Food Trips For Everyday

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Friday, July 25, 2014


By Ching Pangilinan
Culturati

I AM not much of a food blogger or writer but I believe that every Kapampangan must have been nurtured, if not born, as foodies. Most Kapampangans I know have quite impeccable and discerning tastes when it comes to food, small wonder we have in Pampanga some of the best restaurants and eating holes in the country, catering to people from all walks of life.

For people who lead such busy yet simple lives and who cannot afford to go on trips frequently, there are everyday finds in Pampanga that are more than enough to satisfy foodie cravings.

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One of my favorite eating holes in Angeles City is totally unpretentious and serves Thai dishes that I count as comfort food. I first discovered Siam House along Friendship Avenue through known Kapampangan foodie and event organizer Kuya Poch Jorolan and I also have shared this place with friends and family since then. My favorite dishes at Siam House are the Seafood Tom Yum, Pad Thai, Chicken Satay and Som Tam done as spicy as they should be and great for cold rainy days.

In my hometown of San Fernando, one of my favorite places for brunches is the LA Bakeshop and Deli along MacArthur Highway in Dolores. Aside from the iconic cheesebread and Spanish bread that they bake, I particularly like their Bagoong Rice which I usually pair with a single order of Boneless Daing na Bangus, deeply fried to crisp perfection. Their Hornong Liempo and Lechon Macau are really good and succulent. The adaptive reuse and recycling of found objects contribute to the very interesting ambiance that the place enjoys. If parking is a problem, try to check for available spaces at the commercial buildings near this deli.

If you are looking for a cozy place for coffee dates with friends and family, try Cafe Noelle, Greenfields Square in San Fernando. If there is one restaurant/food establishment that pays homage to Christmas the whole year round in our city, it is this one. While I also love coffee with a lot of variations from international chains, sometimes I prefer the simple beauty of a cup of nameless brewed coffee such as that in Cafe Noelle, which I usually like best with a slice of red velvet cheesecake. Their pasta dishes and their lengua are also winners. However, some of the service staff forget to smile sometimes, but maybe that is also something which we can order.

For barkada dinners that take the nature of DIY, manukan and ihaw-ihaw places in Santo Tomas have gained much popularity among young professionals like me. Whenever we eat out in big groups with people who share big appetites, we usually head to Funnside Ningnangan in San Matias where we feast on everything grilled. I have a weakness for the grilled chicken liver and hearts and I also found the leche flan they sell at Funnside creamy and yummy. While there is no air conditioning available, the area is well ventilated and they have ample parking space.

I am a fan of streetfood but I also have qualms about diseases like Hepa B and stuff that urban legends are made of. I feel quite lucky to discover in San Fernando a street food stall that is relatively more sanitary than the others. By this I mean that the metal counters of the food cart are kept clean, they offer tissue paper along with the usual disposable sticks and plastic cups, their servers wear aprons and hair nets, and their sauces are in containers that have ladles. The name of the stall escapes me but it is located in front of Pampanga Hotel and Ocampo’s Appliance Center along Gen. Hizon St. on the left side of the Metropolitan Cathedral. Their crispy isaw is among the best that I have tasted in my life, minus the guilty feeling of eating so-called dirty streetfood.

When time and money are valid concerns, let us not be discouraged in finding simple pleasures within our neighborhoods and communities. There just might be a little cafe or eating hole that’s awaiting our discovery. Until our next food trip…

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 26, 2014.

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