Updated 1/12/2011.

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My love affair with Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung (House of Wood in Kapampangan) started last March when 22 foodies decided to bravely go where none of us have gone before. I was speechless. I was not able to complete my blog post on Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung last March 20, 2007 because of the overwhelming emotions that I don’t know where to start.

It is like a dream come true experience where you relive the experience in your head and rave about it to yourself. I felt writing about it will not bring justice to the experience because I would only write – Awesome food! Awesome hosts! Awesome ambiance! I was contented with reading the food trip account of Wysgal (Rants and Raves), Mila (Watergirl), Spanx (Manila Boy), Nena (Ramblings from a Gypsy Soul), Anne (Eat Bangus) and Joey (80 Breakfasts).

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Six (6) months after that experience, my brother, Lorenz and wife, Carmina, who got married just last October, requested me to organize a Pampanga Tour with Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung as the highlight of the trip. How could I refuse?

We were lucky to get a booking at Claude’s on the last minute because you would need advanced reservations. He usually only accept one booking per month and you need to be at least 10 because Claude and wife, Mary Anne will be your personal hosts for the 4-hour lazy weekend lunch.

People often ask me on the direction of the place. You would have to drive all the way to Pampanga via North Expressway, exit San Fernando Pampanga, find your way to the Ayala Alabang of Angeles City– which is Villa Gloria Subdivision and find your way to Claude Tayag’s house. From the outside, Bale Dutung looks an ordinary corner lot that spans a few blocks.

As you enter, it looks like an old place full of antiques where in fact, it was built only in 1998 – 80% of which came from junk of old churches, bowling alleys, and old wood furniture. Claude and Maryann emerged from their personal room on the second floor and greets you with a smile, “Welcome to Bale Dutung!”

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Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung is the Best Kapampangan Restaurant in Pampanga. It offers authentic Kapampangan Food presented artistically like a canvas painted with food. It is not fusion at all and they make sure that they remain pure and true to Kapampangan cuisine. In fact, they are criticized for offering the ordinary day-to-day Kapampangan food at a P1,800/ head fee.

You are paying for the experience of a 4-hour slow lunch cooked by one of the country’s most respected artist and served personally by his wife like their own family guests in their home. The only other couple who does a similar experience is Sunshine Puey and Rob Pengson of Gourmandise who holds a monthly degustation dinner for P2,000/ head in their Global Academy Culinary School in Pasig.

Lets go back and meet Claude (pronounced similar to cloud) and his wife Mary Anne…

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Claude is always excited to share the story of Bale Dutung. It was inspired by the camalig which is a rice storage house in Pampanga. The house was constructed for 7 years which started when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.

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You will be touched when you see Mary Ann personally serving drinks upon your arrival. During our first visit to Claude’s, they served a cool buko juice to refresh your body and to prepare ourselves for the slow lunch.

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One of the noticeable collections in the house was the Claude’s kudkuran collection. The kudkuran was used to manually grate the coconut meat into shred.

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A serving of steamed peanuts welcomes you as you settle in the ambiance of Bale Dutung.

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Balu Dutung is cooled by natural fresh air. Instead of air-conditioning, they would often serve these frozen towels sprinkled with J&J Baby Cologne white variant. Once you put these towels on your face, you’ll remember flashes of your childhood memories ignited by the cologne.

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On our first visit, I can still remember the serving of Kapampangan sushi plate composed of sushi topped with taba ng talangka and camias, rolled mustasa leaves filled with balo balo (fermented rice) and fried hito (catfish) and mini tapsilog bites made with pindang (traditional carabeef tapa).

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Once your reservations are confirmed by Claude, they would create the menu for you. If it is your first time, you just let Claude and Mary Anne surprise you. Alternatively, you can suggest some of the food that you would like to have. I’ll share with you complete menu line up during our last visit in early November…

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The meal starts with a serving of Ensaladang Pako and Lumpiang Ubod (Fiddlehead fern salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and fried spring roll of palm heart). This is a very traditional Filipino dish and I would only eat it in Claude’s or in Ugu Bigyan’s.

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The soup is personally served by Claude and it is called Bulanglang. It is the Kapampangan’s sinigang version. The hot guava sour soup is served with huge tulang (fresh water prawns), bangus, with gabi and kangkong.

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As the first hour passes by, you began to wander around the house. One particular place of interest is Claude Tayag’s personal gallery where you can buy Claude’s paintings and other works or art.

The main dish was served at this point and you can choose between Kare Kareng Laman Dagat OR Seafood Paella. You need to specify your preference upon reservation but I would recommend the Kare Kare. My brother Lorenz, who is a self proclaimed connoisseur of Kare Kare since our childhood days, raves about Claude’s Kare Kare as the Best Kare Kare he ever tasted. The Seafood Paella is a true testament of Kapampangan cuisine where the chef made sure that the ingredients were generous and rich.

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Kare-Kareng Laman Dagat with peanuts and gata (and aligue) topped with pusit lumot (cuttle fish), tahong, and shrimps. Put some of Claude’s XO sauce and bagoong and you’ll find yourself on your third or fourth serving of this dish as almost in our group had.

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Seafood Paella topped with pusit lumot (cuttle fish), tahong, and shrimps.

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As you go around the house, you would see the pork steak grilled and only assumes a supporting role in the entire experience. It is highly recommended not to eat anything for breakfast so that you can enjoy the entire Claude Tayag lunch.

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You don’t notice the time passes you by, and you start to appreciate the things around you. One particular thing of interest were these vinegar jars where they use it to ferment vinegar naturally. You can also ask Mary Anne about how to culture you’re own vinegar.

The last course were served and make sure to reserve room for these authentic Kapampangan treats.

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Kapampangan lunch is not complete without a serving of fried hito with mustasa and balo balo (fermented rice).

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Ensaladang Talong is served specially for vegetarians in the group or those who wants to eat healthy food.

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Begucan – Binagoongang Tenga ng Baboy similar to Callos. You could also specify to serve Kapampangan sisig if you prefer.

After surviving lunch, you would go around the house and take pictures of these wooden works of art. (Thanks to Lennie for this lomo photo of ours!)

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Finally, dessert is served! Mary Anne served Claude’s White Salad composed of Macapuno, Kaong, and buco strips made by Doren Tayag.

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The late Doreen Ferandez named this dessert Paradiso which is a heavenly serving of kamote, ube, and macapuno in carabao’s milk. This is Claude Tayag’s signature dessert that you shouldn’t miss!

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Sometimes, for special moments/ occasions, Claude would invite you to their humble abode upstairs. Their house is a gallery of their personal collection of works of art from different artist.

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You can decide to purchase Claude Tayag’s book Food Tour (or bring your copy) and have him sign the book. You could also take home Claude’s Balo Balo or XO sauce to enjoy at home.

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Bale Dutung, House of Wood. (UPDATED as of 1/12/2011)
Villa Gloria Subdivision, Angeles City, Pampanga 
Mobile: +639175359198
Telephone: +632 668-4038, 502-4527
Email: mquioctayag@yahoo.com, yhannguevarra@yahoo.com
Official Website: BaleDutung.com

Menu #1: Kapangpangan Menu (P1,800/head)

Ensaladang Pakô
(Fiddle head fern salad)

Piniritong Lumpiang Ubod sa
Claude’9 Oriental Sauce

(Fried all vegetable spring roll with
lemon coriander Thai basil sauce)

Inasal na Manok at
Claude’9 Talangka Rice

(BBQ chicken wings with lemon grass
marinade and crab fat rice)

Adobong Pugo
(Quail – adobo style)

Talangka Sushi
Hito at Balo-Balo Sushi
(Sushi of crab fat and cat fish)

Tortillang Lechon
(Crispy roast pork flakes on a tortilla)

Bulanglang Kapampangan na may Tian ng Bangus,
Ulang at Tadyang ng Baboy

(Milkfish belly, spareribs, crayfish or prawn soup,
flavored with native guava)

Begucan Sisig Babi at Ensaladang Talong
(Pork cooked in shrimp paste with grilled eggplant)

Kare-kareng Laman Dagat
(Sea food cooked in peanut sauce)

(Dessert of yam, and coconut, eggyolk in water buffalo milk)

Sinaunang Kape, Tsaang Pandan
(Coffee and tea)

Menu #2: Lechon Menu (P1,800/head – highly recommended)

Ensaladang Pakô
(Fiddle head fern salad)

Piniritong Lumpiang Ubod sa
Claude’9 Oriental Sauce

(Fried all vegetable spring roll with
lemon coriander Thai basil sauce)

Inasal na Manok at
Claude’9 Talangka Rice

(BBQ chicken wings with lemon grass
marinade and crab fat rice)

Talangka Sushi
Hito at balo-balo Sushi
(Sushi of crab fat and cat fish)

Balat ng Lechon at Liver Sauce
(Crispy roast pork skin)

Lechon Tortilla
(Crispy roast pork flakes on a tortilla)

Inihaw na Tadyang na Lechon
at Ensaladang Talong

(Grilled pork ribs with eggplant salad)

Sinigang na Lechon
(Pork meat in sour soup)

 Lechon Sisig
(Pig’s cheeks with onion and liver sauce)

(Dessert of yam, coconut, egg yolk in water buffalo milk)

Kapeng Sinaunang Panahon
(coffee/ tea)

Menu #3: Anthony Bourdain Menu (P1,800/head) 

Ensaladang Pakô
(Fiddle head fern salad)

BBQ Paldeut at
Claude’9 Talangka Rice
(BBQ chicken tails with lemon grass
marinade and crab fat rice)

Adobong Pugo
(Quail – adobo style)

Hito at Balo-Balo Sushi
(Sushi of crab fat and cat fish)

Lechon Tortilla
(Crispy roast pork flakes on a tortilla)

Bulanglang Kapampangan na may
Tian ng Bangus, Ulang at Tadyang ng Baboy
(Milkfish belly, spareribs, crayfish or prawn soup,
flavored with native guava)

Sisig Babi
(Sizzling pork in onion and liver sauce)

Papaitan Soup
(Goat meat sour soup) or
Bone Collector
(Bone marrow in XO Adobo sauce)

Kare-kareng Buntot
(Oxtail stew in peanut sauce)

Tibok Tibok (dessert)
(pure carabao’s milk maja blanca)

Sinaunang Kape
(Coffee and tea)

How to get there from NLEX San Fernando Exit:



P.S. For the third time, we will go back to Claude’s as part of the Ultimate Kapampangan Show-Off Tour this coming Dec.15, 2007. I do hope you can join us…

The ULTIMATE Kapampangan Show-off!
Saturday December 15, 2007 | 7:30 am – 12:00 mn| Tour cost P4,800 (all in plus surprises)

“Well, not quite Manila but still close…. Journey to the Northern heartland as we immerse ourselves in things Kapampangan! From Baroque to Betute, its fun-filled day as we poke around and get intimate with the very best of Pampanga’s cultural offerings. We’ll gawk at the jewel-box of church in Betis while wading through the half-buried town of Bacolor. We’ll stuff ourselves silly with the best Kapampangan fare by one of the country’s best known Pampango chefs! To it cap-off, we’ll have front-row view of the most dazzling display of Kapmpangan artistry- the Parul Festival of San Fernando! A tour screming with Pampango pride!”

The Tour Experience
* Betis Church* Town of Bacolor*Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung Restaurant* Pampanga Specilaty Shops* Ligligan Parul Festival in San Fernando
This tour is brought to you by Our Awesome Planet, Ivan About Town, Manila Boy and Old Manila Walks . This will be the best Pampanga experience by people who love Pampanga!

Check out www.UltimatePhilippines.com or email reservations@ultimatephilippines.com