Pampanga is touted as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, and why not? The Kapampangan cuisine is legendary. If a Pampanga food trip is what is on your mind, it will be surely helpful to determine which food you must try first before gearing up to go to the province.
Be prepared though because the dishes are so exotic you won’t find most of them in the usual Filipino household menu.
Did you know that the Kapampangans spend about 70% of their time during the day on the kitchen? Yes, they do. Perhaps, they are preparing any of the dishes and delicacies listed below.
Murcon is like embotido, but this Kapampangan embotido combines ground pork and ground beef. Chorizo de bilbao, and perhaps the addition of pimiento, is what makes morcon pungently tasty.
Frogs used in betute are farm-raised, so these are safe to eat. The filling is usually ground beef although some Pampangueños experiment with ground pork or ground shrimp as filling.
Kapampangans cook tocino by adding a little water (just enough to cover the meat) and cooking oil. The meat is cooked until it turns reddish brown. The locals eat pindang kalabaw with sukang sasa, which you should certainly try once you embark on a Pampanga food trip.
Kamaru is cooked like ordinary adobo using sukang sasa. However, some locals enjoy the exotic food when it is braised with tomatoes and vinegar before sautéing them.
Sisig is originally from Angeles City, and Luciana Cunanan (aka Aling Lucing) was the one who invented the dish. Sisig is made mostly from pig’s head. The meat is boiled, grilled and fried before putting it on a sizzling plate and after slicing it in bits.
Buro is typically mixed with shrimp or fish. Buro is best eaten with fried hito (catfish), mustasa (mustard leaves) or boiled vegetables such as eggplant and okra.
Bringhe is a rice dish. Bringhe is usually cooked with luyang dilaw (turmeric) and gata (coconut milk). The dish is topped with carrots, bell peppers and boiled eggs. Sometimes, chicken leg quarters are put in the middle as topping as well.
Crab fat is sautéed on garlic. It is best-served with calamansi or lemon juice. Sometimes, the crab fat is mixed with prawns and grated cheese. After completing your Pampanga food trip, you might as well take home some bottled crab fat.
Bulanglang kapampangan is like a typical sinigang. However, sinigang uses tamarind paste while bulanglang makes use of native guava. Kapampangan’s bulanglang has ulang (prawns), pork or milkfish belly as its main ingredient.
Tibuk-tibuk is one of Kapampangan’s best-tasting desserts. Tibuk-tibuk is made from carabao’s milk and has a latik on top. A hint of dayap zest (local lemon) is added.
Halo-halo, which means ‘mixed’ in English, is made from sweetened ingredients poured into the glass bottom before putting the crushed ice above them. Leche flan, ube halaya or both is placed at the top after pouring carabao’s milk generously.
This Pampangan cookie is made using a very few ingredients. What makes the panecillos special is its intricate design. A hand-carved mold of San Nicolas is used in making the cookie. The cookies are best-served with hot coffee and chocolate de batirol.
Turrones de casuy is like nougat-like delicacy made from chopped cashew nuts. The turrones is wrapped in edible paper-thin wafer.
Everybody’s Café is one of the restaurants that serve authentic Kapampangan cuisine, and its menu is practically the same since it was first created in the 1960s.
Aling Lucing’s Sisig is the home of the first ever sisig. Lucia Cunanan, or simply Aling Lucing, is dubbed as the ‘Sisig Queen.’
Mila’s is one of Pampanga’s well-loved carinderias in Angeles City. Although it was mostly known for its tokwa’t baboy, people cannot help but try another best-seller, crispy sisig.
For kakanin and Kapampangan dessert, Susie’s Cuisine is the place to be. Operating since 1972, their best-sellers, aside from pancit palabok, include sapin-sapin, mochi and maja blanca.
Razon’s of Guagua is mostly known for its minimalist halo-halo. Its version only has sweetened plantains, shredded macapuno and leche flan.
Another famous Kapampangan halo-halo is that of Kabigting’s. Kabigting’s halo-halo is dubbed as the Pride of Arayat, having been hailed from Arayat, Pampanga. It only has three ingredients also namely mashed kidney beans, carabao mil pastillas and cream corn.
Formerly called Downtown, the Chef Claude Tayag-owned restaurant imbibes the old downtown feel. When Kapampangans say ‘go to downtown,’ it means spending quality time with loved ones and friends. You can taste authentic Kapampangan food here at 1956 Downtown Café.
Another Chef Claude Tayag restaurant in the list is Bale Dutung. It is famous for its five-way lechon including lechon sisig.
A farm restaurant in Pampanga, Abe’s Farm creates a nice ambiance with its nipa hut-themed dining area. It was formerly a resthouse.
Binulo Restaurant gets its name from the Aeta method of cooking using fresh bamboo. The restaurant’s signature dishes include binukadkad na hito, pangat na ulang, paco salad, and binulong nasi.
Atching Lillian Borromeo is a food historian, one of the pillars of Kapampangan cuisine. Kusinang Matua is her open-air kitchen where traditional Kapampangan specialties are cooked to the delight of the guests. Her most famous creation is the Sanikulas biscuit.
Carreon’s Sweets and Pastries has been serving tasty Kapampangan pasalubongs since 1946. Their famous delicacies include pastillas de leche, silvanas and carabao milk pastillas.
Another bakeshop to satisfy your sweet tooth is FNC-Nathaniel’s Bakeshop. Its most popular product is the buko pandan salad.
Camalig Restaurant is home to the famous Kapampangan pizza. The restaurant also offers Kapampangan buffet.
Operational for more than 30 years, 19 Copung Copung is your friendly neighborhood after-work hangout. The restaurant serves Filipino and exotic cuisine served on banana leaves buffet style.
Didi’s Pizza is one of the popular restaurants that serve pizza. However, it serves Filipinized pizza and not the usual Italian pizza. It sells more than 200 boxes of pizza everyday.
Gill’s Sherbet is Nepo Mart’s pride. One of its best-sellers is the buko lychee sherbet.
With the renowned chef, Chef Sau at the helm, Café Fleur is a three-restaurant concept consisting of Café, Leh-Leh and Bâbo. Kapampangan food such as swam mais, lengua, kare-kare, and crispy okoy are served at Bâbo. True to its name, it serves Kapampangan and French fusion cuisine.
Apag Marangle serves authentic Kapampangan cuisine, although it is more lenient to the exotic choices such as adobong camaru, sizzling balut, and relyenong betute.
You can only say that your Pampanga food trip is complete by eating any of the authentic Kapampangan dishes or delicacies noted above. The same goes for eating in any of the eateries discussed above as well. Eating what the locals are eating and seeing how the locals prepare the food are what make such a trip a gratifying experience.