Neil and I planned a mini food trip in Pampanga last Saturday.? Being a fan of sisig since college I wanted to get a taste from the origin of sisig at the culinary heart of Central Luzon.? Our first stop in the mini food tour was Nathaniels Restaurant at the San Fernando intersection.
We ordered palabok, siomai, siopao, lumpia, halo-halo, and buko pandan juice.? Goldilocks would be put to shame at how tasty and fresh the ingredients were!
First off was the palabok.? A favorite afternoon snack among Filipinos, the palabok is comprised of softened bihon noodles with a generous amount of bright orange sauce topped with strips of pork, tinapa, shrimps, and eggs.? My favorite is the crunchy bits of chicharon sprinkled on top.
Palabok (Php 55.00) – My first reaction = WOW.? The blending and freshness of the ingredients made this the best tasting palabok I’ve ever had! The crunchy chicharon, the eggs, the sauce.? Nothing tasted spoiled, it was all fresh and filling.
Next we tried one of the much-raved items on the Nathaniels menu, the siomai.? According to Neil, families would order large platters of siomai.
Siomai (Php 65.00 for 5 pieces) – Just coming from the best-tasting palabok, this was the best-tasting siomai I’ve ever had. What struck me was how tender it was.? Nathaniel has its own calamansi-soy sauce blend available and it was just perfect!? My mouth waters just thinking about that siomai again.
I ordered lumpia thinking it would be of the fried kind.? You know, the one you would enjoy at a birthday party.? I was looking for a particular crunch.? To my surprise though when they served the lumpia it wasn’t the one I expected.
Lumpia (Php 95.00) – Better known as lumpiang sariwa (Tagalog for fresh), it had a well-grinded filling which I appreciated.? I dislike lumpiang sariwa with fillings that aren’t chopped to bits.? The lumpia here had a nutty taste to it.? I’m not a fan of nuts in my lumpia so this really couldn’t catch up with the palabok and siomai that I loved on the spot.
I’ve always had this thinking that siomai and siopao are cousins. LOL WTH.? So with the great tasting siomai out of the way I already had positive expectations of the siopao.? I was already expecting the siopao to taste good.
Siopao Asado (Php 20.00 each) - “Fresh”. That’s the best way I could describe it. How many times have I used that word already. ?It didn’t feel like I was eating siopao left in the Ministop steam box for hours.? This was siopao that felt like it was freshly baked and prepared in the kitchen just minutes ago.? The asado inside was also a delight.? The sauce was sweet but most importantly did not overdo the taste of the rest of the siopao.
Now time for the refreshments!
Halo-halo (Php 55.00) – We ordered the regular and the taste did not fail.? I don’t like sounding like I have a positive review for everything but this Nathaniels really has it going.? I mean, the palabok and the siomai… now the halo-halo.? WOW.? Crispy ice, fresh milk, the red gulaaaaaman, and the works.? Perfect merienda!
Now try to wipe that smile off my face.
Buko pandan juice (Php 35.00) – They are served in these generic looking mineral water bottles.? For a cautious first timer the reaction would be “Is this legit?”.? I mean, come on, no labels of Nathaniels or anything.? I gave it a try and drank.? I felt the bits and pieces of buko as I downed the ice cold juice.? The third time in this entry: WOW.
The ultimate refresher.? My two-hour biyahe to Pampanga was erased at the refreshing taste of buko pandan juice at Nathaniels Pampanga.
So if you’re interested in trying Nathaniels, please learn that the place closes early.? Yes.? According to Neil they close before 8:00 PM?
Next time I want to try the buko pandan salad and the puto pao.
Make that intersection more than just a pitstop.? Discover NathanielS.? If you’ve just exited the NLEX and turned left in the direction of Subic, the restaurant would be on the left side before the Dolores Intersection overpass in San Fernando, Pampanga.
FYI: There’s a branch along Timog Avenue in Quezon City.