You never visit Bacolod and skip the batchoy at 21 Restaurant. It’s one of those classic to-dos when you’re in Sugarlandia—right up there with having inasal at Manokan Country, breakfast at Pendy’s, and merienda at El Ideal.
But since the pandemic has kept many of us from making our yearly Negros sojourn, thank goodness the people behind 21 smartly thought of bringing the restaurant’s beloved batchoy to Manila. Each order of this delicious treat is P600 and is already a serving for two—with all the ingredients individually wrapped, and the soup frozen, ready to be heated.
Everything is prepared in Bacolod including its famous broth, says Rianna Araneta Cuaycong who handles the distribution in Manila. The components are put together by her manong Paolo Araneta and his staff, driven to the airport in Silay, then picked up in Manila by Rianna. Rianna and Paolo are third generation owners of the business. 21 was founded by their grandmother Lydia Dela Rama Gamboa.
The batchoy-in-a-box is the establishment’s response to the pandemic. Bacolod’s food businesses have really been hit hard by the health crisis, especially because the number of Covid cases in the city have yet to drop to less-concerning digits. 21 itself has not been able to keep all of its staff. Bringing the batchoy to Manila is the Gamboa family’s way of trying to help out the crew they had to let go and hope to hire again.
Rianna tells ANCX the batchoy is just the beginning of this effort to give assistance. They’ve also reached out to other food establishments in Bacolod to bring their products to Manila as a way to help Negrense businesses. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the 21 batchoy first. Some people quibble over the absence of liver in the mix of ingredients but, believe us, you’ll hardly notice it’s not there. It’s as good as we remember it. Having it for breakfast, it’s like waking up in Lacson Street.
[To order, call 0956-389-3866, 09077448118> Delivery via Grab and Lalamove.)