Isla Fiesta, a Kapampangan-themed restaurant guaranteeing diners a daily fiesta atmosphere while they indulge in Pampanga specialties and other favorite dishes, opened its doors on Sunday in the city.
The newest addition to Puerto Princesa’s culinary scene can be found at the Tourism Mile on Rizal Avenue Extension, close to the city’s old airport.
Rowena and Lito Manalang, former Amanpulo employees, said Isla Fiesta is offering an introductory price of P349 for its buffet meal for seven days before implementing their regular rate of P399.
Lito explained that the idea for Isla Fiesta came from their son Gabriel, who believed it would be suitable given that Palawan is an island province. Fiesta because they strive to deliver buffet meals that are not only delicious but also filling.
“Gusto namin yong maranasan ng mga Palaweño yong traditional na fiesta–yong talagang as in yong pagkain hindi tinipid. Hindi naman ako nagsasabi na yong iba tinipid. Gusto namin ma-experience nila yong dining ng Kapampangan,” Lito said.
“Kapag fiesta kasi sa amin, ganyan ang mga pagkain,” Rowena added.
Isla Fiesta has a stronger Kapampangan flavor, but the husband and wife team added that for a more celebratory atmosphere, they are also presenting meals from other provinces.
After all, a fiesta is centered around serving guests a variety of meals. “Kapag kumain ka dito, para ka nang kumain sa Barrio Fiesta, sa Jollibee, sa Mang Inasal, Greenwich–kasi may pizza, may french fries, hotdog–bata, matanda, mag-e-enjoy dito.”
Before venturing into the food business, Joel said they worked in Amanpulo on Pamalican Island in Cuyo town in 1993. In 2000, they went to mainland Cuyo to set up a small food catering and restaurant business, but the market was limited.
They sold properties, Rowena and Lito said, to come up with the capital they needed to go to Puerto Princesa.
“Ang pinaka naisip ko yong peddler, yong mamihan, or pares-pares, pero noodles ang sa akin. Beef mami, yon ganoon,” he said, deciding to finally live in the city for good.
Among the Kapampangan cuisines they recommend which are rich in culinary heritage are their kare-kare (beef meat cooked in thick savory peanut sauce), asadong pork (marinated in citrus juice and soy sauce), and hamonado pork (sweet pork dish), which he grew up eating.
Lito also recommends that foodies try their version of bringhe, which is made with glutinous rice, veggies, and coconut milk.
“Kung alam niyo yong paella, ganoon siya,” he said, describing it as heavy, flavorful, and certain to be a crowd pleaser.
Rowena said that although they have not yet fully opened, they have already had reservations from groups that wish to try their fiesta buffet meals.
Soon, they also plan to put up an events venue for big functions near the Isla Fiesta.
Isla Fiesta is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Those who choose not to eat from the buffet would have access soon to their ala carte selections, they added.