Last weekend, we braved the stormy roads of EDSA and North Luzon Expressway, as we headed for Angeles, Pampanga. We stayed at my cousins' place and used the time for a much needed rest and relaxation. After a buffet of lechon, pancit, large prawns, spareribs, embutido and mixed vegetables, everyone was more than full, so we took a tour around their huge rest house to give our digestive systems ample time to rest before attacking the dessert table. The tour lasted for about half an hour, and as we gathered once more around the dinner table, with plate-loads of sweets in our hands, happily yakking away the latest momentous adventure each one of us had, I began to take notice of the quickly disappearing rice cake in front of me.
My curiosity of the said rice cake's creator prompted me to tag along with my cousins for a short drive to the town. Apparently, the makers were quite famous around the city. We arrive in front of a small restaurant slash store of Susie's Cuisine, a purveyor of Pampanga's native delicacies.
The place is small, filled with a few tables for dining customers. One thing I noticed though, at least one person would go through the door every 5 minutes (to the direction of the restaurant of course). This is a good sign, I thought with approval.
The menu board revealed that the place was indeed more than a kakanin store. From pancit to pasta to even siomai and halo halo, its Filipino snack-filled menu had us craving again (and this is just a couple of hours after eating).
I made my way to the shelves of assorted sweets. I can see tarts, marzipan, choco bars, turrones de casoy, assorted flavors of polvoron...
The rack on the side provided different variants of tamarind balls and some dried mangoes.
The opposite shelf on the other hand, showcased banana chips, garlic buttered toasts and some marblenuts.
Excitedly, I went up to the counter and began to survey the different kakanin lining up the counter top. Nearest to me was the Special Cassava (P140 per box; P12 per slice) which was light in density and not too sweet. But though my taste buds welcomed the cake, I knew it wasn't what I came here for.
A better personal preference would be the Rice Cake (P140 per box; P12 per slice). Much sweeter in nature, it is best served warm until it becomes soft and a bit chewy inside the mouth. I ate about 4 slices of this when we got back to the rest house (I forgot that (1) I just had lunch and dessert a couple of hours earlier which already included a slice of this rice cake, and (2) more than 2 slices were too heavy for the stomach to consume in one sitting).
Perhaps more than anything, Susie's was known for their Tibok-Tibok (P400 per bilao; P20 per slice). Akin to the more familiar maja blanca, it's made of carabao milk topped with latik or caramel toppings. It was my first time to try one and I love its silky consistency as it glides smoothly through your palate. That melt-in-your-mouth effect will have you take in bite after bite, if only to prolong that sweet, velvety feeling its texture brings. A word of warning though, this particular kakanin isn't destined to last for a long period of time. Better finish it within a couple of days. And don't mix in the latik if you are not yet to consume it within the next ten minutes, or it will spoil faster.
Another of their specialties is the Moche (P250 per bilao; P5 per piece). It's rice dough with bean paste filling. It's best served hot, with equally hot sweetened gata poured all over it, enveloping and drenching the bland moche with its rich and sweet flavor.
Other kakanins are the Aleya Ube, Sapin-Sapin, Bico Kalabasa and Kalame Ube. I passed up on these other glutinous rice cakes after buying a total of four boxes of the aforementioned Filipino desserts.
Lest I forget, I should already mention that kakanin is not the only type of food that established Susie's Cuisine's fame. Another fare of worth is their pancit palabok. I've made the unfortunate decision of not leaving enough empty room to have a taste of this dish. Indeed it looks scrumptious and all my cousins rave about it. They swear by its unparalleled taste. And judging by the look of this picture, I'm not one to disagree. I guess that's just another reason to go back to Pampanga.