Kapampangan cuisine is known for its rich, complex flavors, with the province earning the moniker culinary capital of the Philippines.
It came as no surprise then that when Binulo Restaurant opened inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga in 2011, it gained a loyal following of local and foreign tourists alike owing to the authentic dishes that it served.
“Binulo,” which means “to wrap” in Kapampangan, aptly reflects the restaurant’s dedication to preserving and showcasing the rich culinary heritage of Pampanga.
Among the customers who were captivated by Binulo’s dishes were Cavite Rep. Aniela Tolentino and her partner, Augustine Roa.
Roa initially asked the lawmaker to try the food he fell in love with at first taste, and there was no turning back since.
“Every foodie knows that Kapampangan food is one of the best in the Pinoy culinary category. Actually, there are a lot of Filipinos who do not know that several Pinoy favorite dishes originated from Pampanga,” said the 28-year-old Tolentino.
The young couple convinced the owner of Binulo to allow them to franchise the brand to bring the Kapampangan dishes they have come to love to Tagaytay.
Tolentino said from the cooking process to the items in the menu, the Tagaytay branch consciously ensured people in the south would enjoy the same experience as that of the loyal customers of Binulo in Pampanga.
“Even our kitchen staff — the owner’s head chef in Pampanga is also here in Tagaytay until we establish the restaurant for maybe half a year. All of our kitchen staff right now came all the way from Pampanga so that the menu, the process of cooking, and the service are really replicated,” Tolentino said.
Stepping inside Binulo in Tagaytay, guests are afforded stunning views of paintings carefully curated by Tolentino herself.
Among the must-try dishes in the menu is the Binulo Sisig, a sizzling plate of chopped pork ears, cheeks, and liver, seasoned with a blend of onions, garlic, and chili peppers. The dish is a true embodiment of Kapampangan ingenuity — transforming humble ingredients into a culinary masterpiece.
There is also the classic Kare-Kare, a rich and savory oxtail stew with a thick peanut sauce, vegetables, and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).
For those seeking a lighter option, the Pako Salad is a refreshing choice and also Tolentino’s personal favorite.
“Salad is like the common veggies we know being put together, but for our Pako Salad, when you see its dressing, it’s pink. It has a very, very secret recipe why the dressing is color pink,” she said.
Another dish that customers should not miss is the Binukadkad na Hito with tangy buro and fresh veggies on the side.
No Kapampangan culinary experience is complete without savoring the Tibuk-tibuk, the region’s version of the maja blanca which is topped with grated coconut.
With its commitment to quality ingredients, traditional cooking methods, and warm hospitality, Binulo is slowly establishing itself as a culinary gem in the heart of Tagaytay.
“There are people who would drive to Pampanga just to try the dishes of Binulo. And so we decided to bring Pampanga to Tagaytay because they wanted to try it. When people see the sign at the highway, they already know that it’s the Binulo from Pampanga,” Tolentino said.