Last Sunday was Father’s Day. Since we planned to celebrate the occasion on the following Friday, I was free to traverse MarQuee Mall in the city of Pampanga with blogger friends. 🙂 Our venture kicked off with an adventuresome foray into the world of exotic dining at Apag Marangle Kapampangan Restaurant.
Serving authentic Kapampangan cuisine, Apag Marangle would be the most ideal restaurant to dine in when you’re in MarQuee Mall. Especially when you have not tried Pampanga’s local food, it’s a good time to taste great farm food and at the same time get a glimpse of the rich Filipino culture. If you think you’re brave enough to try something new, eating here must be included in your bucket list! 😉
Review of Apag Marangle Kapampangan Restaurant (MarQuee Mall, Pampanga)
Apag Marangle in Filipino means “hain sa bukid” or in English “farm dining.” And true enough to its name, with cool pieces of native furniture and handicrafts, it was like eating in a farm—but indoors! The design features a bahay-kubo-like dining area as shown on the wallpaper. Tables are merged together and arranged for groups, making the restaurant ambiance appeal more to families and big barkadas.
One side is air-conditioned, while the other side allows natural air to flow by. This, I think, is the reason why there were several flies buzzing in the restaurants and around the food—certainly not good for business. The management should really do something about the flies because they were seriously disturbing. Perhaps installing lamps or a special device to get rid of flies, mixing a natural fly repellent in a spray bottle, or setting a trap with dish soap can do the trick.
As some of the food were being grilled and cooked in the air-conditioned room, a lot of smoke was generated. The exhaust hood on top of the grilling station did not have enough power to get rid of the smoke, so the smoke tend to get in our eyes and nose. I suggest them to install a new range hood vented outside or transfer the grilling station to the non air-conditioned area.
Apag Marangle was packed with so many customers at the peak of lunch hour. We were seated outside and were handed the banana-leaf-shaped menu, and the friendly staff took charge in helping us find a table indoors. While waiting, the staff served plates of Nilagang Mani and Kamote (Boiled Peanuts and Sweet Potato), a kind gesture indeed.
Items on the menu were mostly in Kapampangan but there are Filipino translations below or beside each. Despite that, we could not easily decide which to order.
The waiter also gave us set of menu which listed their house specialties. He enumerated some of the best options first-time diners usually get, and we gladly approved his suggestions.
Expected waiting time for the food, he said, was 20-30 minutes. I thought it’s long. If you plan to eat here, do so when you’re not extremely hungry.
We were greeted by the appetizers: Camaru Pritu (PhP 185) and Betute (PhP 80, small; PhP 90, medium). These looked thrilling for the adventurous eater, no doubt, but I was not so excited to eat such exotic foods. Nevertheless, we had to sample them to know how they taste like.
With a deep inhale, I took the Mole Cricket into my mouth and chewed the crunchy bits of its tiny body parts. 😳 The Camaru was like chips for pulutan. It had a lightly fried crust that balanced the soft, briny texture. I dipped one into the sweet vinegar sauce for something sweet and pungent. I also tried eating the mole cricket without the sauce and I regretted it badly. This delicacy may be a soul-satisfying winner for some, but I’m sure that it’s not for me. 😐
Next in line for the “Fear Factor” taste test was the Betute, deep-fried frog farm/tadpole stuffed with buttery sauce and chili. The thought of the amphibians hopping and jumping makes me feel queasy. Stir-frying or deep-frying them will solve the case. I was told that frogs’ meat tastes like chicken.
Maybe the texture of the meat is quite similar, but the taste of the frog legs were stronger. These frog parts didn’t have much to chew. Because it’s unfortunately tough, it seemed like they had an extended stay in the deep fryer. Or maybe, it’s cooked just right. 😯 I’m only guessing as this was my first encounter with the dish. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that in general and at least from what I know, fried foods are very temperamental; crossing the delicate line from toothsome buoyancy to dense rubber is critical.
Our eyes were next set on the Ninghang Hito (Catfish) (PhP 50/100g). It was fresh and not muddy. Grilling was well executed, and the accompanying shrimp paste (bagoong) further improved the taste.
Neither too starchy nor sticky, the Aligue (Crab Roe) was melt-in-your-mouth good and perfect to be paired with rice. It was creamy, bittersweet and rather strong. Scoop one spoonful of it and you’d feel like in seafood heaven. 😛
We also had Suam Mais (PhP 195) or corn soup in clay pot, which was really nice once you get past the viscosity. Amplifying the flavor and aroma was the chicharon cooked with the warm soup. A couple of corn tortilla chips could have added more interesting texture to the frothy soup.
The Rice in Kaldero (PhP 95) can’t be ignored in the dining table. Equivalent to four cups of rice, the nasi (rice) came with a nice presentation. We enjoyed the moment since getting white rice using the wooden ladle from the cauldron is something we don’t experience every day.
Another specialty of Apag Marangle is their Crispy Pata (Pork Trotter). Pretty much every table had one—and with good reason. The pork was roasted and then deep fried until really crisp. The staff was proud to claim that it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Sorry, I can’t attest to that because I didn’t try. If you like pork, crispy pata in the Philippines is hard to beat.
When it comes to saving the best for last, Apag Marangle met my expectation with a dessert that’s suave and rich: Leche Flan (PhP 60, small; PhP 160, big). It was smooth and silky, not too eggy or too sweet. Leche flan remains as one of my favorite Pinoy treats. Lots of love! ♥
The Coconut or Buko Juice (PhP 150, 1 pitcher) turned out to be a refreshing juice with strips of soft coconut meat. This is a recommended drink to order when in a Kapampangan Restaurant instead of flushing down your meal with plain water, synthetic juices or soft drinks.
Price for Value: ★★★☆☆
If you’re a Filipino, nothing might beat your mom’s home-cooking for Pinoy food, but when you’re away from home and need a quick fix for some traditional Filipino (specifically, Kapampangan) favorites, Apag Marangle in MarQuee Mall is right up your alley. Their unique food entrees will fill you up without costing an arm and a leg. Average price range of dishes is PhP 150-PhP 350. For an ultimate authentic Filipino dining experience, you can’t go wrong with this place.
Thanks, Aldous, for the invite! 😀