Mangan Tamu Quing EBUN (‘Let’s eat at EBUN’)

20 11 2008

[This was originally written on October 15, 2004 for my department’s monthly newletter]


ebun    Kusinang pinoy

Greenbelt 3

Level 1, Greenbelt 3,

Ayala Center, Makati City,

Tel. No. (632) 757-4792


NOTHING BEATS getting tips from your friends on where to wine and dine.  For sure these are the people who will let you in on the latest and very happening watering holes, the most authentic cuisine offerings, and hopefully, the biggest bang for the buck, especially if you’re on a budget.  Eversince I started this column, I’ve gotten quite a number of suggestions on places to check out.  But among my small circle of friends (and all the nice people on my NPI Team for Crystal Falls), it’s Cecille (Carnay, PACT-CDC) who always seems to be a step ahead in discovering the ‘it’ places.  She has always had impeccable taste so the moment I realized that it was already the second time that she had asked if I had paid ebun a visit, I knew I had to feature it this month.


I’m nowhere near being associated with Pampanga or being “Kapampangan.”  But Pampanga and things “Kapampangan” have always had a special place in my heart.  I’ve made really great friends with “Kapampangans“, among other reasons.  And this visit to Ebun just made things even more special.  Having just gone out of the two-hour commute from CV2 to Makati, and thankfully coming out of it alive, though probably with blackened lungs much thanks to the soiled aircon vents of the shuttle bus, I darted through the Greenbelt 3 security with nary an acknowledgment of the security guard’s greeting.  Bordering on frantic, I searched for Ebun and was so pleasantly surprised and greeted by the calming white exteriors of the restaurant.  Still trying to mask my pent up hunger, I pushed the doors hurriedly.  But they wouldn’t budge either way and it was at this point that Arnie told me that they slide to the sides.  It must’ve been the hunger, I opined.


Once inside, and comfortablty settled on what could be their booth section, my hunger was appeased by the cool interiors that are nothing short of a massage to the eyes.  The walls and the ceilings were done in white.  And in such limited space, I marveled at how the monochromatic approach made the place bigger than it really is.  I guess that it must have been the dramatic high ceilings, and the huge mirror that covers one wall.  And I think they had to stick with just white, or egg shell white, knowing for a fact that “ebun,” in “Kapampangan,” means egg (and you’ll see plenty of indication inside the resto about this).  While the interiors were a feast to the eyes, the food they served us was a whole new level in pleasure altogether.  Talk about a party in your mouth!!!  The menu was a study in simplicity, done in just black ‘(really old) typewriter’ fonts on white paper.  The sections had headings in “Kapampangan” such as “Mga Lutong Ebun,” “Mapaling Sabo” and “Bayu Ning Bale” that I felt so lost in translation.  It was a good thing that Arnie was around to guide us through the list.


Millet ordered ‘Sizzling Tuna Sisig’ (Php 175.00) and ‘Jasmine Rice’ (Php 20.00).  The tuna sisig was flavorful and surprisingly not dry at all.  Pleased by this order, Millet went through the menu again and asked for the “Sinigang na Ulo ng Salmon sa Miso” (‘Salmon Head in Tamarind and Fermented Soy Bean Broth with Native Vegetables,’ Php 155.00).  The salmon head was meaty, with the meat very tender and not overcooked at all.  The vegetables were still brightly colored and bursting with crispiness on every bite and it was so tempting to slurp the hot and full-flavored broth.  To wash everything down, Millet ordered a tall glass of made-from-scratch “Gulama’t Sago” (‘Sweet Gelatin and Tapioca Drink with Crushed Ice,’ Php 35.00).


Edu, the most adventurous among my friends, ordered Cecille’s must-try recommendation “Tapang Damulag” (‘Dried Carabao Meat, served with Jasmine Rice, Salted Egg and Tomatoes,’ Php 150.00).  He found it to be a little bit bland in flavor and quite a task for the jaw.  Though on the plus side, it didn’t have any strange taste or smell that we would expect from exotic meats.  Somehow, Edu managed to enjoy it just the same, especially with a hot bowl of the “Sinigang na Ulo ng Salmon sa Miso,” and a side of “Inihaw na Liempo” (‘Grilled Pork Belly,’ Php 65.00), in between sips of cold “Gulama’t Sago.”


Arnie, the “Kapampangan” among us, settled for the “Im-Bento,” the house combo meal option which allowed him to order two dishes from a long list of “Karne (Meat, Php 50 to Php 95),” “Mula Dagat (Seafood, Php 50 to Php 95),” “Inihaw-Ihaw (Grilled, Php 65 to Php 105),” and “Mga Gulay (Vegetable, Php 40)” choices.  These will then be served with a side-dish and condiments combo (Php 40.00) of Jasmine Rice, Soup of the Day (it was native Corn Soup that night), Atcharang Papaya (Pickled Green Papaya), Burong Camias (Pickled Camias), and Burong Mustasa (Pickled Mustard Greens).  He decided to have “Tidtad” (‘Pork Innards Cooked in Pork’s Blood,’ Php 50.00) and “Sugpo sa Aligue” (‘Prawns in a Sauce of Baby Crab Fat,’ Php 80.00).  The “Tidtad” was extremely delectable and with just one bite, it transported me back to the time when my mother would treat me to lunch at the La Perla restaurant in the Ongpin area in Manila.  I was in elementary then and I would always look forward to those Friday lunches at La Perla.  Up to this point, I say that that restaurant still made the best “Tidtad” and “Beef Mami” ever.  (Fastforward back to ebun …)  The “Sugpo sa Aligue“, on the other hand, wasn’t disappointing at all.  The prawn was actually the black tiger variety, and was cooked only up to the point it turned pink.  The sauce of baby crab fat was rich and quite flavorful.  I could’ve put a tablespoon of it on my Jasmine Rice, stained it (the rice) just enough and had it for my dinner already!  Yum yum!  As for his drink, Arnie had “Guyamango Shake” (‘Soursop and Mango Fruit Shake, ‘ Php 60.00).


I was the last to order and I also decided on having the Im-Bento.  For my two dishes, I opted for the vegetables.  The “Gatang Sigarillas with Bagoong” (‘Sigarillas, a Filipino vegetable, in a sauce of creamy Coconut Milk and Shrimp Paste,’ Php 40.00) was a delicious layer upon layer of flavor and texture.  The sigarillas was fork tender while maintaining its bright green shine and its salad-quality crunch.  The coconut milk sauce was creamy and specked beautifully by the shrimp paste that wasn’t at all overpowering the total flavor of the dish.  The “Grilled Eggplant with Burong Hipon” (‘Grilled Eggplant with Fermented Shrimp,’ Php 40.00) has always been a personal favorite no matter where I get it from.  The eggplant had the smoky savory quality I’ve always loved and it went perfectly with the fermented shrimp dip.  Much as I wanted to resist the temptation, I couldn’t help but have the Jasmine Rice that night.  After all, they steamed their rice to a plump and fluffy perfection I just had to have.  And as if throwing all caution to the wind, not to mention four weeks of being on a Filipinized version of the South Beach Diet, I had their “Mais Con Hielo” (‘Sweet Corn Kernels with Milk and Crushed Ice,’ Php 45.00) to perfectly cap my dinner.  Almost, that is, because dessert was still coming.


We ordered two each of the “Tibok-Tibok” (‘Maja of Fresh Cow’s Milk,’ Php 50.00) and ‘Cassava Cake’ (Php 40.00), and one “Leche Flan” (‘Flan of Milk and Eggs,’ Php 25.00).  All these three were sumptuous and scrumptious at the same time, not to mention quite cheap for desserts you’d buy in a Makati resto.  The “Tibok-Tibok” was really fresh and tasted almost like a cake of “Pastillas De Leche” (‘Fresh Milk Candy’) and the “Leche Flan” was very smooth in consistency and wasn’t overly sweet.  But I particularly found the Cassava Cake to be to-die-for that I made sure I had one whole slice to myself.  It was actually the one that I feel I should keep coming back for.  I’ve never tasted any other quite like it.  It was warm to the core, smooth all throughout, with a creamy goodness and just the right, I should say, coy sweetness.  How I wish my three other best friends who love cassava cake    Cecille, Erwin Chua and Erwin Sabio    were available to join us that night because they sure would have flipped over this one.  I did!  And I wasn’t a cassava cake person to begin with!


We had so much great time over dinner that night that we totally cancelled our plans to see the movie ‘The Bourne Supremacy‘ (which we eventually saw on a later date).  Besides dinners with family, nothing beats getting together with your closest friends once in a while.  It afforded us the chance to discover great and authentic cuisine, while catching up on stuff that we miss during very busy days in the office.  Not even the ‘warning‘ on the place mat, which I surmise they put there to keep the mood light and sort of poke fun at the Pinoy diners, kept us from staying long enough at the place.  It read: “babala:  bawal magtsismisan, bawal mang-intriga, bawal manigarilyo at mangalumbaba …  Hmmm    I guess they would have been kinder to Edu, Arnie and Millet because they would’ve just violated two at most.  Whereas for me, with a third violation, they would have kicked me out!  Hey, I have a long chin.  It gets heavy from time to time so cut me some slack!  Ciao for now 🙂



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