Food is always an element of culture and history of a certain place. You will definitely get an idea of the past by trying out the different foods being offered. For the province of Nueva Ecija, especially in the city of Cabanatuan, Hapag Vicentico’s offers an all-out Filipino style dining experience. During our stay in Microtel Cabanatuan, we had dinner at Hapag Vicenticos to try their bestsellers and experience the elegant and stylish ambiance of the restaurant.
Known as the “Hapag Kainan ng Bawat Novo Ecijano”, it is serving locals and tourists for about a decade now and still continues to provide a unique dining experience to every guest visiting the place. As per my interview with the staff, it was once an ancestral house converted into a restaurant by the owner family. The restaurant’s name came from the patriarch, Engr. Jose Vicente “Tico” Salazar Jr.
When you enter the vicinity of the place, you’ll notice that it’s just a typical old house in the province. But upon stepping inside the restaurant, you will be transported to a vision of the past with the presence of antique furniture used to adorn the interior. An old version of a bed, serves a waiting area for guests, is located in the balcony before entering the main dining halls. First thing to grasp my eyes were the different colored tables and the very rustic chairs. The whole structure of the restaurant was made up of woods but it is air conditioned inside. Windows manifest the famous Capiz shells and large curtains covering them.
You will also notice on the upper part of the walls the different kinds and sizes of plates that were used as decorations. An old farm cart is the center table of the lounge in one of the halls. Old Singer sewing machines were also used as the base of the tables.
Their menu features varied food selections from Sinabawan (soups), Gulay (vegetables), Pampagana (appetizers), Ensalada (salads), Sikat na Sikat (dishes that made them famous), Pang-Ulam (main dishes) to snacks, desserts, ice shakes and drinks. They also have Pang-Pamilya servings which are good for 4-6 persons categorized into 3 sets: Sooo Pinoy Award Winners (Php 1350), Hapag Vicentico’s Favorites (Php 1400) and Hapag Must Try (Php 1450).
After taking enough pictures of the very unique style of the place, we ordered our food. We tried their best sellers Crispy Pata, Gising-Gising and Pinakbet. While waiting for our orders to be served, I found out that the restaurant has already received numerous awards from Sooo Pinoy having the Best Sinigang, Kare-Kare and Pinakbet dishes. The restaurant was also featured on some food magazines such as Appetite and Cook.
Then, food was served. The plate of the Crispy Pata was so hefty and was actually good for 4-6 persons. The dish didn’t fail to surprise me because the pork skin was really crispy and the meat was tender. The soy sauce with diced onions, garlic and calamansi added a great flavor to the meat. For the veggies, it was my first time to try the Gising-Gising recipe. The dish is similar to chop-suey having the same vegetables but of a different sauce. On the other hand, I have proven the award given to their Pinakbet. The dish has a unique sauce which is comparable to Kare-Kare having the shrimp paste.
For the drinks, I tried the Tico-Tico, which is actually a dessert not a drink for me. It is a buko pandan served on a common halo-halo glass with a Stick-O on it. I enjoyed it so much since there was a unique flavor on the milk that was used. Meanwhile, Karl ordered Buko with Caramel and Sir Joy had a Mango Shake.
I really had a great time dining at Hapag Vicentico’s not only with the scrumptious food served but with the atmosphere that the restaurant offers, a way of enjoying food, culture and history of a place at the same time.
1077 Del Pilar Street, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija
Tel. No: (044) 600-3237 and (044) 463-0452
Dinner at Hapag Vicentico’s was sponsored by Microtel Wyndham Cabanatuan. Thank you very much to Microtel Cabanatuan, Ma’am Lita Budomo (Resident Manager) and her staff for the very warm accommodation extended to us during our stay in Cabanatuan City.