Like so many other chefs in those early days of Covid-19-induced shutdowns, Melissa Miranda quickly set up a takeout menu in March for her new restaurant, Musang. Nearly as swiftly, she stopped.
“We didn’t have systems in place and our menu wasn’t built to handle that kind of volume.” Even worse, simply slapping dishes designed for table service into boxes “didn’t feel thought out or intentional.”
She discontinued takeout and instead kept her Beacon Hill kitchen busy turning donations (of food, of money) into meals for whomever might need them. Her Community Kitchen enterprise, organized with several other talented local chefs, reflects coronavirus response at its finest—generous creativity rising out of the darkest of clusterfucks.
Now, though, Miranda is ready to try takeout again. Her Musang Lutong Bahay menu goes live May 6. She has translated familiar dishes from her restaurant—barely two months old and already a force when it had to close—into cooked elements you assemble at home. (Lutong bahay means, essentially, home-cooked food.)
From the sinigang to the adobong ribs, lechon, and grilled rapini at bagoong, “this is all stuff we had thought about for a spring launch menu,” says Miranda. And with a very few notable exceptions (her stellar lumpia, for one) everything is designed to travel, thanks to several rounds of R&D at Miranda’s home kitchen.
Takeout will happen Wednesday through Sunday from 4–8pm, so the Community Kitchen can still do its thing in this space Sunday through Tuesday. More details, and the current menu, happen on Musang's website. Miranda first closed her dining room a few days ahead of Governor Inslee's statewide stay-home mandate. By then I'd had three marvelous dinners in the converted lavender Craftsman and was excited to devise just the right words to convey in print how special this place is.
The sort-of return of Seattle’s most notable new restaurant of 2020 signals a shift as the city’s restaurants prepare for whatever comes after our current social distancing order. In recent weeks a wave of restaurants have entered, or re-entered, the takeout game—Marination, Café Lago, Fonda La Catrina, Cactus, the list goes on—as their owners eye long-term plans.
In chefs’ citywide discussion of when dining rooms might reopen, guesses pile atop conjecture. Some scenarios have servers wearing masks, and most people agree spaced-apart tables, and fewer diners, will be inevitable. Miranda’s doing her own calculus of safety measures versus a hospitable dining experience; she says it’s likely Musang will operate as takeout-only even after certain restrictions get lifted. After spending literally years building the first incarnation of her restaurant, she thinks this new one will be here for a minute. She built it as such.