When it comes to celebrations, it’s a must to have Pampanga food on the table.
For our monthsary, RJ sweeps me away to this Filipino restaurant with a bias for Pampanga cooking. And after a long afternoon of book shopping at Logos Hope, RJ and I couldn’t wait to fill our bellies with Pampanga food.
Stepping out of the cab, I find myself completely floored with its romantic interiors, coupled with the soft glow of its warm lights. Accents of stained glass color the room and for a moment, I feel like Cinderella stepping out of the carriage and walking into the grand ballroom.
Entering the door, I hear an acoustic band playing in the background and I just squeeze RJ’s arm. This is EXACTLY what I asked for for our Valentine’s date! (It’s past Valentine’s Day, but it doesn’t matter.)
I looooove live bands in restaurants. They just add so much emotion to the overall dining experience. I find myself blushing as the band of three serenades us with old kundiman songs (and some of our requests!) during our meal. I’m not used to getting this much attention and pampering from a restaurant. I really feel like Cinderella for the night!
With growling stomachs demanding us to get food into our system right away, we ask our server to go ahead with our appetizer as we ponder over our main courses.
Enticed by the thought of having baby squids, we start off with their Sinuteng Baby Pusit. These squids are sauteed in sundried chilies, garlic and in an oh-so-fine olive oil! We keep tilting the plate and spooning out the dish, hoping for another drop of their fruity and silky smooth olive oil. The squids are cooked to perfection, very tender to bite, met with very little resistance, but its really the olive oil that seals the deal for this dish.
With such a great appetizer, we choose one of the restaurant’s specialities to follow that act, Binukadkad na Crispy Pla Pla. This artistic culinary creation of fried pla pla fish is a beauty, screaming for a photo session. However, after just a few shots, RJ tears away its “butterfly wings” and sinks his teeth into its gorgeous yellow coating. It’s crispy on the outside, yet soft and mildly milky underneath.
I love the fact that this giant tilapia is cut perfectly, making it easy to remove the bones. While RJ gets his hands dirty sucking on the fish, I use my fork to pull away the bones. I slip in slivers of this pla pla in my mouth, initially I hear crackling from its crispy exterior, but then the meat inside hits my tongue and it melts away like butter, delivering me to creamy heaven.
Speaking of heaven, I also send our food up to heaven with our order, Betute. This may seem like taboo to many, especially at the sight of headless farm frogs, but this is a popular Pampanga delicacy. Families in the farmlands of Pampanga used to bond over frog catching sessions during rainy seasons. The outwitted frogs are then stuffed with minced pork and deep-fried until golden brown.
I have eaten frog legs in Binondo, but it’s extremely intimidating to see the entire frog on a plate – especially a headless one! It takes me awhile to pull a frog from its bed of tomatoes and cucumbers. But since I’m the one who chose this dish, I man up, dive my utensils in and cut the frog open like I’m in Biology lab. Only this time, I don’t see a pair of popping lungs, but an overflow of fleshy pork.
I feel a tinge of guilt come over me and in my head I hear an endless accusation, “frog killer, frog killer, frog killer!” I quickly spoon out the stuffing, tear away the legs and push the body of the frog as far away as possible. Without its headless torso looking at me, I eat my frog in peace – finally!
These stuffed frogs are really good if you rid yourself of the guilt and the initial intimidation that comes along with it. I promise myself not to eat another stuffed frog in the near future, yet I find myself eating another frog in Pampanga just the following weekend. Hehe. Peace, frogs!
Midway through the meal, I tug on RJ’s sleeve, radiate a sly smile and whisper, “Do you want to order sisig?”
I know, GLUTTONY in the works here! In my defense, I just can’t imagine a Pampanga feast without their famous sisig. Served on a sizzling hot plate, this dish is a mixture of pig’s head meat, shallots, vinegar and chilies. I’m aware that it sounds downright unhealthy and admittedly, it is, hence the name, Sisig Pampabata.
Food is RJ’s absolute weakness, so we order this sinful Kapampangan concoction along with our third cup of rice – that is our third cup of rice each! Hehe, we tend to get carried away when we absolutely adore the food. The service is equally impeccable as well. I honestly believe that their waiters are gifted mind readers. They seem to know everything we want even if we’re just about to call their attention. Just as I am about to raise my glass for water, I find the waiter standing right beside me with a pitcher of water. Woah. Mind readers, I tell you.
Finally, to end our Kapampangan dinner, RJ and I indulge in Bistro Remedios’ vanilla ice cream dessert, Mango Jubilee. “Vanilla ice cream” are the keywords to RJ’s heart when it comes to dessert. Remember the Sticky Toffee Pudding in Cafe Juanita and the Flaming Mangoes in Cyma?
This time, vanilla ice cream is paired with flambeed mango balls. How I wish I witnessed these mangoes go up in flames, just like in Cyma (“Opa!”). Nevertheless, I love how the ignition caramelizes the mangoes, inducing it to produce a thick and shiny mango syrup. Balanced off by the mild flavor of vanilla, their Mango Jubilee leaves a pleasant sugary ending in my mouth.
If only Malate isn’t so far away, I wouldn’t mind coming back to Ang Bistro sa Remedios over and over again to step into the restaurant’s fairytale-like magic. Put together their superb service, their charming interiors, a live band and their amazing Kapampangan food, and you have a recipe for a romantic date that would make any girl blush. I sure did.
PS. If you are interested to join a Culinary and Heritage tour of Pampanga, you can contact Osep at +63917-387-387-6 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our traveling group is currently offering our Pampanga day tour at an introductory price!
More Info on Ang Bistro sa Remedios:
Address: 1911 M. Adriatico Street, Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila Contact: 523-9153 or 523-9153 Operating Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm & 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm Sat – Sun: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm & 6:00 pm – 12:00 pm Menu: Click Here Price Range: Php250-300/head Service Charge: 9% Attire: Smart Casual Parking: In front of the restaurant (quite difficult) Other Blogs on Ang Bistro sa Remedios: Jin Loves to Eat: Bistro Remedios <3 <3 <3 Lakwatsero: Ang Bistro sa Remedios The Manila Girl: Pinoy Dining at Bistro Remedios