Aside from the La Paz Batchoy, another legendary dish that originated in Iloilo is the Molo soup. Molo, the place, is another district of Iloilo city same as La Paz. During the Spanish era, it used to be the area where the Chinese settled just like that of Manila’s Binondo.
There are countless debates whether this dish is actually considered as “pancit” since it is a local version of Chinese’ dumpling soup and some say that it does not have “real noodles”. But roaming around Iloilo solves this question once and for all as the Ilonggos actually call it “Pancit Molo” and that they do have flat and short but elongated strips of flour based dough that may only be called as such – noodles. Here in Manila and elsewhere in the archipelago, Molo soup may or may not contain these strips of noodles. If they do, they are often cut from the same wrapper used to wrap the Molo dumplings. However in Iloilo and in Bacolod, they do sell these dried Molo noodles in groceries and public markets called “lang-lang” or “tao-chiam“. Households even prepare what they call “Pancit Langlang” (different from the Pancit Langlang in Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo; more on this on a separate entry) which is the same soup without the dumplings but rather ground pork mixed with the soup and noodles.
While in Bacolod, I asked our hotel’s front desk staff where to have best Pancit Molo – the answer was unanimous – at 21 Restaurant. That same night I head over to 21 Restaurant along Lacson St. for a bowl of it. This restaurant is one of the high-end fine dining restaurants in the city. For Php.140, they served me a bowl of the Pancit Molo. Initially, the presentation was not so appealing as the bowl is topped sparingly with green onions and ground garlic. But upon scooping into the soup, there are four huge pieces of Molo dumplings. These freshly made Molo “balls” are packed with a delicious ground pork mixture. The white soup is flavorful with some strips of lean chicken meat. However, there is too many Molo noodles for me. The bowl is almost 40% noodles and as you eat it, there seemed to be less and less of the soup itself as the noodles are also absorbing most of it. Overall the dish is good but not superb.
Upon going to Iloilo on the other hand, the locals have different opinions on where the best Pancit Molo is. Logically, I head over to Molo itself. At the highway going to southern Iloilo, about two kilometers away from Molo church, I alighted the jeepney at Tita Paz House of Pancit Molo. It is also a famous bakery called Molo County Bakeshop where one may buy famous Iloilo pasalubong. This cozy air-conditioned bakeshop is serving dining-in customers for their famous Pancit Molo to go along with their various breads. Customers may choose between chicken or pork dumplings. Frozen Molo dumplings may also be ordered for take-out. A serving of Pancit Molo is for Php.70. It already includes one piece of pandeciosa. A couple of minutes after ordering, my bowl of authentic Pancit Molo is served. The bowl of soup is generously topped with spring onions. The bowl contains five regular-sized dumplings, some strips of chicken, coarsely chopped shrimps, thin Molo noodles and more of the lightly flavored white soup – just the way I like my Molo soup to be – soothing and comforting. Pandeciosa, which is a unique Ilonggo bread, looks like a row of small buns joined together upon baking. Its semi-sweet taste and soft texture completes the relaxing experience of having Tita Paz’ Pancit Molo. Two thumbs up!
I was fortunate enough to be able to drop by Tita Paz during the Saturday of my stay since I recommended the place to a friend but was closed during her visit on a Sunday.