August 16, 2014

Bale Dutung - Pampanga's Culinary Destination

Bale Dutung is Pampanga's Culinary Destination. Located inside a village in Angeles City, we traveled 2 and a half hours from Alabang for a 10-course Kapampangan Meal. The private-dining experience for minimum of 12 pax should be booked weeks ahead. Our group was scheduled to dine today, August 16. 

We arrived around 11:30am. The weather was perfect.

Bale Dutung is owned by foodie couple, Claude and Mary Ann Tayag.  Their house is very different from the neighboring residences. Upon entering the gate, you will feel like going to a farm in a rural area. Bale Dutung actually means "Wooden House" in Kapampangan.

We dined at their "silong."  The place was picture perfect. So many vintage items that blended well with the bahay-kubo vibe of the house.

This was our table. Each one was provided with the guest list and the menu.

We started with an introduction by Mary Ann.  She welcomed everyone and explained how to enjoy Kapampangan Cuisine.  They carefully planned the menu, ensuring each dish taste profile will lead to another. She also requested if everyone could try the dishes without adding any condiments first so that the guests can taste how the chef intended the flavors to be. On the 2nd/3rd bite, that's the time you apply condiments as needed.  They served fresh Melon juice to wipe our palate clean before the 10-course feast.  Frozen towels were also provided on the side just in case the heat becomes a bit intolerable.

Note: I wasn't able to take photos of Claude as Mary Ann did all the talking.

First up were crackers with 3 dips: Pesto, Taba ng Talangka and Balu-balo (shrimp buro), intended to be tried in that order (from weak to strong flavor).  They also served pitchers of ice cold salabat juice, very refreshing!  A few moments later, salad was served (Ensaladang Pako or Fern) which marked the 1st of the 10.  Interestingly, in traditional Kapampangan culture, serving Pako to guests was actually considered an insult as Pako is a common plant which you can simply get from your backyard.  But with salad this good, no insults taken!

Pesto, Taba ng Talangka and Balo-balo dips

1: Ensaladang Pako

Next up, dishes 2-5.  By the way, Claude is actually pronounced as "Cloud" so you're actually on "Claude 9" with every bite!

2: Piniritong Lumpiang Ubod sa Claude'9 Oriental Sauce

3: Inasal na Manok at Claude'9 Talangka Sushi
4: Adobong Pugo

5: Hito at Balo-balo Sushi

The inasal was very flavorful, as well as the Adobong Pugo which you rarely get in Manila.

Half-way through, we were so full already. But we didn't want to break the momentum, so for the next dish, we went to the "taco station" for the famous Make-your-own Lechon Taco!

6: Fried Lechon flakes binalot sa Tortilla at Claude'9 Oriental Sauce (Lechon Taco)

They gave us several sawsawan choices for the taco.  I loved their suka and chili sauce!  Lechon was good and really heavy!

No break time for our group because we actually thought we can't have one, hehe. So after our yummy Lechon Taco, they started serving us rice (white in triangle and brown in rectangle) wrapped in banana leaves to prepare for the next dish: Bulanglang.  For us Manila-based, the closest thing to Bulanglang is Sinigang sa Bayabas. Another piece of Kapampangan culture from Mary Anne: Traditional Bulanglang was prepared with thick guava soup, termed as "Sabaw na Panloob" or para sa may-ari ng bahay and guests.  For the kasambahay, they dilute the soup by adding more water (so it can be shared by many).  This is called "Sabaw na Panlabas" or for non-family members.  Of course, they served us "Sabaw Panloob" for the win!

7: Bulanglang Kapampangan na may Tian ng Bangus, Ulang at Tadyang ng Baboy

Then came sisig in 2-ways.  The first picture was for the sisig included in our group package, while the second one (traditional sisig) was for the other group who I believe was on the Anthony Bourdain menu.  Good thing Mary Ann was kind enough to offer it to us too!

8: Begcuan Tenga ng Babi at Ensaladang Talong

Then we were down to the last 2 dishes. Mary Ann pulled out some magazines and books as she explained how world-renowned Chefs and writers loved this next dish, seafood kare-kare, which really was the highlight of our lunch.  Presentation pa lang, busog ka na!  This really did not disappoint, and left us craving for more even when we were full!

9: Kare-kareng Laman Dagat

For the dessert finale, Paradiso was served, which was really sweets galore.  Imagine pastillas base topped with scoops of yema, ube and macapuno.  Best with coffee or tea, available at the coffee/tea station.

10: Paradiso

We can't believe we reached 10, for most of us this was our first experience of a 10-course meal.  I must say that each quality dish was carefully thought of.  The build up of flavor from salad to dessert was expertly done. And the best part of it is that we can replicate at home with some Claude' 9 products. Every one bought their favorites, these are also great for pasalubongs!

I would highly recommend a visit to Bale Dutung. The trip was really worth it!  Best to bring your family or your friends to enjoy the feast with great company.

Bale Dutung
Paul cor. Francis Avenue
Villa Gloria Subd. Angeles City


  1. That kare-kare looks fantastic! Everything does, actually. :) Looks like it's really worth the visit.

    1. Yes, Patricia! It's a must-visit. A great culinary destination! :-)