Pamana is a Filipino word that means legacy, inheritance and even heritage. Owned by the Ongpauco clan, Pamana lives up to its name by showcasing the past – their family’s past.
Upon entering the restaurant, you see photographs of the clan adorning the walls of the restaurant. They even have antique items like a very old iron and sewing machine. Very charming touches.
One wall was chock-full of texts in Tagalog. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read it because there were fellow diners at the time. It seemed odd to stand behind them and read while they ate.
The seating was surprisingly fairly modern.
Do you recognize this lovely lady on the cover of the menu? It’s Liberty Ilagan! She’s the matriarch of the clan, an accomplished Filipina actress and Sampaguita Pictures’ glamour girl. Her daughter, Happy, owns Pamana.
Our group’s Mommy Odette organized this meet-up since I haven’t seen her yet since I arrived in the country. Our group ordered Crispy Pusit in Squid Ink, Kansi, Sizzling Pancit Ivatan, Tinuktok and Tilapia na Pinaputok sa Dahon ng Saging, Bibingka, Palitaw and Puto Bumbong. If it seems like too much food, well, it was. But if you pair delicious food with delightful conversations, then it’s easy to eat without noticing how much food you’ve eaten.
The first dish we had was the Crispy Pusit in Squid Ink.
I confess, I looked at this dish suspiciously when our server placed it on our table. “Where on earth is the pusit?” Little did I know that it’s actually the little black thingamajigs in front of me. They incorporated the squid ink into the batter then deep fried it to its crispy goodness. While my friends were chatting animatedly, I was surreptitiously finishing it until it was all gone. Only goes to show you, don’t judge a book by its cover. I was suspicious of this and fell for it hook, line and sinker.
This next dish is Kansi, a cross between nilagang bulalo and sinigang. It’s popular in the Negrense region. It’s tangy, sour, hearty. Definitely perfect for cold, rainy days.
Batanas is on my must-visit list, so trying this Sizzling Pancit Ivatan was a good introduction to the area. It is pancit canton with egg and dried pork adobo served with adobo sauce and tuba (coconut wine).
Tinuktok is from the Bicol region of the country. It has minced coconut meat, shrimp and spices wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in coconut milk.
This next dish is Tilapia na Pinaputok sa Dahon ng Saging. I looked up a translation for it, but didn’t find it so I’ll describe it instead. Imagine a whole tilapia stuffed inside with onions, tomatoes and tanglad (lemongrass), wrapped in banana leaves and then fried, broiled or grilled. That’s what it is.
For desserts, we had Bibingka, Palitaw and Puto Bumbong. The one pictured below is Bibingka, a type of rice cake “traditionally cooked in clay pots lined with banana leaves.” (thanks, Wikipedia!) It’s usually served with freshly grated coconut either on top or on the side.
Palitaw is made of glutinous rice flour and water. You mix the flour and water to create a dough, roll the dough into little ovals, put them inside a pot of boiling water. The moment they rise up to the surface, it’s done! I’ve done palitaw at home many times. It’s usually sprinkled with sesame seeds, freshly-grated coconut and/or sugar.
This last dessert came as a surprise to me. I remember it was available around December, usually seen inside bamboo tubes. Somehow, I thought it was a seasonal food, but Pamana proved me wrong.
Puto Bumbong is made of steamed glutinous rice, supposedly a variety called Pirurutong (according to my Google search). Not quite sure why it’s purple in color. This delicacy gets steamed in bamboo tubes and then you top it with freshly-grated coconut and/or brown sugar. This version came wrapped in banana leaves, not bamboo tubes.
Verdict: My friend made a reservation the day before, so if you’re going there as a group, reservations are recommended. It is located near ABS-CBN with a fairly limited parking space that can accommodate four cars. Luckily, I easily found a parking space when I got there. My other friends did not bring their cars, so if you plan to visit this branch, it might be easier to take a cab.
I was the first one in our group to arrive and the wait staff was pretty welcoming. The moment I stepped inside, I was greeted by one of the wait staff who introduced himself as if I was an old friend of the family. Even better, I got seated quickly. While I waited for the rest of the group, their wait staff would check on me. When we were deciding what to order, the server was very helpful in recommending their popular dishes.
Classic Filipino food? Check! To live up to their name, Pamana’s menu showcased recipes from family and friends (for example, “Sinuglaw na Maliputo – Lolo Gerry De Leon’s pride. Grilled pork belly and fresh tanigue marinated in spices, coconut milk and tuba” or “Seafood Paella – This is Lola Laling’s version of Seafood Paella”). It included food from all over the country, so even if I was born here in the Philippines, I haven’t even heard or tasted some of their offerings!
Whether you’re going on a date night or a group get-together venue (especially if a balikbayan is in town for a visit), check out Pamana. They have branches in Quezon City, Tagaytay City, Boracay, Makati City or Baguio City.
Mother Ignacia Avenue (Near ABS-CBN)
Quezon City, Philippines