I was at SM City Cebu yesterday with a Cebuano friend who asked me if I had ever eaten at Cabalen. I told her I have not eaten there once although there are branches back in Manila. She gave me a meaningful charming smile and said, “You have to try it. They’ve got great Pampango food”. I challenged her by saying, “Sure. We can have dinner there today. My treat”. Just like that, we went inside Cabalen at the North Wing area of the mall where there was a jazz piano playing and where a big beautiful Christmas tree lay at the center of the ground floor section.
We had a table for 2 and started picking food for us to dine and talk over. I will not tell you what we ate because I’m pretty sure my other previous posts have already expressed my super love for food. I will tell you what they had in the restaurant though. They had beringhe, kare-kare, calderetang baka, kuhol, dinuguan, inihaw na hito with buro hipon, sampelot, camaru, Cabalen sisig and tibok-tibok. These were the specialties they had as told by my friend Sherry and believe me when I say that I did not even know most of them. While catching up on our lives, she also informed me that Cabalen is actually a word from Pampanga that means ‘kababayan’. So this must explain why most of their specialties were native dishes of Pampanga.
I have to say the food was delicious. I had never tried food from Pampanga which made it a first. I’d say the Kapampangan cooking is actually very rich in flavor and texture. Okay, I may have enjoyed eating kare-kare too much. I am a big fan of it and I think adding bagoong to food that is already very rich in texture is pure genius. I loved my experience in the restaurant and I did not have to pay much for a taste of the Kapampangan dining experience. They charge P298/head (adults) for the buffet and P270/head for kids four feet and below.
Surely, I will make a mental note to try to visit Pampanga and check out more delicious food. In the mean time, while not in Pampanga yet, I will try to indulge myself to more of the richness of food in Cabalen.
Buffet Rates as of February 2014
- Robinsons Place Manila – Adult P368 / Child 4ft below P210
- Market! Market! – Adult P298/ Child 4ft below P210
- SM Mall of Asia – Adult P398/ Child 4ft below P270
- MegaMall – Adult P398/ Child 4ft below P270
- TriNoma Mall – Adult P298/ Child 4ft below P270
- Glorietta – Adult P298/ Child 4ft below P270
- Ayala Mall Subic, SM City Clark, Robinsons Starmills, Pampanga, SM City Cebu – Adult P298/ Child 4ft below P210
Google Map of Cabalen MarketMarket Taguig