Bacolod is known for many things: its welcoming people, the people’s discerning taste for good food, and a vibrant dining scene. A well-accepted local pastime is to meet-up with friends and eat; just to eat again at a different place a few hours later. Eating out is well woven into the fabric of their culture, as such it has led to a diverse and creative roster of restaurants in the city. Varying from traditional Negrense spots to more modern Spanish-influenced restaurants. MuShu is a product of this culinary history, transforming through the years with Bacolod’s people and culture. Leading to menu changes and location moves, until finally coming to its present form – a restaurant that has evolved with the city it was built in.
Opening back in 2007, MuShu was established by Chef JP Anglo, a Bacolod native, and a group of partners. Originally envisioned as a bar, MuShu steadily built its menu based off from crowd favorites and hopeful experiments. This led to their reopening this year as a full restaurant. I met with Martin Lachica, one of MuShu’s business partners, to try some of their dishes and talk about the story behind their restaurant.
At first glance, MuShu welcomes you with wide open windows that let the natural light shine in its nature-inspired interiors. With a mostly wooden motif, your eyes lead you to look up at the greenery decor on their walls that provide a calm and relaxing feel.
A serving of their Crispy Dilis starts off our feast. Simple and straightforward as it is, this dish is very addicting. Salty, crunchy, and with a sweet-sour kick from its pineapple glaze. There’s something about its simplicity in flavor that keeps you nibbling at it for the entire meal. Martin shares it’s best to order around three servings of this dish when you visit.
Ever the local comfort food, the people of Bacolod enjoy a warm bowl of batchoy. Favored during late noon, MuShu playfully calls their iteration of the noodle soup – MuShu Batchoy Ramen. Pertaining to the intricate placement of the the dish’s toppings akin to its Japanese counterpart. It’s served with a Pandesiosa, a street food inspired side dish made from toasted bread bathed in chicken oil which you can dip in the broth. The dish gives a comforting warmth with its savory soup and a myriad of toppings accustomed to a standard batchoy such as bone marrow, pork offal, sliced pork belly, and pork crackling.
Next we go to a crowd favorite, Mushu’s Pancit Palabok. It is a heavy serving of the Filipino staple which is also served with a Pandesiosa for dipping. It may not seem like a noodle dish at first due to its generous sauce and toppings, concealing the noodles underneath. The thick sauce coats the noodles generously, imbuing its savory flavor in each strand. The contrasting textures of the toppings give layers to the dish with the soft chewiness of the tofu to the crunch of the pork crackling.
As a local staple, it’s no question that MuShu would have its own take on the classic Chicken Inasal. Their version has the chicken sizzling in a pan in sisig form. The inasal taste gets a new layer of flavor from the extra charring from the sizzle. As well as a change in texture with the meat retaining its signature juiciness but with a slight crunch. Martin explains that many restaurants in Bacolod have an affinity for making different types of ‘sisig’. This is one of their sisig variants, creating a sizzling dish that combines the juicy flavors of inasal with the crunch and texture of a sizzling sisig.
Another local dish given the ‘sisig’ treatment, their Sizzling Kansi has more concentrated flavor than the usual kansi. Once again, this sizzling version builds up the flavor of the original. Focusing on the batwan fruit’s savory sour taste, the soup is turned into a thick gravy which gets a bump in flavor from the hot plate giving a richer sauce with the chopped beef shanks. Of course, a little bone marrow for that extra richness can be mixed in for fuller flavor.
From its original form back when it just opened in 2007 as a bar then refocusing on its lunch and dinner menu when it reopened in January of this year, MuShu highlights tried and tested fare along with an ever curiosity for the new. Blending traditional and contemporary Negrense tastes through simple straightforward dishes. A true testament of the ever-adaptive and delicious history of Bacolod.
MuShu is located at 20th Lacson Street, 6100 Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. For reservations, contact (0922) 860-6952.
Photos by Pauline De Mesa