16 Mar2009

21, Bacolod

by Marketman


A last minute change of plans and a snap decision to drive back to Bacolod from Valladolid for a late lunch meant we were a bit famished by the time we got to “21” at 1:30 p.m. or so. Our hosts had phoned ahead before lunch to set aside 6 orders of their batchoy WITH bulalo so we were giddy with anticipation. I am told the bulalo runs out early so we were feeling extra special. I like batchoy, but the innards generally wreak havoc on my uric acid count so I don’t indulge that often. But just minutes after arriving at “21”, a spectacular bowl of batchoy was set in front of me, and one whiff screamed “delicious”! Made with a wonderful broth, I was told possibly including a touch of guinamos to provide that salty yet sweetish finish on the palate, the noodles were wonderful, the bits of pork lomo a nice upscale touch and the slivers of liver were an homage to the grittier original. But what put this utterly over the top were several teaspoons of bulalo (marrow) floating on the surface along with crispy bits of chicharon (pork cracklings). Talk about heart attack material! But it was fabulous! So good in fact, that we ordered several more bowls after just a few spoons full…


The photos appear incredibly fat filled due to the marrow and chichoron, but the bowl of noodles was quite balanced, I thought. :) I could eat this daily for a week and not get sick of it. Bravo to 21, superb bowls of batchoy, done their way. And yikes, the prices were just simply too good to be true! :)


Next up was a plate of battered and fried chicken butts or “isul”. OMIGOD. Could this be any better? Including not just the actual rear ends of the chickens but some of the meaty back and what I would like to think of as the “cheeks,” this was fried chicken heaven. And bag the gravy that came with it… give me ketchup and possibly worcestershire sauce to mix together as a dipping sauce instead. Wicked good. I actually wanted to order another plate but I knew the rest of the day was dedicated to eating, so I didn’t want to do myself in so early in the marathon. Fried chicken butts, totally excellent.


Yet another eye-opener was adobong alimusan (hito or catfish). The sauce was very good, with coconut milk I think, rich and familiar and a perfect match for the fish. Very good.


A plate of apan-apan or kangkong and other veggies, a bit adobo style as well. A welcome break from the incredibly fatty and rich food so far, but this did have bits of pork in it!


A bowl of laswa, which was a bit too “refined” for me, flavored with crab meat and shrimp and a nice way to “melt” all of the fat I had already consumed, but perhaps reaching the limit of what I could take in one meal, this was one of my least favorite dishes, but that’s okay, there was so much good stuff on the table so who was I to quibble?


Finally, some fresh lumpia ubod, which in comparison to other versions I had on the same trip, was a bit pale and subtle. Good, but not the finest I would experience on this whirlwind Bacolod trip.


Overall, a tremendous lunch at 21 and I would definitely go back. What is so fantastic about Bacolod is the focus on local cuisine, and which is so accessible in SEVERAL restaurants right on main street! The pride in their local food is palpable. In many other local towns I have visited, it was often difficult to find one or two local restaurants that offered the native cuisine as nicely done as it was at 21. It didn’t matter that superb home cooks were just meters away in private homes, doing their own versions of many things on the menu at 21… it was packed with guests, and understandably so. Gosh, and only halfway through our Bacolod trip at this point! :)



  1. Anbu says:

    BATCHOY! Man, I’m hungry now.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 9:50 am


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  3. Elmo says:

    sarap!!!! Is it ok to have lunch at 10am?Ü

    Mar 16, 2009 | 9:58 am

  4. Doddie from Korea says:

    Waaaah! I miss batchoy so much. With the crunchy chicharon, the free broth/soup that is given to you when they see that you’ve slurped up all of yours. The wonderful cacophony of innards, meat and sliced spring onions. And the lumpia! Sigh.

    I’m curious about the hito/catfish. They sell hito at the weekly street market here. I wonder if I can fix adobo like that (picture above). I need to call my mom and ask her how to clean/fix hito.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 10:05 am

  5. zena says:

    That batchoy looks and sounds heavenly! As in heaven to the taste buds and maybe we go straight to heaven after all that marrow, hehe.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 10:05 am

  6. angbukaw says:

    Batchoy! Batchoy! Batchoy! I miss batchoy so effin much. And isul-manok, my favorite part of the chicken.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 10:15 am

  7. Lex says:

    “21” used to have a branch in Megamall years ago. Bacolod people used to go there just to savor comfort food that they miss. They used to serve the famous bachoy among other things. Unfortunately, their bachoy went the way of how they thought Manila folk liked their food, a dab sweeter than what they should be. Eating there became a disappointment and a far cry from what it was in Bacolod. I stopped going there and so may have many Negrenses because they eventually lost their clientele and closed shop.

    The soft shell crabs in 21 are quite good to and a for a song compared to Manila prices.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 10:23 am

  8. alana says:

    oh my that’s a mean bowl of batchoy! and batchoy with bulalo!! omg that is simply too good to be true. I’m booking the next flight to Bacolod now!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:02 am

  9. lee says:

    Namit ang batchoy sa 21.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:18 am

  10. jun says:

    I’M VERY HUNGRAY NOW!!!! Near lunch time….This is torture hehehehe

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:21 am

  11. glenville says:

    oh gosh. suddenly i miss batchoy in my hometown, iloilo. we always go to deco’s to get our batchoy fix when we’re there. yes, this is torture!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:41 am

  12. luna miranda says:

    hayyyyyy, these are all mouth-watering! alimusan, by the way, looks like hito but its from the sea. my mother cooks a mean ginataang alimusan but she doesn’t eat alimusan. the price at “21” is quite surprising ‘no? you could take the whole barangay there and would have something left to pay for dessert.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:50 am

  13. mrs lavendula says:

    that batchoy looks wonderfully delicious!!!
    yuuuum! (to think i just finished lunch! hehehe!)

    Mar 16, 2009 | 12:50 pm

  14. Quillene says:


    you wouldn’t happen to have the address of 21 would you? We are planning a trip down south and would like to try that mean looking batchoy!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 1:59 pm

  15. iyoy says:

    luna, yes,alimusan is salt water catfish. any tip from your mom on how to make ginataang alimusan?when i do it it always turns out tough. frying first then braising chinese style does the trick but there must be a better way.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 2:06 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Quillene, sorry, I don’t have the address. But it is on the MAIN road in Bacolod city. Everyone there seems to know exactly where it is. If not, Lee, or other folks familiar with Bacolod, could you leave a comment please? Thanks.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 2:16 pm

  17. Mik says:

    21 is on Lacson St (I think), but every cabbie knows where it is!
    I also love the fried isul :(

    Mar 16, 2009 | 2:16 pm

  18. benchorizo says:

    You should go to Iloilo for batchoy. Ted’s, the best. Then Tatoy’s and Breakthrough for seafoods.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 2:21 pm

  19. Jaja says:

    sarap ng batchoy grabe!!!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 3:10 pm

  20. Katrina says:

    21 has the best batchoy I’ve ever tasted! Even my friend who was with us, who’s eaten batchoy at La Paz, said 21’s was yummier. How does the chicharon stay crunchy in the broth??? We didn’t know we could order it with bulalo, so now there’s yet another reason to return!

    Wish we’d tried the isul, too. But we did try the boquerones, soft shell crabs and the pinitaw, which is also served at the hotel we stayed in, Business Inn. Pinitaw is like adobo flakes, but it’s beef. Crispy, shredded meat is always a hit with me. And like you, I was very surprised that a place that looks as nice as 21 does, has such reasonable prices. Their prices are even lower than Pendy’s, which, though they also serve good food, doesn’t have nearly as nice an ambience.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 3:19 pm

  21. lee says:

    21 is in the corner of Lacson and 21st street. We only have two main streets, Lacson and Araneta with Lacson leading up North and Araneta down south.
    For folks travelling to Bacolod without transportation here are the numbers of trustworthy, clean and new taxis…

    Faith Taxi: 4410702
    Tuhl Taxi: 4469196
    BeeGee: 4461675

    Mar 16, 2009 | 4:09 pm

  22. maddie says:


    Mik is right. 21 is on Lacson Street, the main highway that leads to practically the north and south of everything in Bacolod. And yes, every cabbie would know where that is. If not (which is close to impossible) just say it’s close to North Drive.


    I miss 21’s batchoy. :-(

    Mar 16, 2009 | 4:22 pm

  23. Quillene says:

    Thanks Lee, Mik, Maddie and MM!

    Now on to some serious fasting before hitting bacolod and 21’s Batchoy!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 5:06 pm

  24. luna miranda says:

    according to my mom, alimusan becomes tough when you mix in vinegar before the fish is cooked. like any paksiw, vinegar should be added when the meat has been thoroughly cooked, then add coconut milk, slow cooking. good luck to your next ginataang alimusan, iyoy.:D

    Mar 16, 2009 | 5:07 pm

  25. bearhug0127 says:

    the batchoy looks really good, i can almost taste it. and the alimusan, i miss it a lot!! the laswa and the apan-apan are my comfort food. haay, i really miss all these food.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 6:08 pm

  26. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    I’ll bet the noodles were good. That kind of stuff has to be unhealthy and fatty to be really good.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 6:52 pm

  27. juls says:

    yummmmeeee MM…

    so… did you try the dulce gatas???

    Mar 16, 2009 | 7:00 pm

  28. zena says:

    I have been to Ted’s in Iloilo 3x (as a guest) and I can’t say that i was impressed. I love Tatoy’s, though. Always worth the drive out of the city.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 7:41 pm

  29. corrine says:

    benchorizo, we have Ted’s bachoy in Paranaque but it’s not good.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 7:43 pm

  30. simone says:

    Sadly Ted’s Batchoy has deteriorated over the years. It’s not as good as it was before. Along with Luna’s arroz caldo in Iloilo. Now, people go to Deco’s for their batchoy fix. It is tastier and with more chicharon!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 10:06 pm

  31. openonymous says:

    adobong alimusang is more than just catfish, it is ocean catfish or maybe salt water catfish.same texture as kanduli. but it is so good, esp the head where all the jucy morsels are, they call catfish in Ilongo as pantat, I think same as kapampangan

    as for the diwal, the belly is the delicacy also, maybe you have forgotten your new -england days but fried clam bellies are more preferred and expensive than just regular clam strips. The diwal shell is so delicate and it is prone to breaking, just like the New England steamer shells, same taste , almost I think, But it has been so long that I ‘ve had diwal. I remember my detailman days in Bacolod, we would exchange our samples (mostly vitamins) for the seafood that was being sold by the highways, one can get banagan (spiny lobster) or pasayan (shrimp) or even lapu lapu, the alimusang I stayed away from, it was so huge.. But if one really wants to be adventurous in the Bacolod area, one has to drive to Moises padilla Town during their palengke day, where one can but any livestock that they want, this is where my floow detailmen from ilocos get their goat (live) or rabbits, gunia pigs, baby pigs, native pigs (pot bellies) or horses and cattle or eagles and parrots and some monkeys.it is a town to behold i do not know if they still do that. I ususally go for my lechon fixins in the vendor’s store.

    Mar 16, 2009 | 10:26 pm

  32. Diwata08 says:

    Ha Ha Ha… LOTS OF MILES OF JOGGING to shed the pounds you gained in Bacolod MM!!!! Gastronomic Marathon was what you did there!!! BTW… the worst place to have Bachoy is in Tagaytay during the cold months, ‘no?

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:42 pm

  33. Teddy says:

    i still think the best batchoy anyone can have is the ORIGINAL batchoy of my childhood, which is deco’s, inside the market of La Paz town in Iloilo, but the version of 21 isn’t bad at all. I also take my hat off to Richie La’O Gamboa, 2nd (or is it 3rd?) generation chef-owner of 21 for keeping such really indigenous Bacolod fare like laswa in 21’s menu. i was with another monster foodie, my cousin, teddyboy locsin, in bacolod recently and amongst other goodies we gobbled up was richie’s terribly sinful and terribly scrumptious crispy pata in fried garlic (pamatay!) and his kadios (gads, im killing myself with delight, just writing the names of this Ilonggo dishes).. but MM, I am so happy that you have Margarita as a guide to introduce you to the wonderful food of Negros. There’s no better guide than her where such delectable local fare is concerned!

    Mar 16, 2009 | 11:59 pm

  34. Maria Clara says:

    I had the quickie version of bachoy and it was a delight which looked totally different from what you have here with all the work!

    Mar 17, 2009 | 3:37 am

  35. jack says:

    Deco’s in Iloilo for batchoy. They have marrow bones and they make taktak straight to your bowl. I hope that’s still the practice because that was how they did it in the old days.

    Ted’s lost it’s touch. The key to Ted’s is to know which branch makes it good. The best one I had was near Super Market in de Leon and the one near UP Visayas.

    My yaya/cook makes adobado Alimusan this way

    make achuete oil

    sautee in achuete oil
    garlic, onion, ginger
    add alimusan
    then add chili, salt and pepper and a bit of soy.
    Add vinegar cook till vinegar mellows
    finish with coconut milk

    Mar 17, 2009 | 3:56 am

  36. natie says:

    these days, i prefer Decos also–last year, Teds really surprised me with blah broth..i could have made a better tasting bowl with ‘lucky me’…so now, i just go to Decos.

    got to try 21’s!!!

    Mar 17, 2009 | 7:41 am

  37. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Ooooh…all the good food. My late dad is from Bacolod…but I never had the pleasure of visiting relatives there. My best friend though would bring me there and we would eat the local delights…and yup—-i agree with you. They are proud of their food….
    All these food really make me hungry especially the batchoy….mmmmmmmm…
    Haven’t been logging in lately…my laptop has been going bonkers…

    Mar 17, 2009 | 8:29 am

  38. jun says:

    I have to make this batchoy with the bone marrow… I can almost taste how heavenly is this.

    Mar 17, 2009 | 12:53 pm

  39. maricar says:

    21 started with their batchoy and siopao and was just a circular bar outside Tita Lydia’s house on 21-Lacson St. I make it a point to bring visitors to try their crispy crablets, laswa, and pinitaw. Unfortunately, I have stopped eating batchoy eversince I learned of how much MSG it used in every single bowl. I opt for the chicken mami which still uses the same broth and matching MSG, at least lessened impact. I was just told by Lee about the fried cardiac or isol LOL so I might just try that when I go home next year.
    My other staples in Bacolod are Business Inn and Pendy’s. But for dessert, Emma Lacson’s pili bars and fresh lumpia, Minerva’s dulce gatas, Romy Legaspi’s mangga pastel and El Ideal’s buko pie all from Silay City. I forget where we get the original flat piaya.

    Mar 17, 2009 | 2:11 pm

  40. Mik says:

    To add to all the food nostalgia (haha) I also love Roli’s Napoleones. Bob’s has a buko pie that reminds me of the El Ideal ones we used to get when I was a kid. I remember when 21 was called 21st (after 21st St) and then at some point it was Bar 21. Pendy’s used to have a good salpicao (not sure if they still do, I’d heard that they moved).

    Juls, dulce gatas!! I used to sneak spoonfools of it from my mom’s stash when I was a kid. It was always something she would bring when she would visit me in Manila.

    Mar 18, 2009 | 4:07 pm

  41. Teddy says:

    the best and original piyaya is made by bailon’s. the latter also makes the best empanada in bacolod… go to pendy’s for the best dulce gatas and half-moon ( at the souvenirs section). and to indulge in really good cakes, go to calea (near l’fishers). roli’s is also famous for its slightly grilled chicken sandwich which has never changed in goodness since we were kids growing up in bacolod

    Mar 19, 2009 | 9:19 pm

  42. Joem Segovia says:

    My first time to comment but been reading your blog for a year now. My dad was Ilonggo as well and reading this just brings me fond memories of batchoy, dulce gatas… I remember eating this with rice, and that ver salty fish egg. Thanks for the memories.

    Mar 21, 2009 | 12:27 pm

  43. Joem Segovia says:

    Oh and I remember going here too back in the 90’s. It was like a gimmick place then… Balay 21, ithink, I was like 12 or something and I was with my dad at that time. To much of my suprise a classmate of mine owns it pala. This is the place I first tried Margarita hahahha! Waaah time flies!

    Mar 21, 2009 | 12:30 pm

  44. leah m says:

    reaaaalllly miss Batchoy…. I will eat tons of it when we go to the Philipppines at the end of this year…I wonder if the Batchoy restaurants (Nora’s Lapaz Batchoy and Ted’s- I think) are still there – right in front of the Lapaz Public Market.

    Mar 22, 2009 | 7:46 pm

  45. mei kwei says:

    thanks again, MM. being a negrense myself- cant help but feel homesick. miss the batchoy,inasal, laswa, pochero, etc.. hope you will have the time to go to bacolod again and share your new found food adventures. try garden cafe- so far they have the most authentic ilonggo delicacy- at par with my lola bebings cooking. i love their fresh lumpia ubod. have you tried the kansi from bacolod? its also to die for. try the food from the manuglibod from silay- the empanaras,etc…my mom used to buy the wide array of food selections from their baskets- am not sure if they still sell these though. have you tried the food from pendy’s and bob? i miss the big siopao and burgers from Bob’s. as a child after seeing my pedia dr s- we just hav to stop by at bob’s. also the napoleones at rolis bakeshop, chocolate cake and their sans rival.

    Apr 7, 2010 | 12:16 am

  46. kittel says:

    I’ve been living in Bacolod for almost 2 years now and I haven’t eaten batchoy at 21 yet. Your post made me think about eating there sometime in the future…For batchoy I usually go to Super Batchoy House near the central market…Almost as good as the ones we have in Iloilo…

    Jun 4, 2010 | 11:14 pm


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