Cabalen's Other Brand: MANGAN
MANGAN: Kapampangan Culinary Magic
Mangan is the Pampango word for eat. Why name a restaurant after it? Obviously to trigger your appetite for a delicious home cooking everybody craves for, home-away-from-home that is. At Mangan, ordinary ingredients can be mixed with other components and transformed to become a special fare. With the Kapampangan cooking flair, common ingredients are turned into familiar yet superior meals.
In keeping with its name, the restaurant menu features a section called “Ispesyal ning Bale,” (House Specialty) where Bibingka with Quesong puti or Queso de bola and salted egg (P130), and Puto Bumbong with grated coconut and mascuvado (P95) highlights not only the restaurant’s specialty but the incoming season itself. It is during this season where Bibingka and Puto Bumbong sided with steaming hot Salabat (ginger tea) complete the celebration.
An interesting item under the heading of “Ispesyal na Handa” is called tofu sisig (P100). Mangan’s tofu sisig is a golden tidbit of tofu, well seasoned and slightly spicy. It is a light, delicious and healthy alternative to the usual sisig combination.
Sisig ni mely (P260) is the usual chopped meat sisig that we know. The big difference is that this variety came cold and wrapped up in a banana leaf. How it’s different? I’ve tasted sisig that started off as good as Mangan’s version – until I got to the bottom of the hot plate, that is. I can now discern that placing good sisig in a hot plate tends to lower its quality sometimes. Morsels of meat and bits of liver become bitter when they are burnt on the hot plate. Sisig ni mely, served cold, was delicious with just the right hints of hot pepper. The flavors were intact and unsullied by the effects of over-cooking.
Tender Lengua in mushroom sauce (P285) and kare-kare Buntot ng baka (0x tail) for P360 are dishes that require slow cooking and a lot of patience. The sauces that accompanied these were thick and rich. One understands even more that the bagoong (shrimp paste) accompanying the kare-kare is served to counterbalance the richness of the dish. It is undeniably tasty because the sauce is made not of the usual peanut butter, but with the sauce of a freshly ground peanut.
Bigger groups can share a variety of platters they offer. From fried, to grilled, to steamed and to a platter of fresh seasoned fruits (P380). One is Inihaw Pyesta (fiesta) platter (P890), this is a combination that includes Inihaw na Liempo (grilled Liempo), chicken barbecue, Alabos na hipon (steamed shrimp), Inihaw na bangus (grilled and stuffed milk fish), Inihaw na talong with burong hipon (grilled eggplant), Inihaw na tahong (grilled mussels), Dahon ng Mustasa (Mustard leaves) and a delicious variety of sawsawan (dips).
Another is Pritong Paborito (favorite fried dishes) for P890 which includes Pritong manok (fried chicken), Lechon Kawali (deep fried pork Liempo), garlic pugo (quail), Pritong tilapia (fried St. Peter’s fish), Pritong biya at sari-saring sawsawan. For health conscious and vegetarians they have steamed vegetables platter (P250) which includes steamed talong (eggplant), okra, sitaw (string beans), Ampalaya (bitter melon), Patola, Upo, Talbos ng Kamote (Camote tops) and a delicious variety of dips that complements all these.
Fish eaters at Mangan will enjoy gatang tilapia with Mustasa (P220), which is St. Peter’s fish cooked in coconut milk and garnished with mustard leaves and green pepper, while other gata fans can enjoy gatang Sigarillas with bagoong or gatang sitaw at Kalabasa at an unbelievable P55 each. One of my favorite all time vegetable dish was okoy (P80), papaya and shrimp fritters served with a dipping sauce of native sugarcane vinegar.
During my lunch visit at their newly dressed-up branch at Robinsons Place Ermita, the restaurant was packed. The lunch crowd consisted of families, group of friends, young and old alike. A quick lunch and they were off. The tables were briskly cleared as other groups waited to be seated. The steady stream continued throughout the duration of the lunch break and the entire restaurant staffs were continuously alert and on its toes.
While resting from a big meal, I found other interesting items in Mangan’s menu that includes garlic pugo (quail) Inadobo (P260) and tapang damulag (carabao) for P220 among others. I was happy with my Gulaman at sago (P65) but the katas ng Prutas (fresh fruit drinks) list includes something called camias shake (P80). I resolved to try it next time.
Being a dessert person however, I regretted not leaving room for halo-halo Gua-Gua (P85) or maybe that seafood pancit luglog (P155) that is served with bright green camias slices, too.
Mangan’s food is simple yet so delicious and down-to-earth. It is hearty comfort food that “hits the spot.” The kapampangan word for it is “manyaman!”
Robinsons Place Ermita (400-4784) / Robinsons Galleria (470-6353/636-1120) / SM Mall of Asia (556-2783 ) / SM City North Edsa The Annex (332-2320)