If you’d find yourself at A-One Tinola ug Sinugba one day, you’d be surprised that some of the people drive to this unassuming eatery in their SUVs or private vehicles. After all, it has enough parking slots since the actual eatery only occupies a fraction of the total space. I must also say that A-One is located in a seemingly abandoned portion of the North Reclamation Project in Cebu City. It has also no ambience as there is no garden or a koi pond in sight. There are only makeshift houses in the vicinity and undeveloped roads that seemingly lead to nowhere.
But these customers drove all the way to A-One for their delicious fish tinola and sinugba which are typical Cebuano comfort food. Their version of tinola is spartan in a sense since it is just the fish, tomatoes, spring onions and occasionally, lukot or seahare excretions. But once you take a sip of the hot broth, everything else falls into its place just like the notes in a Beethoven symphony.
I am not surprised why the eatery seems to have a diverse fan base which would include my dad, my dad’s friends and my friends’ dads. Almost all the professionals I’ve known in Cebu, those who have wheels and those who don’t, have been to A-One at some point. I belong to the latter category and especially the subset that hunts and appreciates great food with reasonable price tags. A-One Tinola ug Sinugba certainly passed, and even exceeded my standards.
When my church cellgroup went there last Sunday, I was surprised that the eatery has already improved. They now painted their walls, fixed their lavatory plumbing and systematized a bit their ordering system. What thankfully did not change are their simple recipes and choice of fresh fish. These may not be in the same league of freshness as Pito’s Sutokil, but you are assured that these are not the frozen counterparts from most supermarkets.
We did not mind the swarming flies that are also loyal patrons of A-One. I would draw the line of course the moment a winged creature makes a dive for my soup. But I’d look forward to the time when this too would be addressed. At any rate, great food always precedes fancy ambience for me. In that respect, I would always find myself coming back for more at A-One Tinola ug Sinugba.
A-One is located at Road North 6 (the street between A. Soriano Avenue and J. De Vera St.) which is across SM City Cebu.
Price varies depending on the serving size. Last Sunday we ordered a large grilled fish (Php320.00), grilled pork belly (Php150) and two bowls of fish tinola (Php60 each). A platter of rice costs Php15.00.