Cabalen, SM Dasmarinas

Our family often eats out whenever we have something to celebrate. This month, my youngest brother bagged some awards. He’s the most outstanding student of College of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Natural Resources (CAFENR). He’s also one of the Top 5 Most Outstanding Students of Cavite State University (CVSU). He’s an academic Scholar from 1st yr to 4th yr, and  he got the 2nd Place at the Local Agricultural Science Quiz Bee. Hmmm, pretty overachiever like me. Char! Anyway let’s go back to business and make some restaurant reviews!

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I tried different buffets in Manila. I’ve been to Yakimix, Buffet 101, Brasserie on 3 at Conrad Manila, Firefly Roofdeck & Spice Cafe at City Garden Grand Hotel, and Skydeck at Bayleaf Hotel Intramuros. However, I’ve never tried a buffet with Filipino cuisine until now.

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They serve Bihon, Patola, Kuhol, Bopis, Kare-kare, Dinuguan, and many more!

Cabalen is a Kapampangan term derived from Balen meaning town.  According to an interview with Maritel Nievera, the owner of Cabalen, it started as a small “pasalubong” store in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Besides their delicious Filipino dishes, Cabalen has a corner for Sisig! Sisig is Filipino dish made from parts of pig head and liver. In this restaurant, they have variants of tofu, chicken, bangus, and pork sisig. I think that’s because Sisig is the signature dish of Kapampangans.

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Sisig, Steamed Vegetables, Grilled Fish

People can’t get Sizzling Sisig from the counter. To get sizzling sisig, customers must order from the waiter. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have any charges. I think it’s good so that people can eat hot meals.

They also have food for pica pica. They have lumpiang shanghai, lumpiang ubod, okoy kalabasa, and crispy kangkong. There are also different types of dips to choose from.

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There’s a corner for Pritchon – Pritong Lechon. Just put the Pritchon on the pita bread and add veggies on top of it. You may also add sauce before rolling it.

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If you’re tired of the meat, you can check out their salad bar. To be honest, it looks boring for me. I prefer the salad bar of Wendy’s. The only thing I enjoyed eating is the lato seaweed!

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It’s surprising to see some Maki rolls. I didn’t try it because it doesn’t look tasty to me. Living in Korea for two years, I can judge the taste of these rolls based on how they look.

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For the desserts, my sister enjoyed the marshmallows and the chocolate fountain. I and my brothers made some DIY halohalo (Filipino dessert with shaved ice). My mother ate kakanin (rice cakes) and fruits.

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For drinks, you may ask them for a glass of water or you may get some sago’t gulaman. They also offer some fruit shakes, iced tea, and sodas but you have to pay additional fees for that.

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This is the most affordable buffet I’ve experienced. I only paid around 1,600 for six people. Outside the restaurant, they advertise it as 298 pesos (+VAT). How come I only paid 1,600? I asked them if there’s a promo for birthday celebrants. My grandmother celebrated her birthday earlier this month so she’s FREE of charge! Celebrants are free of charge as long as they are accompanied by three full paying adults. Moreover, we also got 50% off for my sister.  Children below 3 ft are free, while children between 3-4 ft gets 50% discount. 

The food is good. I love their Dinuguan and Pritchon. However, I’m quite disappointed with their Sisig. I expected more since it’s Pampanga’s specialty. I think the Sisig in Lechon Haus is better.

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The chandeliers made the ambiance elegant. On the other hand, their dining wares are not that good. The place mats are low quality papers. They easily get ripped off when they are wet. Some bowls have broken handles. And it takes a long time before they replace the glasses for halohalo.

Will I go back here? Definitely but not too soon. If my friends from other countries will visit Philippines, I’m going to bring them here so they can taste the flavors of traditional Filipino food.

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