Photo Essay: Musang – A Day in the Life

by Kyle Bender and Joshua Lee

North Beacon Hill, a neighborhood in Seattle already heavily affected by the renovation, was home to several Filipino restaurants, including Kusina Filipina and Inay’s, all of which are now closed. For Melissa “Mel” Miranda, a Seattle-based chef and restaurateur, her Musang restaurant is a way to bring familiar Filipino flavors back to the neighborhood with a more modern twist.

Melissa “Mel” Miranda, founder of Musang sits at a table in Musang’s outdoor seating space. “I [see] That this can serve as an anchor for our community, build relationships… making this a community-driven hub,” Miranda said. [we] It could inspire more people to get out here and take a risk to be here. [And] Obviously, to be here for a while.” (Photo: Kyle Bender)

“see her [as a] Miranda said. “When my dad first moved to Seattle, he actually moved to Beacon Hill, so I have a lot of memories growing up here. I think there’s a part that’s like, let’s create those memories again for people.”

The exterior of Musang in North Beacon Hill
Musang sits on Beacon Avenue South on North Beacon Hill. Musang serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday and serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings. (Photo: Joshua Lee)

According to Musang’s website, it started as “a series of breakfast, lunch and dinner pop-up experiences in 2016”, and officially opened its doors for full service in January 2020.

Dishes in Musang are photographed from above, including Pancit Canton, Pinakpet, and Shanghai Lumbiang
Bansett, Pinakpet, and Lulumiang Shanghai cantons in Musang. “There is also a lot of inspiration for our menu from our co-workers here, from the way we grew up being Filipino American and trying to incorporate that into what we serve here,” said chef Jounieh Ayala. “A lot of it also comes from Mel, how she grew up. Some of our dishes we’re famous for go right back to her childhood, like adobong pusit pancit, which is like the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten.” (Photo: Joshua Lee)

“I found out [Musang’s building] It used to be a social hub for people of color in this neighborhood who would go drop off their kids here, go to work, and pick them up at the end of the day,” said Musang Head Chef Jonnah Ayala. [it’s] It’s kind of like a full circle, because Musang…is more than just a home or like a place, location, or restaurant. It’s a movement, it’s a way of life, it’s a dream come true.”

Musang de food chef Jonnah Ayala sitting at a table, masked, talks about the spirit of Musang
Musang Head Chef de food Jonnah Ayala talks about the spirit of Musang. “[What’s] What is really important for us is to educate people [about] How can Filipino food taste, and I’ve seen a lot of people who came from Filipinos like, ‘Oh my God, it’s so beautiful. I’ve never seen Filipino food like this before, but at the same time, it tastes like home. (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Musang's internal message board reads "Let's get this pan from $al"
Musang’s interior decoration. Musang officially opened its doors in 2020 after operating as a pop-up chain in the region since 2016 (Photo: Kyle Bender)
A merchant document hangs on the wall in Musang
According to Musang’s website, the name derives from the founder’s father Melissa Miranda, whose nickname came from a black Mustang with a “T” sticker that fell. (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Bar manager and house manager Jesse Timamson poses for a photo at Musang
Bar manager and house manager Jesse Timamson pose for a photo in Musang. “There was, like, a bunch of Filipino restaurants all around us that just don’t exist here anymore,” said Timamson. “We always have to remind people that the history of this neighborhood is very rooted in this kind of diversity and culture. That’s why I know this place is going to be okay.” (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Phill Delapeña, server and waiter at Musang, poses for a selfie, hooded
Phill Delapeña, server and waiter at Musang, poses for a photo. “I think we have the potential to be the next Korean barbecue, or like Thai food,” Delapina said. “What we serve, our food, is really good.” (Photo: Joshua Lee)
View of Musang's kitchen from the house, with kitchen crew Kyle Ronquillo preparing to serve dinner
A view of Musang’s kitchen from the house, with kitchen crew Kyle Ronquillo preparing to serve dinner. “When we got the financing, we could open a restaurant anywhere in town,” Jesse Timamson said. “But it was really important to have him on Beacon because of the history of the Filipino community here. As long as we remember the roots of why Musang is in Beacon Hill, then [we] He can still move on.” (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Chef Jonnah Ayala leads dinner service at Musang
Chef Jonnah Ayala leads the dinner service at Musang. “Being a Filipino chef serving Filipino food? Honestly, this is not a dream come true, because I never dreamed of it, I never thought it would be possible for me [at] The caliber we’re doing now, Ayala said. (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Kitchen clerk, Kyle Roncello, stirs rice in the kitchen at Musang
Kitchen crew Kyle Ronquillo stirs the rice. Musang’s menu includes Filipino staples, such as adobong baboy, and Korean-Filipino fusion, such as kimchi-nigang. (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Musang's food preparation area, with booths for different foods visible
Musang kitchen, with kitchen employee Gerald Gutierrez preparing dishes. (Photo: Kyle Bender)
Mojito Passion Fruit Orange With Guava In Squat Cocktail Glass
Mojito passion fruit orange and guava. “Our food has a certain set of flavors that we hit,” said server and waiter Phill Delapeña. And we want to make sure the drinks don’t somehow exceed the meal. So, you know, POG Mojito with some lambia; It kills really well.” (Photo: Joshua Lee)
There is a Filipino flag and a diagram of the Musang dining area on the host stand in Musang
There is a Filipino flag and a diagram of the Musang dining area on the Musang host’s stand. “We could have been anywhere. We could have done well on Capitol Hill, like Beltown, or anywhere else, but here we are,” said Phil Delapina. (Photo: Joshua Lee)
Close-up of a frying pan with fried food in Musang's kitchen
Gerald Gutierrez prepares dishes in Musang’s kitchen. “What I’ve learned here, and the way we’re still hiring, is great, because we’re going to hire someone who’s never worked in a restaurant before,” said home manager Jesse Timamson. “It’s not about [experience]; We’re trying to create an environment here where you can learn, and we can train people. (Photo: Kyle Bender)

Kyle Bender Seattle arts and culture columnist, editor, and comprehensive architect. He has written on various topics, including the Seattle music scene, food and culture, tabletop role-playing and video games, and local government. Kyle is passionate about board games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, and works as a Level 1 MTG judge in his spare time.

Joshua Lee He is a final year student at the University of Washington studying journalism. Lee also works as Arts + Culture Editor at The Daily of the University of Washington, covering films, plays, concerts, and more.

📸 Featured photo: Kitchen staff Kyle Roncello (left) and Gerald Gutierrez (right) prepare to serve dinner at Musang in North Beacon Hill on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Photo: Kyle Bender)

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