Women's Home Companion
architecture and interiors by Melinda P. Laudico

Cabalen Restaurant brings its famed Pampango home cooking to Manilans in a 1950's-inspired setting, which opened recently at Robinson's Place in Ermita, Manila.

The 130-seat new Cabalen located on the 2/F, Robinson's Place, is designed by UP-trained architect Popi Laudico who drew her inspirations from the 50's.

Laudico made use of '50s-inspired geometric grillwork, minimalist wooden finish and Murano floor tiles. She also designed a very compact kitchen.

The new Cabalen certainly veers away from the predictably ethnic look of many native restaurants. It has very Filipino touches but with a very '90s global ambiance of modernity.




Cabalen president Maritel Nievera with architect Popi Laudico at Cabalen Robinson's Place.







"It has that old Cabalen feel but this time, there's a 50s twist," says Maritel Nievera, Cabalen president. "But like all other Cabalens, it is reminiscent of a period in the history of the Philippines. For instance, Cabalen in SM Megamall, designed by Claude Tayag, is inspired by the Bahay ng Gobernador. The Cabalen at the Quad in Makati, done by Reimon Gutierrez, is modern Pinoy, while Cabalen on West Avenue in Quezon City is classic Pinoy.

As a backdrop for the buffet table, UP artist Jet Melencio designed a mural that incorporates elements of the 50s when abstract art was in full bloom. This will carry individually designed plates that are conversation pieces in themselves.

The bowls for the buffet table were especially designed for Cabalen by Yola Laudico of Soumak Collections.

"With the new Cabalen, we hope to hit the A to C market. We will offer our eat-all-you-can buffet for the same price at P198," stresses Maritel whose buffet offerings include Pampango delicacies such as sizzling sisig, camaru (rice field crickets), sinigang na ulang, adobong snipes, tapang usa, crispy pata, inihaw na hito with burong isda sa mustasa, kare-kare, kaldereta, bopis, batute (fried frog), chicharon Guagua, bistek na tiyan ng bangus, dinuguan, ginataang hipon, paksiw na bangus, lumpiang sariwa, ginataang kuhol, nilasing na hipon, among others.

The dessert buffet spread includes halo-halo, halayang ube, tibok-tibok, maja blanca, palitaw, ginataang halo-halo, leche flan, buco pandan, pandan cake, bibingkang malagkit and fresh fruits.

Nievera also runs a chain of Pinoy deli outlets offering practically all the food offerings from sweets to biscuits, to all kinds of vinegar, bagoong, and longganiza from all over the Philippines.