Located two hours north of the capital city of Manila, the region of Pampanga in the Philippines is known as the country’s breadbasket and culinary capital, and as such is a fitting destination for Anthony Bourdain during his travels in the region. Pampanga is a municipality located just northwest of Manila, and is home to larger cities including Angeles and San Fernando.
Anthony Bourdain visited Pampanga just once, to film season 5 (episode 7) of No Reservations; it was his only on-screen visit to this part of the Philippines, though he did visit other parts of the country (including the capital city of Manila) at other times during his television career.
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and your itinerary will take you out of the capital city, you can use this brief guide to plan your meals based on the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Pampanga. While he didn’t visit many places during his time in Pampanga, he made them count; he samples Filipino food and shows Filipino cuisine in an inspiring way for many travelers. There is no Tagalog equivalent to “bon appetit” so let’s just dive right in.
Starting first at the city of Angeles, the site of a former American air force base and modeled after a typical mid-Western US town, Tony meets with a local chef and iconoclast, Claude Tayag. Together they first visit Arlyns, one of the city’s many carinderias, a restaurant that specializes in goat served four ways.
Bourdain chows down on papaitan (a soup made of heart, lungs, liver, and bile), kilawing kambing (chopped goat skin that’s boiled with intestines, served cold), sinigang na kambing (hot soup made of shanks and backbones and bone marrow, cooked in a sour broth, with chilli peppers), and a goat head soup (eyes, brain, tongue, all included!).
Aling Lucing’s Sisig
Tony follows up this capra-themed feast with a trip to Aling Lucing’s Sisig.
As he enjoys beers with Claude and friends at this roadside eatery, Bourdain is served sisig – chopped pig face, onions, chicken livers, soy sauce, lemon, served on a sizzling platter, seasoned with calamansi (a local citrus fruit with a zesty tang) and chili peppers. Similar to corn beef hash and crunchy at the bottom, sisig is perfect drinking food and Aling Lucing rightfully lays claim to being the inventor of this now nationally famous dish.
The sisig is accompanied by BBQ chicken tailpiece (affectionately known as “the popes nose”) with hot sauce, served yakitori style on grilled skewers.
For the final stop in Pampanga, Anthony visits Bale Dutung, Claude’s home gallery and restaurant. From the rustic outside kitchen, Claude prepares Tony a traditional Pampanga meal: ensaladang pako (fern salad with quail eggs), sinigang (a soup dish made of seafood, meat, and vegetables with sour guava fruit, milkfish, and crayfish), ox tail with peanuts, vegetables, and shrimp paste, and finally adobo quail made with smoked bacon and chicken liver.
From this food selection, it’s not hard to see why Bale Dutung requires a reservation well in advance in order to sample these local delicacies.
Have any questions about these few places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Pampanga? Let me know in the comments!