Bountiful Pleasures: Apag Marangle

9 months ago

apag marangle


CHERRY PASION TAN AND MARK NAVARRO ARE PROUD OF THEIR KAPAMPANGAN ROOTS AND THEY SIMPLY WANT TO SHARE THE DISHES THEY HAVE COME TO LOVE WHILE GROWING UP. This was what prompted the pair to open the first Apag Marangle branch in Bacolor, Pampanga. There, customers can feast on an authentic Kapampangan food while taking delight in the lush greenery surrounding the fishing grounds, where the bamboo restaurant on stilts is located.

Right from the beginning, it had been
the duo’s mission to teach others what
real Pampanga cuisine is all about. “We would like to bring back the authentic Kapampangan cuisine, which is cooking without the shortcuts—from the preparation of the ingredients, to the cooking method, to serving the dish.


“Everything is done the traditional way,” the partners shared in unison. “No fusion, no twists—kung paano lang siya dapat niluluto,” Cherry finishes.

In order to create the complete Apag Marangle experience (“hain sa bukid” in Tagalog), the partners made a way to bring the restaurant’s bucolic charm to Makati’s commercial district. Their Park Square branch is designed with a special balsa section or an elevated dining area made up of bamboo simulating the dining ambience in their Bacolor branch. Underneath the balsa is a mini fish pond where live catfish can swim freely—until the next diner comes in and orders fried hito. Wash basins can
also be found in the restaurant so customers can wash their hands before and after eating, kamay-kainan style.


The cooks of Apag take their sweet time preparing the specialty dishes every day. This is because Apag Marangle upholds
the tradition of slow-cooking dishes, with stocks and sauces made from scratch— absolutely no short-cuts. For example, the corn used for the Suam Mais is grated every morning to ensure its freshness. Once you taste the sweet corn soup made more tempting with chunks of chicharon, you’ll
 be amazed at how the simplest ingredients can bring such enticing flavors. Another notable dish that shines using the humblest of ingredients is the Pepaluk Manuk or pinaupong manok. A whole chicken is rubbed with sea salt then wrapped in a banana leaf. After four hours of dry-steaming over a bed of sea salt, the tender white chicken is then transferred onto a kawali and served with two dips: spiced toyo and an in-house liver sauce. The chicken meat tastes fantastic: unadulterated and juicy, with a hint of sweetness from the banana leaf.

I was told that Pampangueños love to bring dishes to another level and
 I understood what they
 meant when I tasted
the Humba served
with a side of ripe

The creamy sweetness of the banana levels out the intensity of the salty pork making the entire dish harmonious in every bite. Another glorious offering was Tidtad or white dinuguan. Compared to the black dinuguan, this Kapampangan version omits the use of pig’s blood as a sauce but rather lets it coagulate and cook in vinegar together with pork chunks and offal. The result is a rich sour stew which you’ll want to pair with Nasing Marangle, the restaurant’s flavorful pinakbet rice.


Apag Marangle’s take on the Kare-kare is also a delight—generous portions of oxtail, tripe, and vegetables are cooked in a peanut sauce made from scratch. Don’t forget to pair this with the homemade sweet bagoong.

Like a true Kapampangan eatery, Apag Marangle also offers its seasonal delicacies— Betute (fried frog stuffed with minced ground pork, vegetables, and alagaw leaves) and Camaru (mole crickets) cooked two- ways: ginisa, which is sautéed in aromatics or pritu (inadobo-style).

“Good food brings back memories,” Cherry explains. And that’s probably why customers keep coming back for more. So, if you’re thinking of traditional and authentic Kapampangan homecooking in the city, Apag Marangle should be right there at the forefront.

Words by Angeli De Rivera

Photographed by
 Miguel Abesamis of Studio 100


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