Considering the fact that Anthony Bourdain had to travel thousands of miles to feast at Bale Dutung, Happyfoodies’ return trip to the wooden house in Angeles City was comparatively, a small sacrifice. Nay, call it miniscule especially considering the gustatory reward which is, following the Kapampangan stereotype, lavish.
We came to C’ Italian Dining towards the tailend of our Angeles City foodtrip assignment for a magazine. It was just early evening but we were already full after a day of glorious eating. But who’s to resist a serving of Italian fare? Not us, especially when it comes with a promise of ice cream at the end of the course. Finding the restaurant was a cinch as it is located just along Clarkview, literally within view of the entry gate to the Clark Ecozone. The first thing we noticed while waiting to be seated was the wall-lined with plates upon autographed plates, kind of like badges of good taste. As if we needed any as the place, the originator of the Panizza, the medley of Panini and Pizza now becoming popular in other joints, came highly recommended by our friends from the tourism office.
It was a Sunday afternoon when we dropped by for a taste of Louisiana-style cooking at Cottage Kitchen in Angeles City and it was empty save for just one other customer. It’s not because the food isn’t good. Far from it. It’s probably because it’s the lean season plus the overcast conditions made it conducive for diners to just stay home. Not us, since we were having a foodtrip in Angeles. We didn’t mind getting the undivided attention of the friendly staff who welcome the banter.
A Koreantown in Angeles City? We’re probably too used to the concept of Chinatown that this idea seemed like a novel concept. Driving along the stretch of Friendship Highway, we passed a strip of establishments sporting signages in Korean with no English translations. Which ones are restaurants, it’s hard to tell. But for a taste of kimchi (the best one here for miles, so says our guide-friend, Tin, from the Angeles City tourism office), we bypassed Koreantown and headed to Balibago for Yu Fu In.
The restaurant is located in a sizable structure located across the town park. We later learned that it is in fact, the largest freestanding Japanese restaurant in the Philippines with a dining area spread across three stories — the main dining area on the ground floor, a Yakiniku area complete with the requisite stove and exhaust fan on every table on the second, and an open air area on the third. It’s a strange curiosity to find kimchi in a Japanese restaurant but as we taste the food, we find there’s more to like there.
It’s off the usual route and takes a bit of traveling to get to but Cioccolo is an interesting place to go to at night. Right in the middle of a dark field, it seems a place of enchantment has sprung up, magically lit up at night. There’s R2-D2 in one area, Elvis in another as well as Roman statues here and there among a host of other curiosities that catch the eye and piques one’s interest no matter how blasé he or she can be. There are even huge banquet halls spread out on the spacious lot that looked like settings for a medieval tale complete with trompe l’oeil ceilings, huge chandeliers, gilded walls and ornate furniture. Cioccolo’s truly kitschy as kitschy can be but in a pleasant way, maybe strangely romantic even like a fantasy world. Contrastingly, the coffee shop looks “normal” and “real world”, warmly lit and inviting for a nightcap. The whole place looks every bit interesting but we wonder if the food could be as “kitschy” good as well.