Restaurant review: Pinac

Celia Nachura discovers a homey restaurant serving delicious Pampanga dishes at wallet-friendly prices

Setting. Step inside Pinac and instantly feel at home. It’s designed with bright murals painted on the walls, comfortable cushioned chairs, big tables for groups and families, and pendant lamps and wooden beams on the ceiling.

Crispy pata

Food. Owner Angel Pelayo’s family comes from Candaba, Pampanga and the restaurant menu honors the heritage with Kapampangan dishes on the menu. Bestsellers include the tender crispy pata (deep-fried pork thigh) and the crispy chicken skin.

Ensaladang pako

My personal favorite is the Tortang Balasenas, eggplant omelette served with tomato capsicum. This lasagna-like torta earned a two thumbs up from all the people at my table.

Other stand outs are the kare-kare (ox-tail stew in peanut sauce) and chicken pastel (creamy chicken).

Salad lovers should try the ensaladang pako from the a la carte menu, a mix of pako (fiddle fern), salted egg, green mangoes, cucumber and tomatoes, drizzled with the Special Pinac vinaigrette and topped with a generous serving of fried itik (duck) floss. It’s a strange hodgepodge of different flavors – salty, sour and sweet – but somehow works and shows off how rich Kapampangan cuisine truly is.

Flat top s'mores

As an additional order, try the salted egg paro (shrimp). Don’t expect a mild hint of salted egg. This is a rich dish with the deep-fried battered shrimp coated generously in egg and butter. For dessert, we had something delectably sweet and quite modern, the Flat Top Smores, fluffy marshmallows covering melted chocolate with graham crackers on the side served on a skillet, definitely the perfect dessert to share and end the meal on a high note.

Crowd. Families, students from universities and colleges in the Katipunan area.

Service. Attentive and quick to respond to inquiries. Drinks did take a while, although this might be due to the volume of people at the time.

Prices. Very affordable dinner buffet at P359 ($7) per person.

Verdict. Highly recommended.

Enjoy a meal at Pinac, 2F U.P. Town Center, Katipunan, Quezon City, +632 958 5335.

Published November 2016