Hey everyone! How’s your summer break so far? I’m sure those of you who are on the holy-week fast, can’t wait to feast on Easter Sunday, yes? Well, here’s a restaurant that you may want to try. You’re welcome! Hee.
Alright, full disclosure first; a few months ago, I was invited and attended Supreme‘s bloggers event at this restaurant which generously served the food for the night.
Owned by the family of Mr. Jeffrey Pelayo (he is also the President of Supreme), Pinác: Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine showcases their family secret recipes with added modern twists that separate them from other Kapampangan restaurants. The restaurant is named after a road–Pinak–in Candaba, Pampanga wherein you could find the Candaba Swamp–a well-known agricultural land.
How to get there
Pinác is located at the right-wing, 2nd floor of UP Town Center–the latest and growing foodie hub in Quezon City. UP Town Center, located along Katipunan Avenue, is very accessible. Take your car, hail a cab, ride a tricycle or even walk if you live nearby. UP-Katipunan jeepneys also pass by UP Town Center. Parking here can be a bit of a problem during peak hours. A proper parking lot is still being developed but, currently, there’s a few parking spaces with flat-rate fee.
On a typical day, Pinác usually have available seats at any time but considering Katipunan traffic, you may want to adjust your travel time if you want to have lunch or dinner on time.
The restaurant’s interior reminds me of heritage houses in Pampanga. The exposed wooden beams, wood-paneled walls, antique-looking light fixtures, wooden tables and chairs, give the place a total rustic and homey vibes; it even has wooden banisters as wall accents. Yet it also has a modern elegance exuded by the mirrored wall, tiled floor, and a blue accent wall by the bar. With the exquisite ambiance and a perfect temperature (thanks to air conditioners), your appetite will build up fast; just like mine did.
Pinác can seat a lot of guest inside the restaurant but there’s also a few outdoor seating for those who would like an al fresco dining experience. Their tables can be arranged to accommodate small to large groups, perfect for family meals and gatherings. Don’t fret, they also have tables for two or one, if you’re on a date or just in for casual dining. No matter what, the place remains clean and spacious.
Also, they have art displays from time to time; there were paintings at the time of my visit. You can actually buy them by the way.
Food and Service
The menu is very straightforward with food list divided in categories; specials and bestsellers are highlighted. The names of their food are self-explanatory but in case you’re not very familiar with Kapampangan cuisine, you could always ask your waiter. Their menu offers a wide selection of Kapampangan dishes.
Most of the menu items are good for sharing with the exception on Salads. Sharing portions varies but it’s safe to say that normally, a single order serves 2-3 people. Weirdly, there’s no rice in the menu.
For starters, we were served with a huge plate of their Appetizer Sampler. This has four of their appetizers in tasting portions: Calamares (Php 195/single order), Sizzling Sisig Babi (Php 155/single order), Lumpiang Ubod Taquitos (Php 185/single order, bestseller), and Crispy Hito Balls, Mustasa at Buro (Php 235/single order, bestseller). With leaves on the middle, dips and appetizer components around it; I was sure it’s gonna be fun! I’ve never been this excited with appetizers!
The Calamares is a soft and clean-tasting squid rings covered with light and crunchy breading; this deep-fried goodness goes well with its dip. The Sizzling Sisig Babi (diced pork with onions and seasoning) is a Candaba variety (yes, there’s different kinds of sisig based on origin), it’s actually good but lacks the crunch and sizzle of being served on an actual sizzling plate.
Now let’s move on to the two most fun appetizers wherein you have to assemble the dish yourself. In Lumpiang Ubod Taquitos, there’s the usual ubod (heart of palm), green beans, and carrots, but what elevated this dish are the added shrimp and shitake mushrooms; the mix is drizzled with light peanut sauce. To eat this, simply spread the ubod mix on the fried wontons just like what you do with tacos. I swear, this lumpia has a special place in my
ubod heart. Hee. No wonder it’s a bestseller!
Saving the best for last, we have Crispy Hito Balls, Mustasa at Buro which so deserves its bestseller spot! The hito (catfish) balls were made of catfish flakes with herbs and spices, lightly coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried to perfection. Do the fun ritual of spreading some buro (fermented rice) on the hito balls, wrapping it with the mustasa (mustard leaf), dipping it in the spiced vinegar dip, and yes, finally, dunking it into your mouth, ahh! If you’ve never tried buro or afraid to try it, don’t worry, this one’s acceptable to anyone’s palate. Coming from a Kapampangan family, I’m very familiar with the authentic buro, so I can assure you that Pinác buro is a lighter version of this sour and salty delight.
I like how non-greasy the deep-fried selections are and that the sisig was not overly fatty. The two bestsellers make up for the other two not-so-stellar appetizers. I would recommend ordering the regular serving size of the bestsellers though. Nonetheless, there’s enough variety in this platter for only 350 pesos and they’re actually filling for a small group.
The next dishes are all Filipino favorites. This bowl of Sinigang na Ulo ng Salmon sa Miso (Filipino sour soup with Salmon head, veggies and Miso) tastes just like my aunt’s recipe (which we all love). The Salmon head tastes fresh and the veggies (mustard leaves, eggplant, and radish) weren’t overcooked. What’s nice about Pinác’s Sinigang is that it can be adjusted to your personal taste preference. The Miso paste is served on the side so you can control how much flavor you want in your soup. I like mine really sour, spicy and with a rich flavor of miso. A bowl of this costs 225 pesos and is good for sharing.
Next is this bowl of Beef Kare-Kare which deserves a spot on the best Kare-Kares in town! The beef is cooked well, it’s perfectly tender and very flavorful; it also has oxtail but I wasn’t able to taste that part unfortunately. The veggies–string beans, eggplant, pusong ng saging (banana blossom), and pechay tagalog (Filipino bokchoy)–were blanched and still has a bite to them. But the star in this bowl is the sauce; it’s a rich and slightly creamy peanut-based sauce. Its excellent consistency is smooth and has just the right thickness to it. Of course, a kare-kare won’t be complete without a side of bagoong (shrimp paste). For 345 pesos a bowl, a group of 3-4 will surely enjoy this.
Last, but definitely not the least, is this serving of Pinác’s Crispy Pata that made everyone happy. The pork knuckles (pata) was poached in aromatics for six hours then deep-fried to crispy perfection. With very tender meat that’s bursting with flavors and crispy skin, it deserves bearing the restaurant’s name and a bestseller spot! Served with soy-vinegar dipping sauce and Atsarang Capampangan–pickled vegetables composed of ampalaya (bittergourd), eggplant, and kangkong (river spinach). At 645 pesos per serving, reward your tastebuds with this sinfully satisfying dish.
Despite not being on the menu, we were served with steamed white rice to complement these classic ulam (viand). With all the appetizers and main dishes, we were absolutely full for the night but then again, a splendid dining experience will not be complete without a sweet ending.
Finally, for dessert, we had Suman, Manga, at Tsokolate–a sweet pride of Pampanga. The suman (sticky rice cake) were coated with grated coconut and fried then topped a few freshly grated coconut and drizzled with caramel sauce. The freshness and sweetness of the ripe mango is heavenly and impressive considering it was its off-season. And the tsokolate is one of the best I’ve tasted so far! This bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce is rich and has a thick and a bit grainy consistency. Enjoy this dish by dipping the suman into the tsokolate and having a bite of the ripe mango. The medley of flavors complements one another. While I highly appreciate the attempt to modernize and add texture to the dish, I wish that the suman was less greasy. For 140 pesos per serving, you may share it with someone but no one will judge you for wanting to have it all for yourself.
Everything we had was delicious and were served warm. Though I would prefer my savory food served hot and my fresh fruits cold. The service is good; the staff were nice and accommodating. We had to wait for our food or maybe we were just waiting for other people (it was an event after all). But when they started serving food, it went smoothly. I love how they gave us time to enjoy every meal by not serving everything all at once.
Verdict and other notes
Pinác is a great addition to Filipino/Kapampangan restaurants. While there may be a lot of them already, Pinác separates itself by having a modernized yet still hearty dishes. Pinác is admirable for sharing Candaba’s heritage through food and architecture.
Their food may be a little overpriced but it’s something I wouldn’t mind paying for. Nevertheless, Pinác gave me a pretty good impression. I will certainly come back for their Crispy Hito Balls, Kare-Kare, and Suman, Manga, at Tsokolate; as well as to try out their other dishes. Without a doubt, I will recommend trying out Pinác to everyone.
Pinác: Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine
2/F UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Operating Hours: 11:00AM – 10:00PM (S,M,T,W,Th) / 11:00AM – 11:00PM (Fri-Sat)
Contact No. 775-9450
Payment Options: Cash, Card
Other Services: Full Bar, Delivery via 2121212
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pinác-UP-Town-Center/304673946341960
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Disclaimer: I was invited to a food tasting and product launch event at Pinác. I am NOT paid to write this post. All thoughts and opinions here are based on my personal experience and are not prejudiced.