In a province where gastronomy is not that widely familiar to outsiders, these restaurants in Nueva Ecija try to introduce new flavors and satisfy every famished traveler. The influence of other cuisines is evident on their menus having a diverse range of offerings: such as Western, Thai, Italian, Japanese, to the local ones like Kapampangan and Ilocano.
It was Thursday noon, a little late for lunch but too early for snacks when we started the never-ending restaurant hopping that gave us the opportunity to take a look (and taste) on the varied culinary landscape of Nueva Ecija.
Pad Thai Fil-Thai Restaurant
Our vehicle stopped on the side of the road, I searched the area for the restaurant listed on our itinerary. Finally, I saw the restaurant’s signage. The place is a bit small to accommodate 30 people including the open-air dining area at the frontage. The air-conditioned part has only 5 wooden tables with each can only take up to 4, maximum.
Pad Thai and Chicken Satay of Fil-Thai Restaurant.
The place is known for their Pad Thai, which was odd for me, has crab meats and slices of cuttlefish as toppings. It tastes good though for a restaurant having a provincial market. We also tried a set of gyoza that was a little over fried (with the filling not so succulent) and some sticks of Chicken Satay which was tender and flavorful.
A short drive from the Pad Thai Fil-Thai is Luz Kitchenette. The dining area has a very homey and warm vibe with the color of lighting fixtures used. Place is wide to handle large events and receptions. It is the type of restaurant that your grannies used to bring your parents when they were young.
Filipino staples: Beef Steak and Beef Kaldereta.
The food served were basically Filipino staples for lunch: Kare-kare, Beef Steak, Beef Caldereta and a bowl of Chicharong Bulaklak. The chicharong bulaklak lived up to our expectations, crunchy and well-seasoned. On the other hand, the steak stood out from the other dishes due to the soft meat and the strong aroma of the spices added. – (J. Malgapo St, Gapan City – 044 486 0103)
Hapag Kainan sa Hardin
If you tend to try an eat-all-you-can restaurant, the Php 248 buffet rate of Hapag Kainan sa Hardin during Tuesdays will give you a chance to feast on dishes with a Novo Ecijano touch. Their buffet features seafood gising-gising, bicol express, pinakbet, and a lot more.
Some viands on Hapag Kainan’s buffet: Sizzling Squid and Bicol Express.
Bicol Express was really an explosion as they proved the spiciness of the viand that really brought us an intense heat. The group also had the grilled squid served on a sizzling plate. It was tender but the taste didn’t satisfy my taste buds. All in all, the rate is well enough to avail the wide array of food choices being offered. – (H. Conception Circumferential Road, Cabanatuan City – 0935-293-1625)
For Filipino cuisines with a twist, Hapag Vicenticos is the right place to consider. They offer the likes of Crispy Kare-kare, Sinigang na Baboy sa Gabi at Sampalok, Kilawing Tanigue, Gising-gising, Bulanglang with Tilapia, Dobleng Tortang Talong, Pocherong Bulalo and others.
Filipino cuisine with a twist: Callos Baboy at Kadyos and Longganiza Rice.
For dinner, the restaurant prepared Longganiza Rice, Salted Egg Rice, Crispy Pata, Kare-kare, Lechon Kawali, Adobong Pusit, Callos Baboy at Kadyos, Sinigang na Hipon, and Grilled Chicken. We also tried their desserts and coolers: Carioca, Banana Turon, and Leche Fry for sweets and choices of Leche Flan, Tico-Tico, Green Mango, Strawberry, Ube Halaya, Ripe Mango and Buko Caramel for drinks.
Sweets! Carioca, Banana Turon and Leche Fry for dessert and 7 coolers to try in Hapag Vicenticos.
There is no wonder why people flock Hapag Vicenticos after work because the place simply offers a laid-back and natural mood with the good food available and the friendly staff around. Check out my previous dining experience at this place here. – (1077 Del Pilar Street Cabanatuan City – 044 600-3237 / 0917-565-7860)
Bistro 360 is probably one of the best places to chill out in Nueva Ecija. The main dining hall adopts an open-air concept which adds the casual vibe of the province. Going over the menu, Western cuisines dominate it with the presence of some sandwiches, soups, salads, to steaks, pasta, and panizzas.
Joaquin Panizza and the Kesong Puti with Garlic Longganiza Panizza of Bistro 360.
We tried the Joaquin Panizza and Kesong Puti with Garlic Longganiza Panizza served with arugula and alfalfa sprouts. I was already full and only tried the Kesong Puti which was really scrumptious with the salted egg balances the sweetness of the cheese and overpowered by the garlic. – (General Tinio Street, 3100 Cabanatuan City – / 044 463-0049 / 0943-836-0360)
Liquid Bar and Restaurant
Found within the compound of Microtel Cabanatuan in Barangay Sta Arcadia, Cabanatuan City is the chic restaurant, Liquid Bar and Resto. The place is the best spot to end your tiring day touring around the outskirts of Nueva Ecija. Aside from great food, you can also enjoy acoustic nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays and some bar parties during Saturdays and Sundays.
Salted Egg Salad with fried eggplant and shrimp paste. Right: Sinampalukan sa Usbong na Manok Tagalog.
We were able to try the Binagoongang Lechon, Sinampalukan sa Usbong na Manok Tagalog, and the Salted Egg Salad with fried eggplant and shrimp paste. The chicken soup will literally stir you up with its super tangy taste brought by the tamarind leaves. The dishes served really surpassed our expectations. I truly appreciated the Binagoongang Lechon and Salted Egg Salad because they are not that salty with the right savor to have a ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ experience. I’m monitoring my rice intake but I wasn’t able to control consuming some extra rice during the meal. – (Microtel Cabanatuan, Sta. Arcadia, Cabanatuan City – 0917-815-0057)
The wide array of food selection being offered and served by these restaurants will definitely entice every visitor in the province to indulge in a gastronomic feast. With the culinary tour and the great food I had, what I just wanted to do was to relax my full and heavy stomach.
Visit to these restaurants was part of the Byaheng Nueva Ecija 2014 organized by Microtel Cabanatuan and Nueva Ecija Conventions and Visitors Association happened last March 27-29, 2014. Special thanks to the owners of the restaurants above for accommodating us during the food and familiarization tour.