Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pamana: A Heritage of Filipino Cuisine

Welcome to Pamana, a family's heritage of Filipino cuisine. Located beside the Boutique Bed and Breakfast in Tagaytay City, Pamana is a striking establishment that adds to the already long list of good restaurants in the city by the cliff. Pamana is charming, having a white facade, that is very inviting. As you enter, there is a small shop that sells local handicrafts and delicacies. The country Filipino home feel extends as you go up the staircase, where a collage of framed memories from the distant and no-so distant past of the Ongpauco family who are the owners of Barrio Fiesta and also The Boutique.


You immediately get excited to see where you will be dining. The ambience of Pamana is top notch, as you would notice how much heart has been put in designing the place. There are more picture frames, and more walls that display the family that has preserved this culinary heritage.


The place is modern, but has antique pieces to give that old feel. So, in terms of design, it strikes a good balance. There is a terrace that is small, and a rooftop that is just bare. You only have hardwood tables and chairs overlooking the Taal Lake. So it's best to stay indoors.


As you sit down, you would notice the sungka tray that contains condiments that Filipinos love. It's a nice way of presenting, though I wondered if the condiments were fresh and clean, since they were just exposed (i.e. dust). There is also a bottle of Ilocos wine on each table. We weren't able to try it though.


We ordered a Pandan Ginger Iced Tea in a carafe. You can order by the glass as well. The drink was very refreshing, though the ginger was a little bit overpowering. But you'll get used to it after a while.


We had a snack 2 hours before getting to Tagaytay, so we weren't that hungry. We decided to get 3 dishes for a group of 5. We ordered the Sinanglay (P185), fresh tilapia stuffed with tomatoes and onions cooked in native spices and coconut milk. The tilapia was fresh, given that tilapia country is found down below in Taal Lake. Nothing special though. I though it needed more salt.


The Tinuktok (P275) was the best dish for me. It was minced coconut meat, shrimp and spices wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in coconut milk, similar to laing. I couldn't help taking slices from this vegetable dish. The taro leaves were gently cooked, and the filling absorbed the coconut milk well, giving it a great burst of flavor.


The calorific dish is represented by Leyte's Humba (P280), slowly simmered slab of pork belly cooked in a sweet spiced mixture. I was shocked at the amount of fat that was dripping and oozing out of the meat. It was a sin to eat this I though, but anything with fat I knew would be a treat. Now, one of my colleagues knows about Leyte cuisine, so I waited for her to give her verdict on the Humba. She told me she had tasted better, but this was close enough. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth tender. I couldn't get over all the fat! The sauce was too sweet though for me. To imagine this dish, think Patatim, but with a pork belly. The sauce tastes similar.


Pamana was definitely a good choice for us in Tagaytay. I was hesitant to have Filipino food that night, but I was glad I stumbled over Pamana. We were the only customers there on a Tuesday night, and so I thought the restaurant still needs to gain some ground.


It's a great place to take out your foreign guests to. Let them taste Leslie's at lunch, and then some gourmet looking but home cooked Filipino dishes in the evening here at Pamana. But like most Filipino restaurants, it's still best experienced with close friends and family. I'm assuming it's full on weekends, so try to call Vangie at this number just to be sure: +63920 856 1970.

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