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Pampanga’s Cuisine

After a day playing in the snow and burning calories, we were craving the fatty, comforting goodness that Filipino cuisine provides.

We parked at the back and entered through the back. Doing so gave us an unfortunately grim look at the conditions of the space. The worn walls and grimy tile are off putting, however for those who know what is further inside, it is worth turning the blind eye to.

With limited seating and pre-prepared food kept warm in troths by way of heat lamps, the restaurant predominantly serves as a take out spot. And as was my critique of the new location: dishes here too are listed on the sneeze guard glass,but if you are not familiar with the cuisine, it is an uncomfortable guessing game of what is what and a gamble of what to order. Especially as the steam and condensation make the labels and the troths harder to see. You can definitely tell that their demographic is those who speak the language and are familiar with the foodstuffs. That is why I would never visit such a shop on my own, and depend on the translation and communication of those with me.

Our Homemade Bulalo

Having made our fair share of Bulalo, and recently being told that it isn’t authentic, I wanted to try the real deal today. Whereas we use corn to sweeten the broth and actual bone marrow pieces to grease up the soup, Pampanga’s version features beef shin bone with marrow cooked in beef broth with bok choy and cabbage.

Their soup was a lot more leaner than how we make it. The tendon used was less fatty and it drank cleaner with no tang or depth. It is a decent bone broth soup, but having expanded on the recipe I cannot help think that this one was lacking by comparison.

Our Homemade Adobo

Similarly, we were planning on making Adobo in the near future, so I wanted to taste what the traditional version ought to be. I have never made a dish that featured both poultry and pork like this.

However, my host informed me that Pampanga’s take was not the traditional version of the chicken and pork dish cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. It was on the greasy side, with tough meat, and had a prominent soy sauce flavouring. The recipe we would later make would be more closely aligned with the sweeter rendition prepared with a thicker gravy.

One of my favourite Filipino dishes (you really have to have at least 2-3 small servings to mix and match flavours and best enjoy Filipino cuisine) is Binagoongan. Pork chunks sautéed in shrimp paste and coconut milk. I like the creamy texture and the pungent flavour thanks to the fermented shrimp paste. This is best enjoyed over rice that sops up all that tangy sauce.

Dinuguan is another regular Filipino dish we order, and one you wouldn’t necessarily pick out if you didn’t know what it is. Its darken hue comes from the fact that it is small slices of pork cooked in pork blood and vinegar. As a result the sauce has a unique saltiness, along with a pasty texture. It almost feels pickled and strangely enough offers your meal a certain freshness.

Feeling adventurous, I wanted to try Balut again. I haven’t done so since a trip to Seattle, 4 years ago, and it wasn’t even authentic. This would be the real deal, the authentic Filipino delicacy. A fertilized developing egg embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell. The proper way to go at it is to boil it so that the insides are warm. Then to gingerly crack open the tip of the shell and sip up the liquid within. From there you peel back the shell to reveal the semi formed chick.

There is debate about the albumen, the white part on the left side. Majority of the time the albumen is rarely eaten, as it is very hard. However, some folks who I have spoken to say it is their favourite part. I had to skip on mine as it was as solid as a rubber ball, but far less bouncy. As for the rest of it, you eat it like you would any boiled egg. You dip it into a slight chilli spiced vinegar for the best results, as the egg has no flavour otherwise. The latter point springs the debate on why eat it in the first place? And why not spare the baby chick instead? For that, I guess the answer is tradition.

My first taste included beak and feet and I found the need to pick out both from my teeth. This version didn’t have any of the above, and therefore was much easier to chew and swallow with firm parts and more gelatinous sections in tow. A fun try to say you have, but otherwise nothing I would crave or want to have again.

We also grabbed a box of their Chicharrón, fried pork rinds, as a side snack. Crispy and crunchy, these heavily salted and seasoned chips of sorts are much better house made than vacuum sealed.

In conclusion, although they may be parting, they at least have another location to serve their community.

Pampanga’s Cuisine
5179 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC V5R 4G8
(778) 379-7003

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