#PampangaFoodCrawl: 7 Must-try Dishes

San Fernando, Pampanga is only about two hours ride from Manila.  It is usually a place my family and I pass by on the way to our hometown of Bataan.  While I may have visited the city once or twice over the past years (and usually on business), I have never thought of it as a foodie destination.  (I admit now that this notion is a bit odd, considering that Kapampangans are known for their culinary skills.)

Fortunately, I recently took part in the Giant Lantern Festival Bloggers Tour organized by the city’s Tourism Promotion and Caravan Sub-Committee, YALLA Book of Coupons and the Giant Lantern Festival Foundation, Inc.  Together with fellow bloggers, I toured San Fernando’s heritage sites and learned about the city’s thriving Christmas lantern industry and annual competition.  Plus, our group was treated to an EPIC seven-stop food crawl of the city’s top restaurants.

I can hardly keep myself from talking about all the great foodie finds discovered during the tour, so I wrote a curated list of the “absolute must-trys” that represent the various cuisines available in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Check them out and try to include these restos in your itinerary on your next visit to the area.

Baked Goods: The Original Cheesebread at L.A. Bake Shop

L.A. Bakeshop prides itself on being the “Home of the Original Cheesebread.” And, oh, its artisan cheesebread is really worth boasting about!  When served while still warm from the oven, it emits a sweet cheese-y smell that has you salivating.  Bite into it and the soft fluffy sweet bread gives in to the explosion of cheese flavor in your mouth. Enjoy it for breakfast together with L.A. Bakeshop’s Spanish Bread and Tsokolateng Batirol for a truly indulgent start to your day.

LA Bakeshop

Price:
Cheesebread: Php180 (box of 30 pcs)
Spanish Bread: Php210 (box of 30 pcs)
Mixed: Php195 (15 pcs cheesebread, 15 pcs Spanish bread)

L.A. Bakeshop is located along MacArthur Hi-way, Dolores, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, open daily from 7am to 9pm.  For inquiries, call +63 045 4360153 or +63 916 2623098.

Italian: Shrimp Bisque Fusili at Parmisano’s

An exciting take on the Pancit Luglog, this dish features al dente fusilli pasta tossed in a creamy shrimp sauce, topped with onion leeks, plump shrimp, soft-boiled egg and bits of savory chicharon.  What a fun way to enjoy a local classic!

Parmisano’s

Price: Php286

Parmisano’s is located at KM 78, San Agustin, City of San Fernando, Pampanga (across Vista Mall), open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12nn to 9pm.  For inquiries, call +63 045 4027639.

American: Grilled Beef Steak at Meats and Match

For the true-blue carnevore like me, there is nothing like the taste of freshly grilled steak. Sourced from local farms, cooked to medium doneness and served on a sizzling plate together with mashed potatoes and buttered corn and carrots, the meat is tender, juicy and oozing with flavor.  I love it when its accompanying gravy has caramelized a bit below the steak, adding a more intense flavor to every bite.

Meats & Match

Price: Php194

Meats and Match is located along McArthur Highway, Dolores, City of San Fernando, Pampanga.  For inquiries, call +63  998 9888917.

American: Double Smoky Mushroom & Cheese Burger at Roberto’s

Two juicy flame-grilled meat patties topped with a flavorful mushroom sauce and accompanied by crisp greens inside a warm burger bun. Crispy battered onion rings and tartar dip are served on the side.

Price: Php450

Roberto’s is located in Dolores (beside the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital), City of San Fernando, Pampanga, open daily from 10am to 9pm. For inquiries, call +63 998 9888914.

Seafood: Bag of Fresh Catch at Orange Bucket

Steamed or boiled crabs, shrimps and mussels in a savory-spicy Cajun-style sauce. It’s best eaten by hand and you can expect to be messy so take advantage of the disposable gloves and bib provided by the resto (it’s a lot more fun that way anyway).

Price: minimum order of 300g
Crab: Php540
Shrimp: Php450
Mussel: Php270
Clam: Php60

The Orange Bucket is located at the Erazone Square, Kalahi Business Road, Bgy San Isidro, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, open daily from 11am to 11pm. For inquiries, call +63 045 4022611, +63 906 2468000 or +63 998 8597750.

Filipino: Sizzling Sisig at 4MD’s Manukan at Ihaw Ihaw

Since Pampanga is the birthplace of the sisig, a Pampanga food crawl would hardly be complete without it. This dish is made in the traditional way: boiled and chopped pig ears and cheeks, seasoned with vinegar, and served on a hot plate with roughly chopped onions. I found this version dryer than other sisig I’ve tasted (which usually incorporate mayonnaise), but it did not detract from the taste.

Price: Php175

4MD’s Manukan at Ihaw Ihaw is located along MacArthur Hi-way, Dolores, City of Pampanga, open daily from 11am to 11pm. For inquries, call +63 045 9633283.

Dessert: Chiffonelle at Cafe Noelle 

Made from the recipe crafted by the chef’s family matriarch, this dessert treat is composed of classic chiffon cake with a decadent yema custard filling and butter icing. It’s simple and light on the tastebuds but absolutely wonderful.

Price: Php140/slice; Php 980/whole cake

Cafe Noelle is located at the Greenfields Square along MacArthur Hi-way, Sindalan, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, open daily from 10am to 10pm.

The #PampangaFoodCrawl helped to open my eyes to the many gustatory delights available in the city of San Fernando and I look forward to my future trips up north so I can explore more of the city’s dining possibilities.

Planning a trip up north? Check out these restos and be sure to head out and experience more of what makes the city of San Fernando, Pampanga unique.  Check out my previous blog posts on the city:

Disclosure: Together with other bloggers, I participated in a tour and food crawl sponsored by the city government of San Fernando, Pampanga. The experiences provided and food served were not paid for by the attendees including myself.

Novel churrasco dining experience at Chateaubriand, Roxas Boulevard

Being a certified carnevore, I jumped at the chance to dine at the Chateaubriand Premium Steak Restaurant, braving last night’s rainy weather and the perennial traffic from Quezon City to Pasay.

I’m used to eating steaks and grilled meats in a more casual, even American West-style setting, so setting foot on Chateaubriand’s walkway and stepping into its posh dining area was quite a novelty.  Nope, no cowboy hats adorn the walls nor down-home-type bric-a-bracs lie about.  Instead, opulent white chairs and tables are artfully arranged on the restaurant’s elegant marble floors.

The focal point of the sprawling dining area may be the tastefully presented buffet spread.  This buffet is pretty extensive with over a hundred items, catering to almost any preference as it includes:

  • a classic salad station
  • “Create Your Ceasar Salad”
  • authentic Brazilian dishes
  • Continental cuisine
  • imported cheeses
  • fresh fruits
  • a chocolate fountain
  • international breads
  • various types of pastries and desserts

However, as the restaurant’s PR representative Mikaela Mutuc tells it, the all the inclusions in the buffet actually are intended to serve as sides to grilled meats that the restaurant serves.

Well, true enough, the meats do take center stage and how!

The meats are all premium cuts, most of which are sourced from various countries, grilled and served churrasco style.  By flipping the medallions on your table, you signal the churrasco boys to bring their grilled meats and other grilled items in skewers straight from the churrascaria to your table and cut off a generous and juicy slice for you right before your eyes.  These include:

  • Picanha (signature Brazilian rump cap) – the real star of the show, IMHO!
  • Alcatra (top sirloin seasoned with a rich soy glaze)
  • Garlic Steak (sirloin marinated with garlic and fresh herbs)
  • Linguica (classic pork sausage basted with garlic butter
  • Frango (chicken quarters marinated with lemon rosemary)
  • Presunto (tender ham leg with pineapple glaze)
  • Milho Assado (baby corn roasted with garlic butter)
  • Abacaxi (pineapple with cinnamon and brown sugar)
  • Caramelized Banana (bananas with cinnamon and brown sugar)
  • Roasted Mixed Vegetables

More grilled treats may be added to the dinner menu such as:

  • Chuleta (rib eye with mesquite crust)
  • Fraldinha (choice flank steak marinated in Brazilian spices)
  • Lombo (pork loin with a delicate herb marinade)
  • Carneira (boneless lamb leg with a minted oil rub) – another winner for me!
  • Bacon-wrapped chicken breast with peri-peri marinade)
  • Pescado (grilled marlin or tuna)

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To add even more flavor to your meats, you can dip or slather them (up to you, really :-)) with any or all of these three sauces:

  • Chimichurri
  • Salsa Rojo
  • Chateau Steak Sauce

Note: Other sauces and dips are available at the buffet but these are the essential ones.

You can wash down your meal with any or all of the three juices available: Honey Orange, Four Seasons and Strawberry Iced Tea.

The service staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the resto’s offerings.  The churrasco boys, in particular, even give diners tips on how to better enjoy their selections and gamely display their grilled meats for food photos.  They are also quick to assist requests and queries.

Feasting on churrasco at the pre-Grand Opening rates below is actually a steal:

  • weekdays dinner: Php2,000 (Php1,600 within October 2018 at 20% discount) + 10% service charge
  • weekend lunch: Php2,000 (Php999 within October 2018 at 50% discount) +10% service charge
  • weekend dinner: P2,200 + 10% service charge

If you want some spirits to go with your meats, you can get some by the glass at Php300 per glass or treat yourself to Chateaubriand’s wine buffet at Php599 + 10% service charge.  Other alcoholic beverages and cocktails are also available.

Birthday celebrants also get to eat for free on the day of their birthday as long as they are accompanied by a full-paying adult, or on any other day of their birth month as long as they are accompanied by four full-paying adults.

While the churrasco-style dining may have casual roots, Chateaubriand’s opulent surroundings and top-rate service staff make it a fine dining experience.

Chateaubriand is located at Unit 105 Sunset View Towers, 110 William Street corner 2230 Roxas Boulevard, Brgy. 13 Zone 4 District 1, Pasay City.  For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 821 2031 or +63 905 1403748.

Chateaubriand Premium Steak Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Need some tips to maximize your eat-all-you-can experience?  Read my buffet survival guide.

Check out my reviews of other buffet restaurants:

 

A quiet place to work and eat (and even study!): Quarks & Quills, Banawe

Technology has enabled many changes to the way we work: with mobile devices, wireless data access and internet-enabled communications and file-sharing applications, we now have the option to work outside our offices.  In fact, doing so might even make us more productive: it takes us away from the stress of commuting and a lot of workplace distractions.

However, when working from home is not an option, remote workers are faced with a conundrum: where to work in comfort and still be productive?  And for foodies like me, where to get good food to fuel the day’s work.

Fortunately, Quarks & Quills Study Center and Work Cafe offers both a quiet and comfy space to work, as well as healthy comfort food to keep tummies satisfied.

Located in one of the suburbs of Quezon City, the cafe boasts of quiet and cozy nooks for studying or working, free WiFi access, as well as power outlets for charging laptops and mobile devices (essential for the “always-on, always-connected” peeps like me).

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Quark and Quills, Banawe

It also has function rooms upstairs for group meetings that can be reserved for a consumable amount (Php800 for up to 6 people and Php1,500 for up to 20 people). Reservations just need to be made a day in advance.

It also offers after-school tutorial services and enrichment programs in Math, Science and English for students.  Those who want to learn Chinese can benefit from Mandarin and Fookien held upstairs.

And thanks to a Zomato Foodie Meetup, I was able to sample its homey and hearty food offerings, of which I recommend:

Monte Cristo (Php125). French toasted sandwiched with a hearty filling of cheese and homemade ham.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Tinapa Wontons (Php105). Smoked fish flakes in wonton wrappers fried to a crispy golden brown and accompanied by a Spicy Tamarind Vinaigrette.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Gyoza (Php105). Dumplings filled with minced pork and aromatics which are steamed then seared for a crisp bottom.

Breakfast Bubble Waffle Set (Php195). Unusually styled (bubble!) waffles served with slices of homemade ham and scrambled eggs.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Its versions of Omurice, the fusion of omelettes and fried rice, also pack quite a punch: the Pork Katsu (Php195) with its fork tender pork bites drenched in tonkatsu sauce and the Miso Salmon (Php255) with flavorful salmon pieces drenched in the resto’s signature Miso glaze. These would go a long way towards satiating a hungry worker or student.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Sisig Silog (Php150). The combo of the slightly spicy sisig, egg and fried rice make for an energizing meal.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

For those who brought a big appetite, the best bets this resto has to offer are its Executive Meals: the BSS Pork Chop (Php335) – BSS means Big, Soft and Savory, by the way!) – and the Angus Hanger Steak (opening promo price of Php388). Both are quite good bargains considering the portion sizes, althought I would suggest specifying that the steak be cooked medium instead of well done.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Quark and Quills, Banawe

If you’re carbo-loading, you have quite a number of options among its pasta dishes: from its Creamy Alfredo (Php180), Fresh Tomato Pomodoro (Php190) and Fusili Pesto (Php205), all of which come with a cheesy twisty sourdough bread stick.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Quark and Quills, Banawe

You can also cap off your meal or gift your family for special occasions with the resto’s decadent sweet treats that come in slices and whole cakes. These include the Triple Chocolate Mousse (Php110 for slice | Php880 for whole) and Mango Graham Cake (Php135 for slice | Php1,050 for whole).

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Quark and Quills, Banawe

You can also opt for a S’mores Bubble Waffle (Php140). Apparently, at Quarks & Quills, the usual grid-style waffle is so basic. 🙂 This comes with some toasted mallows, a big dollop of vanilla ice cream and drizzles of rich chocolate syrup.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

Now, how to wash all those goodies down? I chose a light yet creamy Hot Jasmine Milk Tea (Php70), which I messed up during prep, hehehe!

I’m also intrigued by the Hot Chocolate (Php80) which involves pouring the hot chocolate over a grid of solidified chocolate and toasted mallows.

Whether you’re here to study, work or just go on a gastronomic adventure, Quarks and Quills definitely has something for you. My only beef is the resto’s exhaust that didn’t quite accommodate all the smoke from the cooking that’s going on.  Still, all the food and drink options will make your visit worth it.

Quark and Quills, Banawe

And guess what! You can book a table at Quarks & Quills via Eatigo and enjoy 20% off your food bill. Not yet on Eatigo? Sign up here, book your table and attend your booking before January 31, 2019 for a chance to get Php500 Eatigo cash voucher.

Quarks & Quills is located at 43-H N. Roxas corner Apo Streets, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City and is open every day from 7am to 11pm.  For queries and reservations, call +63 908 3719060, +63 956 0998913 or +63 2 8719502.

Quarks & Quills Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other Zomato foodies, I was invited to attend a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Steak lunch with the kiddos at Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

I took my kids to Mad Mark’s in Pioneer Center, Kapitolyo last Monday for lunch before we run our errands for the day.

I remember that we used to have our weekend dinners at its former branch in East Capitol Drive several years ago.  That was when Kapitolyo was the only foodie area in our radar.  We stopped going around the time when we discovered other food communities as well as other Mad Mark’s that were more conveniently situated in malls.

This new branch in Kapitolyo is definitely an improvement over their old one.  For one thing, it has twice the floor area and can accommodate more people.  Secondly, being located in the Pioneer Center compound, there are a lot more parking space.

This branch is definitely more spacious, allowing the resto to play around with a few minimalist decor and furnishings that give homage to its artisanal beginnings.

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

I guess my major beef with this Mad Mark’s branch is how undermanned it is.  At 11.30am, the time when most restaurants expect an influx of customers, it only has one person manning the store and most probably one cook in the kitchen.  This resulted to long waits for our orders and requests, as well as the unavailability of some items in the menu.

When we were getting ready to order, we were informed that only the “Grill Works” – the steaks, ribs and grilled chickens – were the only viands available.  Furthermore, of the seven side dishes on the menu, only plain rice, Garden Grains (Mad Mark’s version of fried rice), corn and carrots and smashed potatoes can be ordered.

We didn’t mind given that we just wanted to order the Signature Steaks (Php330), 150g premium USDA flat-iron steaks served medium-well accompanied by our choice of cream sauce.  We were lucky enough that our favorite side dishes were also available. The steaks and sides served to us did not disappoint: the meat was cooked as per our requested doneness and the sides and our chosen sauce complemented the steaks very well.

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

We also ordered Mad Mark’s own Home-Brewed Iced Tea (Php49) – which I found a bit too sweet – to wash the steaks down.

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

And, of course, a visit to Mad Mark’s will not be complete without ordering dessert.  Today, we decided to try the Liquid Cheesecake (Php160): it consisted of two pie pockets filled with a gooey custard topped by a scoop of Mad Mark’s Half-Baked Madagascar Ice Cream and drizzled over with thick chocolate fudge.  I don’t get why this dessert is named Liquid Cheesecake (and I really don’t care; my kids and I liked it!).

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

Mad Mark’s, Kapitolyo

 

This Mad Mark’s Creamery and Good Eats is located at Pioneer Center Supermart, 8006 Pioneer Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City.

Mad Mark's Creamery & Good Eats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my review of other steak restaurants:

Want tips on how to cook mouth-watering steaks at home? Check out these books at Amazon.com.


The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book: The Game-Changing Guide That Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes


The Book of Steak


Steak a Fork in It: Mouthwatering Steak Recipes for the Carnivore in All of Us

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Quick and Yummy Steak Lunch at Mad Mark’s, UP Town Center

I was happy to learn that a Mad Mark’s Creamery and Good Eats branch opened its doors at UP Town Center. While the resto is known for its artisanal ice cream flavors, it caught my heart with its Signature Steaks. At Php330 per serving, you get a 150g USDA flat iron steak (which gives you great flavor because of its marbling), and your choice of two side dishes and sauce.

During my lunch date with my daughter, both of us ordered this dish. My medium-well done steak was accompanied by Garden Grains (Mad Mark’s flavorful version of fried rice) and Corn and Carrots, while hers came with Garden Grains and Smashed Potato. We both opted for the savory Cream Sauce to serve as our gravy.

Both us ordered a glass of Mad Mark’s Homebrewed Iced Tea (Php49/glass) which we found a bit too sweet so we ended up diluting it with some water.

Mad Marks, UP Town Center

Mad Marks, UP Town Center

Mad Marks, UP Town Center

Mad Marks, UP Town Center

It was a good meal in a great location, with bright and colorful homey decor that made us feel right at home.

Mad Marks, UP Town Center

Mad Mark's Creamery & Good Eats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my review of other steak restaurants:

Want tips on how to cook mouth-watering steaks at home? Check out these books at Amazon.com.


The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book: The Game-Changing Guide That Teaches You How to Cook Meat and Poultry with 425 Bulletproof Recipes


The Book of Steak


Steak a Fork in It: Mouthwatering Steak Recipes for the Carnivore in All of Us

Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Get your first month FREE.

No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime and anywhere using your mobile device.

No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

Sizzle’s here at Sizzlin’ Steak, SM East Ortigas

Similar to its sister store, my first visit at this Sizzlin’ Steak branch was less than spectacular. The place was newly opened and the service team was still ironing out a lot kinks in the system as well as dealing with the deluge of diners eager to try out its offerings. (Yeah, yeah. I should have been more understanding). Anyway, that experience was documented here.

I was surprised that as a response to my comments, I was invited back to this branch (actually, to its sister store Teriyaki Boy) for a free meal. I took it up on its offer, of course, and took my family there for lunch that weekend. 🙂

As I’ve said in my post about the much-improved experience in Teriyaki Boy, the team went all out to show my family a good time. Our requests were quickly addressed and even anticipated: glasses of water were promptly refilled and our orders were quickly served.

Hubby and I ordered the same steaks we did during our first visit: Australian Marbled Steak (Php675). This cut of beef is characterized by its marbling, the intermingling of fat with the lean muscle. The greater the marbling, the juicier and tastier the meat.

The steaks were cooked to medium doneness: when you cut through the beef, you will see a pale pink center. The manager on duty, Acee, advised us to turn the steak over on the hot plate after a while so that the other side will also have some caramelization which adds to the flavor. She also advised to use the garlic butter provided and to sprinkle a bit of lemon juice to further bring out the taste of the steak.

I also had a Turtle Cheesecake (Php196) for dessert. It’s a rich cheesecake confection topped with sliced almonds and caramel sauce.

The week following this visit, Hubby and I returned and ordered a US Rib Eye Steak (Php575). This steak cut is also known of its luscious marbling.

So… I guess we have a new go-to place when we want to satisfy our steak cravings.

By the way, with the Max’s Group’s All You Can Wednesdays Promo, you can eat all the Beef Belly Strips you want at Sizzlin’ Steak from 2pm to closing time for only Php349, available all the Wednesdays in June.  More details are available in this blog post.

Sizzlin' Steak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Soul Food Feast at Morganfield’s, Ayala the 30th

The fam recently met up with the in-laws for a birthday celebration at Morganfield’s at Ayala The 30th.

Morganfield’s is a casual dining restaurant specializing in “good ole’ fashioned barbecued pork ribs with an extra dose of Southern hospitality” – the tenets of cooking what has come to be known as soul food.

Its signature dish – Sticky Bones – is made of slow-cooked and hickory smoked tender prime pork ribs, which are then basted with the home-made tomato/based sweet-and-sour mopping sauce, resulting to the “sticky bones” left when diners are done with the meal.

This and more were feasted on when the fam ordered Rib Sampler (Php3,295) sharing platter. It’s basically a humongous serving of 3 Flavors of Barbecued Ribs, loads of sausages, garden salad, corn on the cob, corn bread and french fries. For added meat, we also ordered a 300g Rib-eye (Php1,325), a juicy medium-done US rib-eye steak accompanied by a special garlic butter, baked potato and crisp garden vegetables. To represent the fruits of the sea, a serving of Beer-Battered Fish Fillets (Php395) was ordered. And, as if all that was not enough, we munched on some Onion Rings (Php155).

There was a wide range of hearty flavors and textures that made for a filling meal, albeit quite an expensive one as well.

The place had a fun and casual family-friendly vibe, helped by cheery and helpful wait staff.

This Morganfield’s branch is located at the 2nd Floor, Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. For reservations, call +6327213502.

Morganfield's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato