Filipinos love to eat so it’s no wonder that buffet style restaurants are a mainstay in the restaurant scene. One of the most established and well-known buffet restaurants in the Philippines is Cabalen restaurant which offers Filipino cuisine especially Kapampangan Dishes.
Starting out as a small “Bahay Pasalubong” that focuses in specialty dishes in Pampanga, they started their first buffet operation at West Avenue carrying the family name, Cabalen. Cabalen restaurant right then made sure that they offer scrumptious traditional Filipino dishes which are the recipes of some of the best cooks in Pampanga, regarded as the “culinary capital of the Philippines.” Now, on it’s 30th year, the Cabalen Group of Restaurants has a long list of branches in the Philippines and one international branch.
We recently were blessed with the opportunity to be among the bloggers for their first blogger’s event. Invited or not everything written here are our own based on our buffet dining experience.
Interior & Ambiance
The Cabalen SM City Megamall branch we went to has a modern look yet the traditional Filipino home ambiance was retained. Their dining chairs’ seats are of woven cane, while the wooden tables can easily be arranged to form long tables. Everything also was well-lit complementing the bright personalities of the Cabalen’s staff. Finally, the chandelier fixture and intricate wooden carvings added sophistication to the place making it ideal for celebrating occasions.
In this particular branch we ate at, Cabalen features not only Filipino, but also Asian dishes. And for this Filipino-Asian buffet they charge PhP 398 (or 7.98 USD). Otherwise, it’s only PhP 298 (or 5.98 USD) for an all Filipino buffet.
Once seated, you’ll easily notice the table display about Cabalen’s clean plate policy. We applaud them for doing so. Not only is food wastage reduced, but it instills positive value to customers that they get only what they can finish.
Appetizers/ Starters Station
Among these, what we dove our hands in the most was the CRISPY KANGKONG, or battered water spinach leaves. The batter wasn’t light so it ended up a bit stiff instead of downright crispy. However, it’s a great crowd-pleaser nonetheless with its smooth sauce.
Asian Favorites Station
This station has a bit of Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes that are familiar to Filipinos.
The “TAPANG KALABAW,”or dried cured Carabao meat, definitely caught our attention. Not just because it was a Kapampangan delicacy placed among Chinese food, but because it’s Carabao meat. Me-An was hesitant to try it so, being the foodie that I am, I ate several pieces of it. It resembles pork tocino (or sweet cured pork) with its color and tenderness, but its taste is leaning more to sourness.
Although it wasn’t Cabalen’s specialty, their sushi maki were marketable to their customers especially the younger ones. You can even see my hand getting some for myself. It was a good decision for them to include it in their selection.
Salad lovers can help themselves with Cabalen’s self-serve salads which include fresh greens, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, shredded corn and some tossed salads like the bitter gourd salad. What I found interesting among their salad dressings is their bagoong vinaigrette.
The soups they’ve offered were the hearty SINIGANG NA BABOY and BULALO SOUP perfect for warming one’s tummy.
I had the warm BULALO, or beef marrow stew. The beef shank was tender and the broth was deliciously full-bodied in taste. If you have high cholesterol though, it is recommended to avoid this.
Main Courses Station
Those who are terribly hungry can proceed straight to the main courses which include DINUGUAN (or “Pork Blood Stew”), GINTAANG KUHOL (or “snails in coconut milk”) and many more.
Of course, we couldn’t miss eating Cabalen’s famous KARE-KARE, (or ox tripe stew) that won against the other versions of kare-kare in Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho‘s show. We savored the fresh vegetables and tender meat swimming in a rich peanut sauce. It is enjoyable all the more when paired with their bagoong alamang (or shrimp paste).
Cabalen restaurant also offer grilled items such as tilapia, bangus (or milkfish), and hito (or catfish).
Finally, a variety of sizzling sisigs served upon request is offered. The best one of all was the bangus sisig for its captivating flavor.
Customers can also make their own halo-halo, but not the classic one for lack of ingredients. However, Cabalen customers can also make GUINOMIS, a variation of halo-halo that uses sago, gulaman, toasted pinipig, crushed ice and refreshing coconut milk instead of evaporated milk.
Other desserts offered are popular Filipino desserts such as sweetened Saba bananas, sampelot (or sticky rice balls in coconut milk), bico (or rice cake made from sticky rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar), fresh fruits, and a chocolate fondue with marshmallows that kids and chocoholics will certainly like.
With Christmas right around the corner, Cabalen also offers holiday sweet treats. What we’ve seen during our visit was just the SUMAN BULAGTA, a Filipino sweet sticky rice cake steamed in banana leaf. This one was doesn’t have the banana leaf covering anymore.
Other Christmas specialty dishes and sweet treats offered are Seafood Paella, Vegetarian Paella, Paella Negra, Callos, Bibingka and Native Choco.
Cabalen Restaurant is Reasonable
Whether you’re good at eating in buffet restaurants or not, Cabalen restaurant is a reasonable choice to eat at with family and friends. Everyone gets to stuff their stomachs with all they can eat authentic Filipino foods of their choice. No fights over what to order! No waiting time for food to be served. There will only be good conversations while eating and waiting to be hungry again.
Overall, we personally think that it’s also reasonable for casual dates. I like the fact that I don’t need to go over budget just so we can eat a variety of dishes and be satisfied. We also love the fact that the original taste of the dishes were preserved. Therefore, we definitely recommend this to our foreign friends and balikbayan friends especially that it is conveniently present in major locations.
We would love for you to try Cabalen too if you still haven’t or give you the opportunity to eat there once again. So, together with Cabalen, we are giving away buffet passes for 2.
By joining, entrants confirm they are at least 13 years of age and is a Philippine resident.
Note: Winner will be announced on Dec. 8, 2016, 8PM.
Cabalen Restaurant Branches
- Cabalen Robinsons Place Manila | Ground Floor, Sta. Monica Atrium, Robinsons Place Manila, Pedro Gil, Ermita, Manila.
- Cabalen SM City Megamall | Third Level, Mega Atrium, SM Megamall, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.
- Cabalen SM Mall of Asia | Ground Floor, Entertainment Mall Bldg., SM Mall of Asia, Bay Boulevard, Pasay City.
ALL FILIPINO BUFFET
- Cabalen SM City Bacolod | Ground Floor, Expansion Building SM City Bacolod.
- Cabalen SM City Lipa | Second Floor, SM City Lipa, Lipa City, Batangas.
- Cabalen SM City Baliwag Bulacan | Ground Floor, SM City Baliwag, Bulacan.
- Cabalen SM City San Jose Del Monte | Second Floor, SM City San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
- Cabalen SM City Cabanatuan | 4th level, SM City Cabanatuan.
- Cabalen SM City Bacoor | Third Floor, SM City Bacoor. Tirona Highway, Bacoor City, Cavite.
- Cabalen SM City Dasmariñas | Lower Ground Floor, SM City Dasmariñas, Cavite.
- Cabalen SM City Trece Martires | Second Floor, SM City Trece Martires, Cavite.
- Cabalen SM City Cebu | Ground Floor, SM City Cebu, The Northwing Area, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City.
- Cabalen SM Seaside Cebu | Ground Floor, SM Seaside Complex, Cebu City.
- Cabalen West Avenue | #67 West Avenue, Quezon City.
- Cabalen TriNoma | Second Level, TriNoma, EDSA cor. North Ave., Quezon City.
- Cabalen SM City North Edsa | Third Floor, City Center, SM City North Edsa, EDSA cor. North Ave., Quezon City.
- Cabalen SM City Fairview | Ground Floor, Annex 1, SM City Fairview, Quirino Highway, Quezon City.
- Cabalen SM City San Lazaro | Lower Ground Floor, SM City San Lazaro.
- Cabalen Glorietta 2 | Second Floor, New Glorietta 2, Ayala Center, Makati City.
- Cabalen Alabang Town Center | Ground Floor, Entertainment Complex, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa.
- Cabalen Subic | Ground Floor, Harbor Point, Ayala Mall, Rizal Highway, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo City.
- Cabalen Robinsons Pampanga | Ground Floor, Robinsons Starmills, San Fernando, Pampanga.
- Cabalen SM City Clark | Ground Floor, SM City Clark, Clarkfield, Pampanga.
- Cabalen SM City Pampanga | Ground Floor, Activity Center, SM City Pampanga, San Fernando, Pampanga.
- Cabalen San Bruno, USA | 495 San Mateo Avenue, San Bruno, CA 94066,
- Cabalen Market! Market! | Ground Floor, Fiesta Market, Market Market, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
SOON TO OPEN!
SM City Sta. Rosa, SM City Southmall, SM City Iloilo, SM City Manila, and SM City Davao.