After The Craft Central, I went straight to UP Town Center for dinner in Pinac! Note to self: NEVER take the MRT (or commute, ever) during rush hour. Even sardines have more space in the can. Special mention and shootout to Aldous (http://aldousatetheworld.com) for putting up with my lateness and fetching me!
Pinac is the Kapampangan word for farm, so you will see that they aim to bring out the freshest ingredients as much as possible. And because the owner is of Kapampangan heritage, she tries to whip up the delicious local dishes, but with a modern twist that makes it easier and more appealing to eat. It's really interesting, as they fuse modern and easy with homecooked food based on family recipes and authentic local dishes from the province!
When we arrived in Pinac, we were greeted by nice and attentive staff. Love how they cater to your needs and that they don't say no immediately (After asking if I could charge my phone). The place itself is spacious, with a lot of tables that can accommodate big or small groups of people. Comfy chairs, a lot of space to move around, and gives off a peaceful and homey ambiance that's still fancy and comfortable. The restroom was the most amusing of the place, as it's hidden (It's on the right side and is the same design as a wall). I was pushing the walls until I found the opening (Though someone was inside, so I looked like an idiot pushing walls at first!).
I wasn't exactly hungry, as I had a bit during the PR party, but I wasn't going to pass up on the appetizers! They looked so good!
Started with the sisig pizza, basically pork sisig with bell peppers drizzled with mayonnaise on a thin crust. So yummy, I love how they mad the crust thin to not overpower the whole pizza, and that the sisig was soft and tender. I'm no fan of mayonnaise, but it complemented the sisig!
Next up was hito with fermented fish. It was served with vinegar (If you're not a fan of the fermented fish) and mustard leaves. A bit confusing at first, but you roll the fried hito balls with the leaves and add the fermented fish or vinegar as a sauce. I love the tangy and sour taste of the mustard leaf with the hito, but I prefer it alone with the vinegar! The fermented fish tasted nice, but I would rather not match it with the already salted hito.
My favorite, chicken skin with potato chips! I didn't get to taste the sauce, but the chicken skin didn't need any, as it's already salted and good on its own. I bet it would be great on vinegar, though. Love how it isn't so salty and still crispy. Some were tender yet with a crunch, which made me come back for more. It's their bestseller, and I can see why!
For the baked oysters with cheese and crispy kang kong, this is the least of my favorites, yet not bad! I'm not a huge fan of oysters, and it was a bit cold when I tasted it. I'm sure it would be good, but again, I don't like the sourness of oysters, and while the cheese would have helped, it didn't have as much flavor as I expected it to have. Plus, the kang kong had more oil than it's supposed to, making it more drenched and soggy than crispy.
They had drinks, such as cucumber shake and the tsoknut banana shake. Didn't want to order as I wanted to save room, but it looked really good and the glasses were so cute and fancy! Based on the faces of the other bloggers sipping, it was probably delicious and I'll be back for that cucumber shake! (No to tsoknut, as tempting as it is!)
On to the main courses, which was B E A U T I F U L! Started off with the kare-kare, which was definitely the most memorable ones I've tasted. And I've tasted a LOT of kare-kare, LOL. Soup was so thick, beef was tender, and vegetables were perfectly cooked. It had the authentic peanut taste that you know is made of real and fresh ingredients, not just some pre-mixed powder.
Crispy pata. I have no idea what to say about it, but YUM. Definitely a guilty pleasure. I love how they cut it to make it easier to serve, and it makes it look all the more appealing and delicious to eat. Pork was tender, skin was crunchy, fats were… PERFECT! Hahaha. Interestingly, they served it with fermented ampalaya and eggplant (Like atsara, but not papaya!) Sourness removed the bitterness of the ampalaya, which made it taste better than what I expected it to be. I love it.
Seafood paella was next, and instead of the usual Spanish dish, it comes Filipino style with a sweeter tomato base, chorizo, and bagnet topped with it! They had the usual shrimp, boiled egg, and other vegetables included. It wasn't the best of all I've tasted in Pinac, but it is good. I just don't like how the rice is a bit… wet? I expect paella to have rice clinging on to each other but a bit squishy (If this makes sense), but I felt like I was eating cooked rice that was washed or drenched in tomato sauce. I like the chorizo and seafood, it's just the rice that made it less yummy for me.
Last, the fried shrimp! This isn't your usual tempura style fried shrimp, but it's coated in salted egg mixture and a secret ingredient I'd rather not say (All respects to the owner, your secret's safe with us!). All I'll comment on is that it's delicious and the blend of the ingredients makes it so interestingly good. Squeeze a bit of lemon on it and all the flavors are bursting!
Last but definitely not the least, DESSERT! Aaaaah, this is definitely what made me stuffed to the rim. I'll start off with the puto bumbong, which is made of real ube. Alone, it wouldn't be super flavorful. But when you top it with coconut shavings and sugar, YUM. Gives me that Christmas vibe already!
Next up, turn with mango panna cotta. The turn itself is well sliced and crunchy, sweet and delicious (I'm a huge fan of anything with bananas). Add a bit of the mango syrup, and it becomes better. The panna cotta itself is very yummy and glad to say that this was the best one I've tasted since most panna cottas would be too liquified and not gelled enough if you know what I mean.
Last but the most beautiful of all, the one I have been really waiting for... The smores! It's made out of flat tops and comes with graham crackers. Just… urgh. It's better than sex (But what do I know?). Or think of the best thing in your life. 10 times better. I wish my phone didn't run out of battery so I could have taken a photo or video of the chocolate gooeyness that is my s'more. Once you dip into the marshmallow, you'll find a pool of chocolate underneath, and the mixture of both marsh and choco makes it thick and clings onto your graham cracker, making it perfect to make into a sandwich and eat. The chocolate stains on my mouth and teeth after signifies my satisfaction and ultimate happiness.
All in all, my experience in Pinac was absolutely lovely. Delicious food, accommodating staff, VERY nice and friendly owner (she visited other tables as well), and I love the ambiance it sets. Perfect for a family meal or date night. Just have your stomachs prepared! Price is definitely worth the portion size and quality of the food. Plus the ambiance and staff, and you've got yourself the perfect Filipino restaurant in UP Town Center! You'll see me again, Pinac! ;)