A Taste for the Exotic at Copung Copung Grill, Angeles City

It was our second and last day in Pampanga and the last day of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and after the  fast food breakfast  amongst the balloons at Clark, we wanted something natural and  home-cooked.  Rene suggested we go to Copung Copung over at McArthur Highway, which  was just a short walk away from our hotel. Copung Copung  looks like your typical native restaurant, but  it is known to serve a number of exotic dishes unique to Pampanga. Best sellers include the roasted  crickets or camaro, and fried frogs, among other dishes. I've never had any of those before, so I was eager to try them out.

Going in  you will really see that the restaurant is going for a native,  laid-back vibe, one that makes you think you're just having lunch in your backyard. There's the restaurant whichis visible from the street, and then once you go in you are led to the back where bamboo cottages stand in a row. Large, square pillows are  strewn on the floor of each cottage, and there's a small table in the middle. Rene said something about the traditional way of sitting down on  the floor and eating on  low tables, so this must be how Kapampangans used to eat back in the day. The waitresses are in the native Filipiniana get-up too, which  adds to the authenticity of the place.




FOOD
Ah, the food. Where shall I begin?We ordered  the crickets, deep fried frog or betute, bulalo, and chicaron bulaklak. The camaro (crickets) were done adobo style, and looked like your typical Pinoy dish. I think it was sauteed in soy sauce and vinegar along with a few herbs, which gave the crickets a really tasty aroma. The crickets are rice field crickets, so this must mean that they are cleaner than your regular crickets. They are very juicy, although while eating them I felt like I was eating a cross between  hemp and shrimp.







I think the betute agreed with me more, but I found its skin to be a bit tough and leathery. I have no idea if that's how tough frog meat should be, but it was still tasty, a little bit like chicken meat. The frog was stuffed with diced vegetables and meat, which added  a bit of flavor. I had no problem picking the meat off the bone, since it was really just like eating chicken.



The chicharon bulaklak, ( deep fried pig intestines) was more familiar, so naturally we finished it first. It came mixed with onions, and none of the  tell-tale intestine-y smell that bad chicharon  have. It was crispy and was not oily at all, and  went well with the beef stew, which came piping hot in its own clay pot.




Paired with  rice wrapped in banana leaves (there's something about banana leaves that just makes rice smell soooo good!), everything came together to make one sumptuous lunch for four hungry travelers. To top it all off, I got to flex my 'try-anything-and-everything muscles. For a while  there I thought about completing my bucket list, since I could definitely cross off  'eat adobong crickets' and 'eat fried frogs' off.

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