The landscape of Tagaytay City is slowly changing as this scenic place continues to welcome new establishments—one of which is Pamana, a restaurant that specializes in traditional Filipino cuisine. Pamana is part of the Happy Concept Group, which includes The Boutique Bed and Breakfast, Hawaiian Bar-B-Que, and World Topps, among others. If those names do not sound familiar at all, maybe Barrio Fiesta will, and it happens to be its sister company.
I heard about Pamana through my relatives who have been gushing about its good food and who told me that this is their new favorite restaurant in Tagaytay. But they warned me that the place could be packed during weekends and holidays so it would be best to go there on other days. Luckily, my mom and my sister decided to have lunch there during my downtime and I was able to take part in this latest food trip. We traveled for about an hour to reach this highly recommended restaurant.
The view upon entry
A new discovery
Pamana’s façade seems like a modern-looking building but its interiors are just the opposite. There’s a homey feel to this place even if the first thing one notices is the mini-grocery store upon entering. A round table welcomed us near the entrance and it was full of knick-knacks and Chef Happy’s homemade specialties on sale.
A restaurant that seems like a home
A basket of goodies
I saw some bottled products such as taba ng talangka (crab fat), waykurat (sweet and spicy vinegar made from natural coconut sap), and tawilis (small freshwater fish) from Taal in corn oil. As my eyes roamed around the room, I noticed the elegant hanging chandelier, gilted mirrors adorning the walls, and ivory-colored shelves with items on display. I thought that it would be nice to look around after we order our meal first.
Eclectic dining sets
A photo showcase by the stairway
As we all headed upstairs, we took our time going up each step to check out the collection of framed photos on the wall. The whole wall was filled with pictures of sepia and black and white tones. Some of the faces were recognizable, as I have seen them on local TV several times. I could get lost trying to place each face with a name but the food was calling us, so we continued to look for a table and finally settled on the one along the terrace to get a better view of the Taal Lake. We went there on a weekday and practically had the whole place to ourselves.
The dining area on the second floor
Eating area on the third floor
Tables by the terrace
While browsing through the thick menu—all ten pages of it, I noticed that the restaurant offered a diverse selection of food from all over the country—mostly the favorites from each region. A lot of the dish descriptions mentioned the origin of the dish and some even had actual names of the person who created the original dish. I’m guessing the restaurant owner called the place “Pamana” because she inherited the recipes from her relatives and good friends.
While waiting for our food to arrive, I went around the place and noticed that the dining sets were a hodgepodge of different furniture pieces that added more to the restaurant’s cozy vibe; while the tabletops displayed mismatched dining ware. Despite the lack of uniformity, it all seems to come together. Every nook and cranny of the restaurant had a little something to add to its charm—a wooden toy rocking horse, a birdcage and other eclectic pieces.
A feast for our taste buds
For starters, we chose the Tokwa’t Bagnet (P195), which is an improved version of the staple Filipino dish tokwa’t baboy. The fried tofu is paired with bagnet or crispy pork belly that gives it a delicious crunch. The garlic-soy dressing is served separately so we had the option to either dip each piece on the dressing or pour it all on the dish. We opted for the latter so the tofu and meat will absorb all the nice flavors.
Tadyang ng Bakang Manaanghang
After a while, the waiter served us the rest of our meal, which includes Tadyang ng Bakang Manaanghang (P320), Barrio Pinakbet (P300), Binagoongang Bagnet, and Plain Rice cooked in Bamboo (P105). This is what happens when you go to a restaurant hungry—you tend to order a lot! The three of us were eating like there’s no tomorrow.
Of course I had a little taste of everything. The beef tadyang was very flavorful and just had the right hint of spice but it could have been better if it were served hot off the stove. The binagoongang bagnet was really crisp to the bite—I could hear every crunch as I munch on its fatty goodness. I admit, I’m not a fan of pork dishes but this is an exception. This sinfully rich dish is a must-try in a book.
For me, a meal would not be complete without a healthy side dish. Ours was the pinakbet that had big chunks of squash, ampalaya (bitter gourd) and other vegetables that were cooked in their famous bagoong (shrimp paste). There were also a couple of big and plump shrimps on top of the bed of veggies. My mom especially enjoyed eating this dish.
Plain rice cooked in bamboo
Pamana had a variety of rice choices but we picked the most basic one since most of our entrées were very savory and saucy. And I believe it was a good call because it didn’t compete with the rest of the flavors from our lunch feast.
We only finished half of our order and had to take home what’s left. It was a very satisfying meal of local fare and I capped it off by going up the restaurant’s third floor and taking my fill of the fresh air and wonderful view of Tagaytay.