Superb Pampanga dishes invade Bulacan

In Photo: Funnside Ningnangan branch at Santa Cruz, Guiguinto, Bulacan.

GUIGUINTO, Bulacan—The distinct and superb Capampangan food is invading Bulacan, making believers of Pampanga’s claim that it is, indeed, the “Culinary Center of the Philippines.”  

Noriel Magtoto (left), operations manager of Funnside Ningnangan, checks on the quality of the restaurant’s offerings at the restaurant’s branch in Guiguinto, Bulacan.
Noriel Magtoto (left), operations manager of Funnside Ningnangan, checks on the quality of the restaurant’s offerings at the restaurant’s branch in Guiguinto, Bulacan.

Funnside Ningnangan grill restaurant, which started in Santo Tomas town in 2011, is opening its third branch in Bulacan.

A successful combination in the challenging food business: Passion to serve the best meals and a partner who ensures their restaurants and its facilities are clean and beautiful.

But there is more to it than just the success story of Funnside Ningnangan. New customers will be amazed by the affordable prices of the wide variety of dishes. 

Apalit, Pampanga, native Librada G. Manlapaz and Arch. Jong F. Naguit of Santo Tomas, Pampanga, are the driving force behind the fast rise to the top of Funnside Ningnangan restaurants.

Both Manlapaz and Naguit are food lovers, and no wonder their restaurants are invading new territories outside Pampanga. The restaurant was born in Pampanga and branched out in Tarlac and Bulacan.

In 2011 Manlapaz started a grill business named Funnside in Sampaga, Apalit. The sought-after caterer decided to open a small restaurant to primarily give her relatives and neighbors employment and additional income. Then she met Naguit, a regular customer of Funnside Apalit and her catering venture.  

Naguit wanted Santo Tomas to be known not just for its pottery and casket-making industries but a haven for sumptuous food, as well, similar to other towns and cities in Pampanga. He partnered with Manlapaz. The Funnside Ningnangan in San Matias, Santo Tomas, was their first outlet.  It served the public beginning September 2011.

Grilled Tilapia and Bulalo.
Grilled Tilapia and Bulalo.

A year later, on September 9, 2012, the branch in Apalit was reopened, made bigger in terms of seating capacity and renamed Funnside Ningnangan. 

“As an architect, Jong Naguit made sure all our present and future branches are the same when it comes to design of the restaurant and concept of service. Funnside Ningnangan prioritizes cleanliness of its food, areas and facilities, notably comfort rooms,” said Noriel Magtoto, operations manager of Funnside Ningnangan.

“With the local’s craftsmanship, Architect Naguit turned the simple bahay-kubo design from a simple one to a very elegant design and concept. Combining the traditional with contemporary architecture, he designed and maintained its simplicity but promoted modernism, which gave the ambiance its stylish and classy appeal,” he said. Naguit added that the word ningnangan, which means grill,  or ihawan in Tagalog.

Today, Funnside Ningnangan has three branches in Pampanga and one in Tarlac. The third branch in Pampanga is on FG Nepo Avenue in Angeles City. The branch near Marquee Mall in Pulung Maragul started to delight customers in July 2012.

The lone outlet in President Aquino’s home province is in San Rafael, Tarlac City.

The first branch in Bulacan is on DRT Highway in Pulilan town. Its construction started in 2013.

A Bulacan resident posted her comments on TripAdvisor web site in 2014 after she visited Funnside Ningnangan Pulilan: “Me and my family and extended family always come to this place, as they can cater big groups. Big and spacious place where kids can run around.  They have a projector screen for sports viewing. It’s kinda like a sports bar but more of a family gathering place. You’ll get to taste the best viands for a very affordable price.”

“Everything is really good,” she added. Her favorites or must-try: Salmon in Miso Soup; a wide range of barbecue options; pako with salted egg and tomatoes; buttered or sinigang shrimp; and crispy pata [to name  a few].”

“Customer service is very good. Crew are all attentive and always willing to assist,” the comments posted in March 2014 said.

A few months ago, Funnside Ningnangan ventured deeper into the heart of Bulacan—at the boundary of Guiguinto and Malolos, Bulacan’s capital city.

Its second branch in Bulacan is on MacArthur Highway in Santa Cruz, Guiguinto. It is near the famous Eurobake, home to Bulacan’s inipit and ensaymada.  

The tremendous success of Funnside Ningnangan Guiguinto prompted Manlapaz and Naguit to open a third branch in Bulacan. It will be at the boundary of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, and Makatipo, Tala, Caloocan City. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held in July, and the upcoming outlet is expected to open before the year-end holidays.

Asked what makes Funnside Ningnangan a hit in Bulacan, Magtoto said:  “No one can contest that we have the best-tasting food. The people in Bulacan can’t believe they pay less for a superb dinner or lunch.”

 A skewer of pork barbecue costs P28. An order of fish sinigang is about P150 per serving, and two to three people can share it.

“We just don’t serve truly tasty grilled fish, pork and chicken. We are also known as a seafood restaurant serving only fresh aquaculture and marine products,” Magtoto said.   

People don’t have to dig deeper into their pockets when they want to have happy stomachs.


Image Credits: Leo Villcarlos

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Joey N. Pavia is a veteran reporter based in Pampanga. Aside from news, he also contributes feature stories and articles about local and international travels. He is also focus on making business news as