December 8, 2016

Pinac: Heirloom Kapampangan Cuisine

Pampanga is not only well known for it's  dialect, beautiful locals and tourist attractions, but also of it's unique and homey cuisine. I have a lot of favorite Kapampangan dishes (except for the exotic/Fear-factor-ish ones) that's why I was excited when I had the chance to try this U.P. Town Center resident: Pinac.

Pinac is located at the second floor of UP Town Center, the building facing Katipunan Ave. Pinac is a Filipino restaurant owned by the Pelayos of Pampanga and offer heirloom recipes passed down from one generation to the next. 

Upon entering the restaurant, it will immediately give you that homey atmosphere reminiscent of your ancestral house: long tables, wooden furniture, wood railings, old paintings, wall lamps and chandeliers. Be transported to those good old times when you, your family and your extended family are all gathered for a Sunday lunch or dinner or an important family occasion. I loved it that when I was there there was a super long table filled with an entire family having a fun time while celebrating one of their loved one's birthday.

At the time of my visit, I was not able to sample their ala-carte dishes but only their buffet menu. Their lunch menu is at Php 259 and the dinner buffet is at Php 359. 

So here's Pinac's Dinner Buffet Spread:

Pinac's Crispy Pata -  Crispy pata is a Filipino dish consisting of frozen then deep fried pig trotters or knuckles served with a soy-vinegar dip. I like that their version just had the right amount of grease and the skin was super crispy too. Well, no one can go wrong with crispy pata. It's always a delight to eat one.

Deep Fried Chicken Skin - Surprisingly, this was not super greasy. All I can say is  that it was super crispy. I didn't eat much of this though, I only took a few pieces just  to try. 

Tortang Balasenas -  a Filipino torta refers to a kind of omelette made with eggs or eggplant, ground meat and sometimes with minced potato. Pinac's is made of eggplant served with tomato capsicum. At first I thought it was something else, but when I learned it was eggplant (one of my favorite vegetables) I straight up put it in my plate. It was so good that I went back for thirds. 

Chicken Pastel - stew made of diced chicken meat, sausages, mushrooms, peas and carrots in a rich, creamy sauce. I'm a fan of creamy dishes so I basically I liked Pinac's chicken pastel, although it wasn't so much of stand-out among all the buffet dishes that they were serving. 

Callos - Callos is a Filipino-Spanish dish made from ox tripe. The tripes are extra tender and not all rubbery which made it very pleasurable to eat. Adding the carrots, chick peas (garbanzos) and bell pepper made it flavorful.

Beef Kare-Kare - Kare-kare is a Philippine stew made of thick savory peanut sauce. This is one of my favorite Filipino dishes and Pinac's version did not disappoint. The tripe and meat were tender and the sauce had a creamy/milky texture which I like. 

Overload Paella - Paella is originally a Spanish rice dish. The Pinoy version is somewhat similar but of course it has already adapted the local Filipino flavors. The toppings or the ingredients of Pinac's is very generous. I just don't know what kind of rice they used for this, but all in all it was tasty. 

Suam na Mais - Native white corn soup topped with sili leaves. This was very creamy and it reminded me of Tinola actually, because of the sili leaves.

Besides the buffet dishes, we also tried some of the ala-carte items: 

Ensaladang Pako with Fried Itik Floss - fiddle head fern salad with salted egg, green mangoes, cucumber and tomatoes. This came with Pinac's own vinaigrette and topped with deep fried itik (duck meat) floss. I was the only one who ate it and I find it good especially the texture because of the great mixture of ingredients included in it. 

Flat Tops Smores - Yum! That's the best way to describe this dessert. Pinac used the locally well-loved milk chocolate Flat Tops instead of usual chocolate and it is one of my favorite chocolates in the world so yeah I was smiling when I was eating this. It's a bit messy to eat though, but I'm definitely not complaining. 

Puto Bumbong -  When I see puto bumbong I only think of one thing: Christmas!But now it's good that there's a restaurant that will serve this well loved Filipino desssert all-year-round. Though Pinac's puto bumbong is so much different from the ones that we're used to, they don't use grounded sticky rice but instead the real deal ubeng halaya. This puto bumbong is one for the books!

Drinks:  Lychee Shake and Cucumber Mint Dalandan. 

At first I thought the spread was so limited, but as the saying goes, never judge the book by it's cover. I was quite blown away after trying the dishes that composed their dinner menu. It was great that I was not expecting too much and then afterwards I was very satisfied. That's so much better right?

Second Floor, UP Town Center, 
Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
Contact No: 02 9585335 / +63 9178032150

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Pinac Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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