for coffee lovers. Listed on their menu are 28 coffee-based drinks; the unlisted are 32 more concoctions which the café’s two baristas can whip up should the customer feel like it, whatever “it” is. Tea drinkers can ask for the Dilmah brand of tea in bags with choices of lychee, peach, lemon, peppermint and green tea. Hot chocolate? Sure! Of course, there’s the sara-sara (P25).
Buglas has an 80% student-based market and 20% of office people. The prices assure that the college kids spend within their budget. Wifi is available, too. Cappuccino is the best-seller. The foam is kept consistently thick by the skillful hands of the baristas.
Students are also fans of hazelnut latte and almond mocha iced coffee. The young ones can squeeze into the ground floor’s 16 seats (8 inside and 8 outside) and 25 seats in the basement.
The hungry can find student staples such as burgers made from 100% beef [I so love their Mexican burger (P80)] which come with unsalted French fries. The flavors are consistent, the patties well-done and charcoal-grilled.
You can settle for a Cheeseburger Supreme (P70) or go hog-wild with the Burger El Grande Challenge. This plate-sized burger is good for 8 but if one can gobble this up in 15 minutes he wins a month’s worth of coffee coupons and the burger is free! So far, no one has won the challenge, so, come over and try your luck.
Now, meet the clever couple behind Buglas - newly-weds Jose and Rai-Rai Gasacao who put up the coffee bar in June last year. Both quit their jobs and became their own bosses.
Jose used to work for a food distributorship company’s Management Information System while Rai-rai used to be a nurse at a cancer research center in Singapore for 13 years. They enrolled themselves in an intensive 4-day class at the Philippine Barista and Coffee Academy in Manila. By the time they married this year, they’ve gotten the hang of the business.
The café is just beside Chinabank which is beside Business Inn. A canopy provides respite from rain and sun at the entrance so be on the lookout for the canopy for you will notice it before noticing the café’s sign. And do enter the glass door and not the wooden one which I did not once or twice but thrice. Old dog, new tricks.
My Team Tikim partner Glady Reyes and I had a long leisurely lunch of the above-mentioned burgers and Nachos with Cheesy Beef Salsa (P55). The nachos are made of fried wonton wrappers folded into triangles. Pork back ribs (P85) come with rice. Just add a frozen iced tea (P30) and you’ve got yourself a meal and a drink that you can pretend to be dessert. The pork was tender and was drizzled not drowned with a smoky barbeque sauce.
Also a meal by itself is yang chow rice (P50) that is served in a capacious bowl. It has lots of vegetable pieces (carrot, corn, cabbage, and peas) and is strongly flavored with pork bits. This is just about the only dish that has a generous addition of vegetables which means that Buglas Coffee Bar is a meat-lover’s haven. Famished patrons can have a late breakfast of rice meals of sisig, pork liempo, burger steak, fried chicken, and sausages (Hungarian, schublig, cheese Hungarian, and veal bratwurst).
The mostly young noonday crowd feels right at home in the country-style interiors. Stools, tables, and benches are fashioned from hardwood tree stumps. The basement encourages sitting on the floor with quilts and cushions.
Glady and I preferred the bench by the entrance where we could see a sheet of rain running down the glass windows. Rain or shine, we simply enjoy our coffee whatever the weather.
For a change, enjoy your cup of steaming hot beverage from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Buglas Coffee Bar.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 07, 2012.