Sunday, June 17, 2018

Flavors of Naga: Rich Heritage Cuisine at Que Pasa

A shared history and the colonial experience continues to forge a deep bond and love for Spanish cuisine, and in Naga City, this rich culinary heritage is celebrated at Que Pasa...

From the same group behind Naga City's favorite Bigg's Diner, Que Pasa is a casual dining restaurant that brings together classic Spanish flavors fused with comforting local notes in a playfully surprising yet seamless blend. Read on for a tasty peek at heritage cuisine, rediscovered at Naga City's Que Pasa...

Our first day in Naga started early, greeted by rich local flavors (see my earlier posts, Flavors of Naga: Kinalas, Toasted Siopao, Pili Nuts and a Sleeper Bus Ride to the Queen City of Bicol, and Flavors of Naga: Welcome to Bigg's Diner Country...). That evening, even more flavors await at Que Pasa. The warm earthy tones of aged brick walls add a homey vibe to Que Pasa, tagged as Camarines Sur's first "instagrammable" dining spot. But it's the curated menu of signature dishes, combining both tradition and inventive modern reinterpretations with hints of local flavors that make Que Pasa special. 

Located right across the Naga Metropolitan Church in the Marian Pilgrimage City of Naga, Que Pasa is one more flavorful stop in this southern culinary destination. With its wide, spacious and open interiors, Que Pasa is the perfect spot for an epic feast with friends and family.

Start with Que Pasa's refreshing salads, including the inventive Ensalada de Berenjena (P 140), a unique take on ensaladang talong with crisp battered and deep-fried eggplant, fresh mangoes, tomatoes, olives and red onions drizzled with a tart vinaigrette dressing. The play on contrasting textures and flavors make this dish one of many tasty surprises at Que Pasa.

The Ensalada Verde (P 160) is another healthy option with garden-fresh and crisp Romaine lettuce, bacon, egg, Parmesan cheese, diced oranges, and olives lightly draped in a sharp vinaigrette. Fresh, clean and light flavors, it's the perfect start before the mains...

Que Pasa offers a variety of traditional Spanish Tapas, including the hearty Tortilla de Patatas (P 195), a rustic omelette with potatoes, onions and chives...

...and the Croquetas de Pollo (P 150), creamy fritters made even richer with bechamel, tender chunks of chicken and served with tart marinara dip. Other tasty tapas include Patatas Bravas (P 150), Huevos Rancheros (P 220), Calamares Fritos (P 225), Alitas De Pollo (P 250), Salpicao (P 295), and Gambas Al Ajillo (P 375).

The Pollo Asado (P 699) is a whole roasted chicken served with verduras fritas, garlic potatoes, Spanish rice, pickled vegetables, Romesco and chimichurri sauce that's perfect for sharing. Fork-tender and juicy with rich flavors, the bold notes of the Romesco and chimichurri complete the dish.

Que Pasa's menu includes local regional flavors as well, like the Pescado Al Curry (P 320), a spicy and creamy dish with local talakitok or giant trevalli simmered in a flavorful curry sauce blended with coconut milk and local chili. It's a dish that pairs well with steamed white rice, rounded out by the rich and creamy notes of the coconut milk to temper the fresh local chili.

The Costillas A La Parilla (P 380 Half-Rack/P 720 Full Rack) is Que Pasa's take on grilled pork ribs, served with rice and a choice of potato salad or mixed vegetables. Tart and mildly sweet capped by deep smoky hints perfectly complement the delicate flavors of the pork.

Enjoy your Spanish-inspired feast at Que Pasa with a glass of Sangria, or better yet, why not have some cocktails? The Adolfo El Grande (P 105) is their take on the mojito with light rum, fresh calamansi, basil and lemon soda while the Laing Congelado (P 105) infuses the spicy notes of the Bicol classic in a frozen rum-based libation.

The Concha Dura (P 140) is an adult version of a creamy banana milk shake spiked with vodka and topped with pili nuts. You can find traditional cocktails, but why not have some fun with Que Pasa's creative cocktails infused with local flavors for a unique experience in Naga City?  

If you want a change of pace, go for the Sta. Teresita (P 80), Que Pasa's own indulgent take on buko juice made thicker, richer and creamier with fresh coconut cream. Each sip lines your palate with the velvety richness of coconut cream, followed by a subtle sweetness. 

In between bites, enjoy some crunchy notes with Que Pasa's Verduras Fritas (P 150), crispy leafy vegetables battered and deep-fried to crispy perfection served with aioli and Romesco sauce.

Drawing inspiration from the local chicken binakol, the Pollo A La Pecuaria (P 350) features tender chicken and vegetables simmered in a light broth made with coconut juice and lemon grass. The inclusion of local regional flavors is unique to our colonial experience, and you can enjoy this fusion of flavors at Que Pasa.

The classic Callos (P 225), with fork-tender beef tripe, chorizo, green olives, and garbanzos stewed in a thick sauce is another must-try at Que Pasa. The richness of the stew and the sharp notes of the chorizo takes you back to carefree childhood summers, back to the days when you always looked forward to your grandmother's home cooking on summer weekends.

No Spanish feast is complete without paella, and Que Pasa's Paella Negra (P 680) with soft and fluffy rice cooked in squid ink topped with succulent shrimps and squid and drizzled with aioli is a personal favorite.

Craving for more seafood? Que Pasa's Paella De Marisco (P 720) is another one-pan dish topped with a variety of fresh seafood, red peppers and green peas that's perfect for sharing. Then, there's Que Pasa's Paella Valenciana (P 620), a familiar version with chicken, white beans and peppers is another popular favorite. Other savory mains include the Cerdo Con Chorizo (P 260), Pinchitos (P 199/P 399), Homemade Corned Beef Puchero (P 330), Caldereta (P 330), Guiso de Pescado (P 330) and Pescado Al Horno (P 330).

End your Spanish feast on a high note with Churros con Chocolate (P 95-7 pcs/P 170-12 pcs)...

...or indulge in the comfortingly familiar flavors of the local baduya, elevated at Que Pasa with their Bunuelos De Platano (P 90), banana fritters served with dark chocolate ganache and apple cinnamon sauce. Comforting and familiar flavors from a shared history, updated with modern touches infused with local notes, Que Pasa is a welcome addition to the evolving culinary landscape of Naga City.

Que Pasa is located at Barlin Street, Naga City or call 881-6134, 473-3048 and 0930-109-7554 for inquiries and reservations. You can also check their FB Page here at

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