Cover Chef JP Anglo at his Filipino restaurant, Sarsa

There‘s more to Negros than just juicy inasal and great surfs—discover the foodie haven like you’ve never seen before, through the eyes (and stomach) of Negrense chef JP Anglo

You can take the chef out of Negros, but he’ll be damned before you take away his proud Negrense heritage. Whether through his intensive stint in Australia, as a judge on MasterChef Pinoy Edition, or back in the surf-friendly waters of his home province, chef JP Anglo has been a staunch advocate for Ilonggo cuisine.

Emboldened with an energetic, adventurous attitude, Anglo takes this fervour to Metro Manila and most recently, Dubai, with his Filipino restaurants Sarsa and Kooya. It is this earnest dedication to Filipino food culture that made the Negrense native a demonstrable choice for Tatler Dining’s Local Champion in 2020. 

See also: Kooya Culture: Chef JP Anglo Opens a Restaurant in Dubai

“When I think of Bacolod, it doesn’t just bring me back to my childhood—it pulls me back to all those moments that made me fall in love with food and cooking,” the rockstar chef narrates in one of his popular YouTube videos. “From the smell of the charcoal heating the crackling meat to the sound of the piping hot oil hitting the pan, these are all still so vivid in my mind,” he muses, professing “cooking and surfing share a similar kind of stoke.”

As the home province of formidable culinary titans like chefs Margarita Forés and Antonio “Tony Boy” Escalante, Negros Occidental is without a doubt one of the Philippines’ best-known food capitals. Naturally, we wanted to hear from chef Anglo about favourite dishes, ingredients, and eateries in the region he calls his own.

Read chef JP Anglo’s culinary guide to Negros Occidental, below:

See also: Chef JP Anglo of Sarsa On The Lessons He Learned During The Pandemic

Where in Negros Occidental are you from, and which cities do you normally visit when you’re back?

My family is from Bacolod City, [I was] born and raised there. Every time I go back, I go to my mom’s small farmhouse up in the mountains called Don Salvador. I also like going to Silay to eat good food and just to hang out, it’s super nice there. I do like going to Hingaran for really really good inihaw na baboy.

What do you consider to be the must-try dish from your region?

Must-try dishes… of course, our inasal; of course the original piyaya, napoleones, kadyos, kansi. I guess all the local favourites, kailangan. You have to try it if you’re there. Even if you’ve tried it already, you have to try it again because it’s really really good, and there are different versions of it.

See also: 6 Underrated Destinations In The Philippines To Visit: Bacolod, Catanduanes, And More

What do you consider to be the most underrated dish from your region?

Underrated, I think, is the chicken hubad. I don’t see it in restaurants, but in homes, it’s really, really good. It has banana heart, native chicken, lemongrass, ginger; it’s a gata dish. Yeah, parang in restaurants you don’t see it.

What is the one pasalubong you always bring back with you when you visit?

Of course, you can’t go back to Manila or to wherever without bringing the piyaya. And, as I said, there are different versions of it, and the ones you get commercially are you know, parang the taste… it tastes very generic. But then if you get the really special ones, then 'yun, day and night 'yung difference. Also napoleones—they make a really good version back home. I think dulce gatas is really good too, and something you don’t see out of Bacolod.

See also: A Love That Lasts: F&B Tastemakers Share Why They Love The Philippines

What is one ingredient you long for from the region that you cannot (or cannot easily) find elsewhere, if any?

I wish there was batwan everywhere. Even here in Dubai, I would always get questions kung we will be serving kansi. You can only make kansi if you have batwan, but unfortunately, it only grows in the Visayas and it’s very seasonal, kaya that’s one ingredient I wish I always had [with me].

What are your favourite eateries in that region?

My favourite eateries in my hometown would be Aboy’s, Luisa’s Fried Chicken, Manokan Country, Chicken House, what else… 21 [Restaurant] for their batchoy. Those restaurants are my favourites because, besides [the fact] that they’re really really good, it just brings a lot of good memories. They’re so nostalgic, they’re something I really grew up with. It’s part of who I am. Oh, and of course, Mushu, my restaurant.

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