molo soup, lapaz ba-chui. comfort food that bring about memories of childhood on a late afternoon, trooping to a ba-chui house amidst the noise of patrons slurping up the soup. paired with sio-pao, it's a perfect end to a hectic summer day. (click on read.more for more food reviews)
the last time i had really good ba-chui was when i spent the night in kalibo aklan on my way to boracay. ted's, a popular ba-chui house in iloilo has since gone commercial and opened branches in malls. expectedly, the quality has gone down.
The heart of real ba-chui is the soup stock: leg of beef and pork boiled for long periods to extract the sinfully rich bone marrow similar to batangas bulalo stock. healthier versions use shrimp or chicken stock but it does not compare to the rich flavor of beef or pork soup stock.
in cebu, there's only one place that offers ba-chui, or at least a passable version of this favorite meal: carlo's. the original outlet was a rundown joint - the sort of place where you don't know exactly know what's happening in the kitchen except that they serve decent, cheap and flavorful food. the place has become a popular destination for barkadas on a night out and ending up downing a bowl of ba-chui before heading home. disclaimer: the ba-chui, or the soup in particular, is not as good as the original la-paz concoction but is passable to a certain degree.
they recently moved across the road (osmena boulevard, near capitol) to a commercial complex where they have upgraded their restaurant but still serve the same menu, same price, same flavor.
there are days where i finish some work for clients at two in the morning and find myself heading off to carlo's to grab something to eat. despite a pretty decent menu, my choices are limited to lechon kawali, pancit canton, chicken curry, crispy chicken and of course the ba-chui. beware, i have attempted to order the molo soup a number of times and have always been told that it wasn't available. either it's that good or i suspect that they are just too lazy to prepare the dish that is a bit meticulous in its preparation.
Lechon Kawali - taken from the pork belly section, the cut is not the usual loin cubes that has generous layers of fat with meat. this version is the "dieter's" choice with very little fat.
Pancit Canton - despite it's unappetizing color, it easily is the most delicious dish served with the unmistakable soy-sauce garlic heavy flavor. though the meat cuts are chunky, they lack the fatty layer that could have made this dish better.
Chicken Curry - the aroma of curry mixed with coconut cream is fantastic as rice topping. The dish literally swims in its sauce. The chicken portions are not that big and suspiciously looked like left-overs.
Price is one of the biggest factors for the popularity of this place. The special batchoy costs Php 45, Php 60 for the lechon kawali, Php 60 for the pancit canton, Php 65 for the chicken curry. Add to that two cups of rice and diet coke and the bill came up to about Php 280.
the food is nothing spectacular, but if you're on a budget and you need a hot bowl of soup in the middle of the night (they're open 24 Hours) to induce heavy-eyelids then this place is definitely worth a visit.
The Boulevard, Capitol,
Osmena Boulevard, Cebu City