TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
If you are looking for a restaurant that is serving the country’s cuisine and a place that will allow you to observe the dining culture of the Filipinos then Funnside Ninangangan is the right place to be. Currently, it has several branches which reflects that it is a click among Filipinos because it fits the local taste and preference. If you are a foreigner who would like to try Filipino cuisine and observe how Filipinos enjoy their food then be here and eat like a real Filipino. Now if you are a Filipino and want to be real in the way you eat, then do it as you please and enjoy your food. This restaurant is certainly a place to celebrate local cuisine and local culture.
If I would have to determine the theme of the restaurant, I would say its Filipino and it’s a certified Filipino restaurant because it genuinely embodies the authentic Filipino dining culture and life scene. And here are the reason why:
1. Filipino traditional structures – Eating in a Nipa Hut
Expect that you’ll be dining in a nipa hut when you dine in this restaurant as the structure of the restaurant is made of bamboo with a thatched roof. You have the options to choose whether to dine in the main dining area where most diners frequently go to or opt for the individual huts should you want privacy. The property is spacious allowing comfort and privacy even a lot of locals dine here in groups. The branch I went to is Funnside Ningnangan in Santo Tomas and I must say that this is one of their branches that is designed beautifully and spacious and has a resemblance of a native-inspired resort.
2. Filipino Trait – Genuine Hospitality
One thing that you must know before eating here is that it is self-service. Your needs won’t be served to you, but they are all readily prepared and available. That means you have to get your own spoon, fork, plates, ice bucket, condiments sauces, spices, drink, and even rice. Now, where is hospitality in there you may ask, well actually, even if it is self-service, the staff are actually courteous and will guide you on what you will do or where to get what. They are also approachable so rest assured that they’ll help you out when you ask them. The self-service system allows anybody to feel at home and be comfortable in moving around the place to get what they need. Also, another commendable character of this restaurant is that it trusts its diners that they only get enough of what they need. Despite that self automation is the system, the staff here are helpful and sensitive enough with the needs of their diners hence represents hospitality in the real sense of it. There is no need for staged formal pleasantries because it has an informal setting but the nicety of Filipinos effortlessly elicits that allows anyone to see the genuine Filipino hospitality in real situations.
3. Filipino culinary fare – ‘Ningnang’
The restaurant’s name itself suggests what to expect here. ‘Ningnang’ means grill in Kapampangan from which the word ‘Ningnangan’ was derived which means grilling place. Its name ‘Funnside Ningnangan’, ‘ somewhat translates to the fun side of grilling place. Expect to eat Filipino food which means different Filipino viands with rice and different local deserts like Sweetened Banana with Sago and Leche Flan with Macapuno. Expect that the dishes here suits the contemporary Filipino palette. The savory dishes and desserts here are already pre-cooked, however, what makes this restaurant popular is allowing the diners choose their raw meat and have it grilled. The barbecue meat is already on sticks and marinated while the fishes and seafood are already cleaned and ready to be grilled. All you have to do is pick according to your preference, then pay for it and bring it the grill man. Now in my case, though this may sound petty but whenever I have the chance to dine here, what I craved to have here is their barbecue sauce.
Barbecue and Grilled Hotdogs
Barbecue Sauce and other condiments
4. Filipino food presentation – Banana Leaf Plate and Wrap
If dishes in other restaurants are served artistically, expect that the food presentation here is simply served, however, what it makes it remarkable to me is that it is presented in a local style. Filipinos would like to use banana leaf when they are eating as they use it as a plate and on some intances, it serves as a common plate in a boodle fight. In here, each wooden plate has a banana leaf where you can put your food on, while their rice is wrapped with banana leaf making the scent of banana leaf linger on the food.
Rice wrapped in banana leaf
5. Filipino manner of eating – ‘Kamayan’ or Eating with your hands
Filipinos would like to eat their rice meals with their bare hands. This somehow increases their appetite and allows them to be comfortable in enjoying their food. They best enjoy this especially when they are eating with their family or friends and everybody is eating with their hands. While most Filipino restaurants also serve Filipino cuisines, the diners are expected to use spoon and fork when eating, whereas here, the normal expectation is you will use your bare hands when eating. This certainly reflects the dining culture of Filipinos, and for anyone who’s not accustomed to this, and yet you want to learn more of about the interesting way of how Filipinos enjoy their food, then this is the best place to be in to observe and eat the Filipino way.
Spoons and Forks are also available
6. Filipino family culture – Close Family Ties
They say Filipinos are happy people. Ever wonder why? Because Filipinos are sociable and would like to spend time with family and friends that enables them to share laughter with their loved ones making their life meaningful and memory filled. This is exactly what you will see in this restaurant where different groups of diners are bonding as they share laughter while having table talk and celebrating the food. In one table you may see different generations in the family are all seated from grandparents, aunts, uncles fathers/mothers to their little ones. While on the other table you may see a group of friends loudly laughing and chatting.
Table waiting for group dining
This is a go-to place for any local who’s near the area, while this is a must go to place for anyone who would like to experience to dine like a Filipino. Hence if you want to see a restaurant that really embodies Filipino dining culture then this is the place to be. A restaurant that reflects Filipino culture and country cuisines.
Ventilation in Tropical Setting
This restaurant has several branches but the branch that has been described here is Funnside Ningnangan in San Matias. It is located at San Matias, Santo Tomas, Pampanga.
If you have dined in any restaurant where you have eaten with your hands or have observed a dining culture you appreciate, kindly share it at the comment box below.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All expenses are paid by the author.