Written by Jascha Arcenas, B.S. in Biology IV.
Aside from being labeled as the City of Smiles and home to the ever-famous Masskara Festival, Bacolod has something more to offer: a diverse range of food. I think it’s probably one of the things I love about this place. As a food enthusiast, my love for Bacolod food will never cease to exist because it’s a part of me that will always be there due to the fact of being a resident of Bacolod for almost 20 years. Through the years, people from other provinces as well as people from across the world multiply to experience Bacolod’s wide scope of food both native and international.
Apart from being home to the popular chicken inasal, Bacolod is also well known for its own version of a cross between bulalo and sinigang, as what other people would say. This traditional dish is known as cansi. What makes it different from bulalo and sinigang is that vegetables are excluded leaving the meat and the soup on the spotlight. In fact, there are different recipes of cansi but generally it is a soup that comes with beef shank and bone marrow. It is preferred to add batuan as a souring ingredient for the cansi to have an appetizing flavor. This flavourful dish is best eaten and is usually enjoyed on rainy days because nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction of slurping a warm soup to compensate for the cold weather. Since cansi has not yet lost its great value in the market and is up to this time enjoyed by many people, different cansi houses are still packed with both local customers and tourists who wish to satisfy their craving of cansi. Here are some of the cansi houses found in Bacolod that one should n ever miss to try and experience.
One of the cansi houses that serve the best cansi in Bacolod is Sharyn’s Cansi House. It is located in Shopping, which is designated as the Cansi Capital of Bacolod. Sharyn’s Cansi House is owned by Mrs. Delia Perez. At first, I thought the owner’s name is Sharyn but the cansi house is named after Mrs. Delia’s daughter. The owner showed hospitality and even roamed around the whole cansi house to check her customers. As I approached her to ask about her cansi business, she was really willing to share everything that I wanted to know. She even offered some peanuts to me while we’re having a conversation. I was amazed when she told me that Sharyn’s Cansi House started in the year 1985. Way back, their family business was into textiles and dry goods but they eventually set up a carinderia in which they serve food that are “lutong bahay”. The business went through series of changing names, from Sharyn’s Bazaar, Sharyn’s Carinderia, Sharyn’s Refreshments and ultimately to Sharyn’s Cansi House. I also asked her about what makes her cansi recipe different from others and she replied that it depends on the person cooking the cansi if he/she has a good sense of taste.
About the price of cansi back when she first started this business, she convinced me that cansi was 10 pesos only at that time and knowing that everything becomes costly as years go by, their cansi now costs 270 pesos. As years pass by, not only the price is increasing but also the number of customers that drop by to eat cansi. Aside from cansi, they also have turo-turo with dishes like lechon kawali, ginisang talong, and kinilaw na tangigue. She also opened up about the features of Sharyn’s Cansi House in magazines and on television and told me that she was surprised that there are articles circulating online about her cansi house. She was grateful to the people sharing about her business because she honestly didn’t have anything to do with those posts online. She isn’t open to the idea of franchising and as of now, she has no plans of opening another branch.
Also located in the Cansi Capital of Bacolod is Eron’s Cansi House near Sharyn’s Cansi House. This cansi house has been in the business for 8 years already and is still gaining a lot of good reviews for their cansi. In fact, it is named after the son of the owners. The restaurant is run by a couple namely Mr. Joern Baade, a German and Mrs. Erly Baade, a Filipina. Originally, this business wasn’t theirs to begin with because they just took over the failing business of their ninong due to financial reasons. Mr. Joern became interested to run it together with his wife and found out that selling cansi is a good business because cansi is a sought-after dish in Bacolod.
Their cansi costs 250 pesos but it is already good for 3 persons. Same with Sharyn’s, Eron’s Cansi House also serves other lutong bahay dishes.
Another cansi house situated at Shopping specifically in front of St. John’s Institute is Rodrigo’s Cansi House. It started with a partnership involving four individuals and their passion for good food. The owners wouldn’t want their names to be disclosed due to private reasons. Instead of having an interview to know more about the cansi house, I just left a questionnaire to one of the people working there and formally asked if one of the owners could answer it. Fortunately, I was able to obtain information about how Rodrigo’s Cansi House began. The owners observed and noticed that there are only few restaurants in Bacolod that specialize in cansi. This gave them the idea to establish Rodrigo’s Cansi House.
This cansi house just opened last July 2016 and it is not only found in Shopping but also, it has branches in Lacson and the Marketplace beside NGC. What makes their cansi unique among others would rely on the person tasting it, according to the one of the owners. Regardless of being new in the cansi business, Rodrigo’s Cansi House already captured the hearts of the people of Bacolod because of their delicious cansi. Customers really can’t resist their specialty up to the point that the customers return from time to time to satisfy their cravings for cansi.
Lastly, the only cansi house that serves cansi 24/7 is Bilbao Cansi House. It is located at Lacson Street, Mandalagan near Convergys. The present owner of this cansi house is Annabelle Bilbao. According to her, the business was originally owned and managed by her father for more than 25 years but unfortunately it failed because of mismanagement. I asked her the reason why she decided to open up his father’s business again and she said that her parents and her friends from abroad influenced her to bring back Bilbao Cansi House.
At first, they started with soup # 5, a soup made up of cow’s genitals and having aphrodisiacal effects on males but eventually, people requested that they make cansi. Later on, the cansi business flourished. Ms. Annabelle said that the people of Bacolod really longed for their cansi, which was also a reason for restoring her father’s business. When I asked about what makes their cansi special among other cansi houses, she told me that they see to it that they use natural ingredients and make sure that their meat is fresh from the market everyday.
So far, this cansi house has been serving the people of Bacolod for 2 years and is continuously receiving positive remarks on their cansi that costs 180 pesos only.
Upon knowing all of this, I came to only one realization. At the end of the day, people will always have a soft spot for traditional dishes just like cansi considering that people have different preferences of food and food trends keep on changing through time. As part of the Visayan culture, cansi is just one example that no matter how diverse food is nowadays, we will always long for our traditional food. Just by the mere fact that cansi is a sought-after dish even up to this time explains that our cultural heritage of food is still very much alive.
Sharyn’s Cansi House
Address: Narra Avenue, Capitol Shopping Center, Bacolod City
Owner: Delia Perez
Contact Number: 433-1374
Eron’s Cansi House
Address: Narra Avenue, Capitol Shopping Center, Bacolod City
Owner: Joern and Erly Baade
Contact Number: 435-2213
Rodrigo’s Cansi House
Address: The Palm, 18th street, Lacson, Bacolod City; Corner-Hilado-Tindalo Street, Shopping Center, Bacolod City (in front of St. John’s Insttitute); The Marketplace (beside the New Government Center)
Owner/s: SGMJ Big Leap Express
Contact Number: 09778018800
Bilbao’s Cansi House
Address: Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City (near Convergys)
Owner: Annabelle Bilbao
Contact Number: 09999181583 / 09294253450