Apag Marangle in Bacolor, Pampanga
Budget : ~Php150-300 per dish
Duration : a couple of hours to chillax
Bummers : not open to eat exotic dishes
Pampanga and great food is like salt and pepper, they always go together. That is why if you pass by or go to this province, you should never miss trying out authentic Kapampangan dishes. I am a true blue Kapampangan. I grew up eating with my bare hands and our family’s favorite is inihaw na hito (grilled catfish) that you dip on burong isda (fermented rice and fish). I know what is manyaman (delicious in Kapampanga dialect) by heart.
Apag Marangle or Hain sa Bukid is a known restaurant in Bacolor, Pampanga that serves authentic Kapampangan dishes. If you have seen Kamayan sa Palaisdaan in Laguna, Apag Marangle has the same ambiance. You dine in floating kubos (nipa hut) on a man-made pond.
The only difference is that at Apag Marangle, you can try ride a raft or try catching the fish in the pond. There are lots of tilapia. But I am not sure if you will want to eat them because the water looks green and blurry.
Their most popular dish, the Betute, is frogs stuffed with savory ground pork and deep-fried afterwards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t frog season so it was off the menu when I visited Apag Marangle. Sad.
I opted to try a more exotic dish instead, the Fried Camaru or Mole Crickets (Php 150). This is a popular Kapampangan delicacy and if I remember correctly, I already ate this insect when I was younger. But I had to refresh my memory by trying it. At first look, the mole crickets may look icky to try. But they actually taste fine, like crunchy pork cutlets.
There’s nothing to be scared of with this dish. I think I ate half of the plate. The crickets offered their lives for this, I just made sure their purpose was served.
However, I don’t recommend eating the mole crickets with your hands. You’ll feel their soft and frail body then the icky feeling will come back. This is pretty hardcore.
The Kalderetang Bibe or Spicy Duck Stew (Php 305) is just normal compared to the ones cooked by my uncles during our reunions. Duck meat is quite tough so it really takes time to make it tender. The meat of their stew is still a bit hard. Be careful when eating duck though because its bones are sharper compared to chicken. Duck meat taste like chicken only tougher.
I wasn’t a fan of the Gule King Gata (Php 180). This is a medley of vegetables cooked in coconut milk. Maybe if it was served a little warmer, the coconut milk would have been creamier.
According to their menu, Humba (Php 250) is pork belly braised in yellow bean paste. The dish doesn’t look yellow so I am not sure if yellow bean paste is yellow then. This could have been a great dish if it was less tasty. The dish is so savory that is gets overwhelming. Maybe less salt or soy sauce next time. But the meat is very, very soft. I liked that.
We ordered a for sharing pitcher of Buko Pandan Juice (Php 195). It’s a great beverage especially for a hot, summer day.
In my honest opinion, the food at Apag Marangle is pretty average while the price is quite steep for a restaurant in the province. I may or may not go back but I believe Kapampangans have a lot more to offer than this. If ever I go back, I hope it will be frogs season then. I am really looking forward to tasting the betute. I know frogs taste like chicken but I want to prove for myself.
If you plan to check them out, learn about their best-sellers here.
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