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Discovering Pampanga: Six Homegrown Kapangpangan Restaurants You Must Try!

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“Food is our common ground. A universal experience.” -James Beard

Pampanga is known to be the gastronomic and culinary capital of the Philippines. With an array of delectable homegrown restaurants and authentic Kapampangan dishes that is rivaled nowhere else in the country, you are guaranteed an incredible and epic food journey when you have the chance to visit. However, not all of their epicurean offers are the same; some are more authentic than the others and some dishes would be more delectable when they are prepared by the innovators themselves. So, if you have a weekend planned in Pampanga—whether to visit the Sandbox in Porac, Pampanga Alviera, here are some of the best homegrown restaurants with dishes you can sink your teeth into:

1.) Binulo Restaurant- Clarkfield

This restaurant got its moniker from the Aeta method of cooking food in fresh bamboo. Known as one of the only restaurants to prepare food this way, Binulo is popularly known for serving diners only the best and authentic Campangpangan cuisine. To complement their array of local dishes, US grilled steaks are also on the menu. If you have a hankering for good home-cooked food, Binulo is the best place to go. Finish your meal with their excellent dessert of Suman and Mango ice cream which doubles as an ideal snack on a hot summer day.

2.) Historic Camalig Restaurant

If you have a penchant for trying a lot of Capangpangan dishes at once, then head on over to Historic Camalig Restaurant. Established on a century old ancestral grain depot restored in 1980, Camalig is now a restaurant that serves the famous Kapangpangan Pizza. The ambiance and good food would all be worth the long trip. For those who love to indulge themselves, the restaurant offers a Kapangpangan buffet as well.

3.) Angeles Fried Chicken

Known to be the Philippines’ counterpart and rendition to United States’ friend chicken joint, AFC or Angeles Fried Chicken is the restaurant for fried chicken lovers. Known to be one of the most popular restaurants in the city, their chicken has been perfected to be succulent and juicy at the same time. The recipe has remained largely unchanged and has been passed down from generation to generation.

4.) Everybody’s Cafe

No trip to Pampanga is ever complete without stopping over and having a meal at Everybody’s cafe. As the name itself suggests, the restaurant is just about for anyone and has some of the most exotic things in their menu. Unlike your typical cafeteria, you can find things such as betute (stuffed frogs) and camaru (crickets) on the menu which is perfect for those who are looking for a bit of a culinary dining adventure. Known to be one of the longest running restaurants in the city, this cafeteria has a lot of local dishes visitors should sample—from the Damulag (cured carabao meat) to the crispy duck adobo.

5.) Rainforest Kichene

If you are looking for a restaurant with a bit of an ambiance, head over to Rainforest Kichene in San Fernando. Owned by Chef Vince Garcia, the restaurant presents a subtle charm of forest-inspired ambiance that makes it not only inviting to eat but hang out as well. Largely inspired by a healthy and green eating lifestyle, some of the items on the menu are perfect for fitness buffs and sports enthusiasts looking to eat healthier.

6.) Susie’s Cuisine

Of course, a trip to the culinary capital deserves a souvenir and a treat which you can bring back home to share with your friends and family. If you are on the search for delectable kakanins and different Kapangpangan dishes which you can later feast on or give to family and friends, then visit Susie’s Cuisine. Although the restaurant is popularly known for its pancit lug lug, it has become the go-to place for people looking for something to bring home to their families.

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Culinary gems from Old Pampanga

Chef Gene Gonzalez will demonstrate how to cook traditional Pampanga cuisine on Feb. 6, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at The Maya Kitchen Culinary Center.

Recipes include Adobo del Diablo (Kapampangan adobo) with a deep bronze color produced by constant simmering and deglazing of the pan with stock when a crust is formed; Menudo Sulipeña (oxtail stew), slow-simmered dish of oxtail, ham and chorizo Bilbao with brandy; Pato Al Caparas (duck with capers), braised duck with ham and liver; Pasta Juan, chewy coconut bars; and Princess Cake, layers of butter cake iced with buttercream.

Gonzalez owns and runs Café Ysabel at 455 P. Guevarra St., San Juan. Together with his chef son Gino, they run Buenisimo by Café Ysabel at Scout Tuazon cor. Scout Lozano, Diliman, QC.

For inquiries, visit www.themayakitchen.com or e-mail contactus@themayakitchen.com. The Maya Kitchen Culinary Center is at 8/F, Liberty Bldg., 835 A. Arnaiz Ave., Makati, tel. 8921185, 8925011 loc. 108, 0929-6796102.

Winter food show

Sixteen homegrown social enterprises take the spotlight in Food Philippines’ third participation in Winter Fancy Food Show (WFFS) on Jan. 17-19 at Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, US.

“What food the Philippines will be bringing to WFFS are products that do not only stand out given their high food export quality, but those that advocate social, cultural and environmental stands,” says Rosvi C. Gaetos, executive director of Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, the export promotions arm of the Department of Trade and Industry.

“It is already recognized that specialty food items from the Philippines are of premium quality—natural, healthy and functional.”

Participating companies include Brandexports Philippines Inc. with Peace and Equity Foundation, Eighth Wonder Inc., Fruits of Life, JUD Products Philippines Inc., Mama Sita’s (Marigold Manufacturing Corp) and Philfresh Corp.

The Philippine pavilion will be at the South Hall of Moscone Convention Center.