Nueva Ecija eats: Isdaan Floating Restaurant is a foodie theme park

Jeng del Rosario

Posted at Jun 28 2017 11:05 AM | Updated as of Jun 28 2017 11:07 AM

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Isdaan is set up like a fishing village. Photo by author

Isdaan Floating Restaurant recently opened its third branch in Talavera, Nueva Ecija. Bigger, better, and up-to-date, this dining joint makes sure that it has everything for everyone. 

Isdaan serves delicious homey Filipino food amid a welcoming ambiance perfect for family and friends. There’s no entrance fee nor additional charges to go around the park.. 

As you enter, you are greeted by huge and meticulously designed sculptures that are a mix of Asian influences. There are some mystic animals like the dragon turtle, a sitting white elephant, and mermaids holding fish turned fountains. 

There are even sleeping security guards and other fun-looking statues all around the park perfect for a selfie or two. 

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Guests can feed the fish. Photo by author

There’s a long bridge that patrons could waddle onto to feed the fish. They could also watch some live entertainment on stage nightly. And if you dare, you could cross a long narrow cement bridge to get a kilogram of free fish. 

Of course, the “tacsiyapo” wall is one of the features Isdaan is known for. You are able to throw mugs, plates, bowls, and even a television set on a specific part of the wall while shouting “tacsiyapo,” which loosely translates to “bwiset ka” or “darn you.” This is a great stress reliever for many. 

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The “tacsiyapo” wall is a popular feature at Isdaan. Photo by author

As for dining, guests have a number of options. They could have their feast under the shade of trees at the back, in an open-air covered building or — the favorite option — small huts floating on the man-made fish pond. 

According to founder and owner Rod Ongpauco, he wanted to bring his brand of Filipino food outside the capital. Since there has been an influx of both local and foreign restaurants in Manila, he thought of investing and creating something unique outside of the metro. 

By combining his different establishments like Barrio Fiesta, Bakahan at Manukan, and The Singing Cooks & Waiters, Atbp under one huge complex, he is able to create a restaurant for everyone.

Here’s what you should order:

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One could start of with the artery-clogging Chicharon Bulaklak. You will definitely have a fun time dipping this deep-fried pig mesentery in vinegar sauce. Each bite creates that crunchy sound and would result in a happier tummy.

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The Sinabawang Bulalo sa Sariwang Kamatis is a different take on the traditional kneecap dish. With flavors coming from the fresh tomato, the bulalo is transformed into a remarkable soup version.

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The Pinukpok na Hipon is a dish served in a bamboo case. Cooked with gata or coconut milk, the sweetness is brought out and is absorbed by the shrimp.

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For indecisive big groups, Isdaan has huge platters that could cater to the wants and needs of everyone.

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It also has “Boat Specials” like the Calamares. Coated with batter, the squid goes perfectly well with the sauce and the sauteed vegetables on the side.

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Another sizzling dish that is not to be missed would be Isdaan’s version of the Sisig. Prepared tableside, a mixture of pig parts are placed on the hot metal plate and is given the royal treatment. Fresh egg is scooped into the mix. The result is a dish that gives off a bit of a bite. Perfect to go with an ice cold beer.

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But Isdaan’s specialty is the Chicken Tinupig. The meat is marinated overnight in coconut juice and is cooked in leaves resulting in a tender and aromatic dish.

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Considered as the long lost brother of the crispy pata, the Patang Tinupig was developed by Ongpauco himself. Previewed to the public just a couple of weeks back, the Pata is roasted in banana leaves and cooked in its own juices. Each bite would result in a soft and easy to chew texture. Definitely a must-order.

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Read other food articles in the author’s blog, Food in the Bag.