On our way back from Baguio last March, we stopped over in Clark, Pampanga before continuing on to Manila. We had a great dinner at Binulo Restaurant, serving some of the most wonderful Capampangan cuisine I’ve ever had. Binulo means to cook in fresh bamboo stalks called bulo.
We were quite tired already but once the first dish arrived on our table, all of it vanished. Pititian with Atsara (P185), glorious golden pieces of pork rind served in a basket together with sidings of “atsara” pickled papaya relish and vinegar. We were told that in Capampangan cuisine, pork rinds or chicharon are eaten with atsara and I would have to say that its a match in heaven. The atsara’s sweet and sour taste served to cut the cloying and indulgent taste of the chicharon serving as an excuse to consume even more.
Shrimp Okoy (P95/4 pcs.) was next. Deep fried shrimp with julienned papaya. This is another crunchy local appetizer.
More tempting piggy goodness courtesy of Sisig (P195). Quite good with a squeeze of calamansi.
Paco (fiddlehead fern) Salad (P105) is an attempt of tempering our cholesterol levels with a bit of green. Served with a thick and tangy dressing.
Our first binulo dish was the Pangat na Ulang (Fresh water prawns) (P250). The dish was served straight out of the bamboo stalk it was cooked in. Those prawns (I counted around 5 or 6) look more like small lobsters, and we were told there are even bigger ones but they could not fit into the bamboo. The meat of the ulang is tender and flavorful despite its large size.
Pork Bulanglang (P190) is their version of sinigang but flavored with guava instead of the usual tamarind. The use of the guava adds a bit of grittiness that I liked as well as the toned down sourness.
Binukadkad na Hito (P185). Deep fried filleted catfish served with buro (fermented rice). At Binulo, they’ve found a way to make buro palatable to many people as out group attested to. Many people find the smell a bit off putting but they’ve found away to achieve the taste without having the smell. The way to eat this is to get a piece of mustard leaf, add the buro and fish, wrap then pop into your mouth for the explosion of flavors.
Kalderetang Kambing (P235) Stewed goat with vegetables in tomato sauce. I love the rich taste of this dish, the sauce perfect compliment to steaming rice. The meat were very tender although some of the vegetables needed a bit more time.
Binulong Nasi (P105) was the other dish the made use of the binulo method. The resulting rice was sticky and fragrant, absorbing flavor from the banana leaves and bamboo.
Some of the other dishes we had were Kare Kare (P395) and Crispy Pata (P405)
For dessert, we sampled the trio of Turon Saging (P110), Bucayong Kamote w/ Gatas Damulag (P85) and Suman with Mango Ice Cream (P110). The biggest hit was the Kamote (sweet potato) cooked with carabao’s milk syrup making the pieces extra tasty. I loved the turon which had not only bananas and langka but also ube and macapuno, making it kinda like a fried halo-halo.
Binulo Restaurant is one the best Filipino restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at. Prices are very reasonable, serving size is generous and you can see they use the freshest ingredients available. With all of the great Capampangan food, I was surprised to see they also served grilled steaks which prompted me to suggest adding a grilled ulang to the menu. I’m severely tempted to just go into the car and drive there again, if not for the location.