‘Under a Piaya Moon’: Iconic Negrense bites and delicacies | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

joel torre and jeff moses
Photo from "Under a Piaya Moon"

The latest Kurt Soberano film honors Negrense food heritage in both flavor and film



Directed by filmmaker Kurt Soberano, “Under a Piaya Moon” delves into the rich culinary heritage of Negros, showcasing the island’s delicacies and shining a spotlight on local talent, both on-screen and off-screen, with stars like Joel Torre and Jeff Moses. 

This heartfelt homage to his home province features dialogue entirely in the local Hiligaynon language, further authenticating its sincere tribute to Negrense traditions and identity. Set in 1980s Bacolod City, the film vividly portrays the era’s vibrant atmosphere and culinary treasures, making it a genuine tribute to the region’s unique heritage.

“I’m bringing ‘Under a Piaya Moon’ to the whole country, with an open heart, hoping that the audience would appreciate, not only our culture but also our language,” Soberano said. 

This debut film premiered at the inaugural Puregold CinePanalo Film Festival, where it won Best Picture among eight other major awards. “It’s in the sweetness of piaya and the depth of muscovado sugar that this movie seeks to reflect the collective identity of Negrenses, and our indomitable, enduring spirit,” Soberano says. “I made this movie in part to celebrate Negros, both to celebrate how it’s progressed, and preserve the culture we can’t afford to lose.” 

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“Under a Piaya Moon” follows the story of Stephen (Jeff Moses), a young man who inherits his grandparents’ bakery in Negros. Throughout his journey, Stephen grapples with the challenges of maintaining his family’s culinary legacy while navigating the challenges brought about by modernization. The film highlights the significance of traditional Negrense delicacies, such as piaya and muscovado sugar, as symbols of cultural identity and continuity. It portrays the intersection of the past and present, illustrating how food can serve as a bridge connecting generations and preserving heritage. 

To truly experience the culinary delights featured in “Under a Piaya Moon,” visit these iconic places that not only serve delicious food but also embody the essence of Negrense culture, making them perfect destinations for a genuine taste of the region’s heritage. 

Marit’s Special Piaya

Piaya | Photo from Adobe Stock

The piaya, with its caramelized muscovado filling and flaky crust, not only delights the palate but also serves as a sweet tribute to the province’s sugar-rich history and vibrant culture. 

Over the years, Marit’s Special Piaya has earned a reputation for quality. Their piayas have been praised as “the best piaya in the Philippines” by JP Anglo and Erwan Heussaff. 

Marit’s Special Piaya was established in the historic town of Silay, often referred to as ‘the Paris of Negros’ where Marits Valladarez journey began with just her husband and child crafting piaya delicacies that quickly became local favorites. 

Napoleones at Roli’s Café

Napoleones | Photo from Experience Negros Travel and Lifestyle/Blog

The napoleones is a beloved pastry celebrated for its exquisite layers of flaky, buttery goodness, and its sweet custard filling. Its name is from the French pastry mille-feuille, a nod to its intricate structure of delicate layers. 

One cherished spot for Bacolodnons to indulge in this iconic pastry is Roli’s Café. Established in the 1940s, generations of Bacolodnons have grown up with the café. From after-school snacks to weekend family outings, Roli’s has been a nostalgic haven, witnessing the joys and milestones of many lives. 

Bitso-bitso in Talisay

Bitso-bitso | Photo from Flavours of Iloilo/Blog

Another beloved kakanin (Filipino rice cake) is the bitso-bitso. Often referred to as “Filipino beignets” or “local doughnuts,” bitso-bitso is made from simple ingredients like flour, sugar, and water. These ingredients are mixed into a dough, shaped into small rounds or twists, and deep-fried until they turn golden brown. The hot, crispy pastries are then coated with caramelized sugar to give them a sweet, crunchy exterior. Some might even liken it to a local version of Krispy Kreme’s glazed doughnut. 

In Talisay City, bitso-bitso is a common sight in local markets and roadside stalls. One of the best places to find freshly made bitso-bitso is at the Talisay City Public Market. 

Batchoy in Bar 21

Bar 21 Batchoy | Photo from The Happy Trip/Blog

Originating from La Paz, Iloilo, this hearty flavorful soup has found a special home in Bacolod City, where it is lovingly prepared at Bar 21. 

Established as a beloved dining spot, it has become a go-to place for locals, especially in the afternoons when the craving for batchoy hits hardest.

Picture a steaming bowl filled with a robust, flavorful broth that has been simmered for hours with pork bones and beef shank. This meticulous process results in a rich, umami-packed base that is both satisfying and deeply comforting. The soup is brimming with fresh egg noodles and generously adorned with a variety of ingredients, including tender slices of pork, crunchy chicharrón (pork cracklings), and innards like liver and intestines.

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Sharyn’s Cansi House

Sharyn’s Cansi
Sharyn’s Cansi | Photo from About Filipino Food/Blog

Sharyn’s Cansi House has become an integral part of Bacolod’s culinary scene Established in the 1980s, Sharyn’s has perfected the art of cooking cansi (or kansi) over generations. The restaurant is famed for its rich, sour beef soup, which draws flavor from batuan, a local sour fruit, and tender beef that’s been slow-cooked for hours until it practically falls off the bone. 

For locals and tourists alike, a visit to Sharyn’s is almost a rite of passage. The restaurant, located at the Capitol Shopping Center on Narra Avenue, has become a designated stop for an authentic taste of Bacolod where visitors relish the buttery-soft marrow and the robust, umami-rich broth, which have been described as some of the best in the region.

Manokan Country

chicken inasal
Manokan Country Chicken Inasal | Photo from Lakad Pilipinas/Blog

Located along M. Ferrero St., opposite SM City Bacolod, Manokan Country is a vibrant hub of food stalls showcasing an enticing variety of grilled delicacies. The undisputed star of this culinary haven is of course, the Bacolod chicken inasal, marinated in a unique blend of local spices and grilled to perfection. The aroma of smoky, succulent chicken fills the air, beckoning hungry patrons from all corners. 

Each stall at Manokan Country offers its own take on the classic chicken inasal, along with other grilled delicacies like talaba. This variety ensures there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Bob’s Restaurant

sate bate
Bob’s Restaurant Sate Babe | Photo from Bob’s Restaurant

Bob’s is an iconic restaurant that has withstood the test of time, serving as a culinary cornerstone in Bacolod City since 1965. Originally known as Bob’s Big Boy Drive Inn, it started as the city’s first drive-in restaurant before evolving into a full-fledged dining establishment celebrated for its diverse menu and welcoming atmosphere. 

The restaurant’s charm lies in its ability to innovate while staying true to its roots. Bob’s is famous for its sumptuous burgers, sate babe skewers, fruit punch, and Mongolian bar Each dish is prepared with the same attention to quality and flavor that first won over diners in the 1960s.  

Beyond its rich culinary heritage, Bob’s is committed to supporting local farmers and suppliers, ensuring that their dishes are made with the freshest ingredients. 

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Cafe Bob’s

Cafe Bob’s | Photo from Mea in Bacolod/Blog

Cafe Bob’s, an extension of the iconic Bob’s Restaurant, represents a contemporary evolution of its predecessor. This relaxed yet refined cafe concept was introduced to offer patrons a modern dining experience while upholding the culinary excellence synonymous with the original establishment. 

Nestled within its own distinct ambiance, Cafe Bob’s distinguishes itself from Bob’s Restaurant by providing a casual setting ideal for coffee breaks and casual gatherings. While preserving signature dishes from the main restaurant’s menu, Cafe Bob’s also delights visitors with an array of freshly baked pastries, expertly brewed coffee, and other cafe essentials. 

Moreover, Cafe Bob’s boasts a deli counter where guests can indulge in a selection of premium cold cuts and cheeses, complemented by the option to customize sandwiches to personal taste preferences during their visit. 

Calea Pastries and Coffee

Calea Pastries | Photo from Apple Ochon/Blog

If you haven’t been to Calea, can you really say you’ve experienced Bacolod? Calea, renowned for its decadent desserts, is a cherished name in Bacolod. Their iconic shop is a perennial favorite, consistently drawing both tourists and locals alike, all eager to satisfy their sweet tooth. 

Calea boasts an extensive selection of sweets, with their bestselling choco mud pie standing out as a must-try. This luscious dessert features a rich chocolate ice cream cake layered with crushed chocolate cookie crumbs and walnuts. Calea’s menu also includes other mouthwatering options like a classic pecan pie and a refreshing strawberry semifreddo.

Baby Back Ribs in Lord Byron’s

baby back ribs
Lord Byron’s Baby Back Ribs | Photo from The Explorers Channel/Blog

Craving tender, juicy baby back ribs? Look no further than Lord Byron’s, a Bacolod institution known for its mouthwatering ribs. Since its establishment in 2007, this iconic eatery has captivated diners with its unwavering dedication to serving the city’s best ribs. Originally, Lord Byron’s menu centered around their famous ribs, quickly earning acclaim from locals. 

In 2015, Lord Byron’s solidified its reputation as one of Bacolod’s top dining destinations, leading to the expansion of their menu and the opening of new branches. Today, while their baby back ribs remain the star attraction, the menu also features enticing options such as spare ribs with wine sauce, sizzling pork sisig, cansi soup, and sizzling bangus. 

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