Where to Eat in Ilocos: Herencia

Although almost every restaurant in Ilocos carries pinakbet pizza on their menu, it’s a fact that this famed Ilocano delicacy was originally served at Herencia Restaurant. So on our Ilocos tour after visiting the historical Paoay Church, we opted to stop for while and get lunch at this nearby restaurant to try their famous pizza.

herencia

To be honest, pinakbet is one of my least favorite viands of all time. I’m not a veggie snob in general, but I don’t really like string beans and okra, especially if there’s not much else in the dish but them. The only reason I wanted to try the pinakbet pizza (395PHP) was to level up on my Ilocano food adventure.

When the pizza came, it looked really appetizing! It was a good size too. There were 3 of us on this day including our tour guide, but one order was enough for us. We ate the pizza drizzled with some bagoong sauce and chili sauce which were readily available on our table.

herencia

herencia

So how did I find it? Well, it was good enough for me to get more than one slice, but not so much to see myself craving it again after this experience. It was worth a try, but at the end of the day, I still prefer Italian toppings on my pizza.

Looking back, I wish we could’ve gotten a sampler pizza (450PHP) instead so we could have tried one other flavor. The sampler pizza gives you a choice of 2 flavors on one pizza. Aside from the iconic pinakbet, Herencia also serves the following Ilocano pizzas: Ilocandia, chicharon, dinuguan and gamet. (Trivia: gamet is a unique seaweed product of Burgos, a municipality in Ilocos Norte.)

On this visit, I also got an order of their Special Herencia Miki (85PHP). I was disappointed on the presentation of this dish. It looked really sad when it was served. It looked oily and the bagnet and chicharon bits were all at the bottom, soggy. Maybe I’m just being a brat here, but it’s far different from a photo I saw online from another tourist. Theirs had crispy bagnet and chicharon pieces on top, and even had spring onions as garnish. Oh well, we did come at lunch hour so the kitchen was probably busy. Presentation aside, I found the broth of this dish very rich and flavorful! The noodles were a bit hard for my taste, but still enjoyable.

herencia

I would still recommend visiting this place if you want to try out Ilocos’ pinakbet pizza. Nothing beats being a part of history and enjoying the famed dish at nowhere else but its birthplace!

Herencia Restaurant
Location: Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines (right across Paoay Church)

Where to Eat in Ilocos: La Preciosa

Second on my food itinerary in a recent trip to Ilocos was La Preciosa. I have heard and read a lot of rave reviews about this place while I was planning the trip, so there was no way I was going up to pass up on the chance of tasting their food. We decided to have dinner here on our first night in Laoag. Since it was a Wednesday then and we were in a province and all, we were worried they might close early. We called to check until what time they’d be open, and were relieved when they said they’d be open until 11PM and can take orders until 9:30PM.

lapreciosa

We took a short tricycle ride to get to the restaurant. We arrived at around 9PM but were surprised that there were still a lot of customers inside. The place was still very clean and well-lit considering it was already quite late.

lapreciosa

When we saw the menu, we were pleasantly surprised at the prices! La Preciosa is considered a fine dining restaurant, but their prices are not expensive at all! Almost everything was below 200PHP, with Crispy Pata being the most expensive at 500PHP. We decided on ordering a couple of their “Ilocano Favorites”: the puqui-puqui (165PHP) and the dinardaraan (195PHP).

Puqui-puqui is the famous (or should I say “infamous” because of the controversy around the name and spelling lol) Ilocano dish of eggplants, eggs, onions and tomatoes. I have never had it before but based on what I had at La Preciosa, I like it! If tortang talong and sarciado married and had a baby, this would be it!

lapreciosa

Dinardaraan, on the other hand, is the Ilocano version of dinuguan. I almost never eat dinuguan if it’s not homecooked, but because of my fear of missing out (haha), I made an exception for this dish. Thankfully I did because I loved it! Unlike the dinuguan I’m used to, La Preciosa’s version has crispy pieces of meat. It’s like eating dinuguang chicharon or dinuguang bagnet if you will. This dish is so indulgent I might have made a mental note to include it in my next confession.

lapreciosa

Now for dessert aka the star of the night! We got La Preciosa’s bestseller cake: the carrot cake (100PHP)! I’m telling you, this is a slice of heaven! I don’t care if you don’t eat carrots or even cake, please do yourself a favor and try this. The cake is moist and light, the frosting has just the right amount of sweetness, and the generous carrot shavings on top give every bite a slightly crunchier texture. If only cakes were easy to transport and travel with, I would have bought boxes of this cake for pasalubong. (Who am I kidding? I’ll reserve one for myself, of course.)

lapreciosa

lapreciosa

I only wish they also had more variety of drinks to choose from. We only got coke in cans with our meal because we couldn’t find a special Ilocano refreshment on the menu.

Needless to say, I enjoyed trying out authentic Ilocano dishes here at La Preciosa! I was so satisfied with our dining experience that on my way out, I took a photo of who I assume is Preciosa so I can pay my respects. Thank you, Preciosa, for a wonderful first dinner in Ilocos!

lapreciosa

La Preciosa Fine Dining & Catering Services
Location: J.P. Rizal Street, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Website: http://lapreciosailocos.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaPreciosaIlocos

Where to Eat in Ilocos: Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant

Ilocos is home to a number of interesting native dishes, so in a recent trip to this province, I came armed with a food itinerary to try them all. First on my list of restaurants to visit is Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant. It was conveniently located in the city of Laoag near the airport and our hotel, so it was very easy and quick to get to. We just hailed a tricycle and asked to be taken to Saramsam along P. Gomez and we were there in more or less 5 minutes. (In case the driver doesn’t know where “Saramsam” is, ask to be taken to “Balay da Blas” instead. It’s the pension house where Saramsam is.)

saramsam

The interior of the place is very homey and fancy at the same time. It feels like you’re dining in your grandparents’ home, but the decorative touches like the table runners and the folded napkins make it seem like a special family gathering, not just an everyday salu-salo.

saramsam

For our mains, we ordered Bagnet with KBL (245PHP) and their original Saramsam Pasta (160PHP). Everything on the menu was really appetizing and affordable. We wanted to order more, but since there were only 2 of us, we decided to pace ourselves and just try the other dishes on our next meals.

The bagnet in Saramsam is so sinfully good! I have tried bagnet before, and one other time in this trip, but Saramsam’s version is the best by a long shot! The skin on these pork slices are so crunchy, they’re literally chicharon. The meat portion is very flavorful and juicy too. An order of bagnet comes with a side of KBL which is short for Kamatis, Bagoong and Lasona (sibuyas). Apparently, KBL is the Ilocano go-to sawsawan for fried dishes, especially bagnet. (And rightfully so, because we also finished our KBL down to the last slice of kamatis. It goes so unbelievably well with bagnet!)

saramsam

Thankfully, our other order is more on the healthier side to balance out our meal. The Saramsam Pasta boasts an odd mix of ingredients: spaghetti, shrimps, cilantro, green and red peppers, tomatoes, onions, green and ripe mango slices, olive oil and parmesan cheese. The waiter who served us said the pasta is meant to be eaten with the chili oil and bagoong sauce on the table, so we mixed those in before taking a bite. The combination of flavors surprisingly works! I especially loved the taste the ripe mangoes brought to the dish! An order of Saramsam Pasta comes with a couple slices of buttered bread, but to be honest the bread is nothing special. I just skipped on the bread to save some calories for dessert.

saramsam

saramsam

As for refreshments, we ordered a couple of drinks with an Ilocano twist! We got a glass each of their Baraniw Iced Tea (45PHP) and Salamagui Juice (50PHP). I enjoyed both of them, but I found the Baraniw Iced Tea more refreshing than the other. (Trivia: Baraniw is wild basil, while Salamagui is tamarind.)

saramsam

To cap off our meal we originally wanted to try Saramsam’s famous Kalti, an Ilocano take on a fondue. But since that dessert is good for 3 and we were so stuffed, we opted for the Malunggay Sherbet (49PHP) instead. Sadly, this is the one thing we ordered that we did not enjoy! Instead of a “sherbet”, we were served a frozen solid ice of malunggay in the shape of a hockey puck. We kept stabbing it with our forks, but it wouldn’t budge. Although we still enjoyed the little pieces of ice we managed to chip off, I will not recommend this dessert to anyone.

saramsam

Overall, we definitely enjoyed our first meal in Ilocos here at Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant! The staff are welcoming, the service good, the place homey and the food great and very reasonably priced! We came out with happy tummies, and only a tiny dent in our wallets.

Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant
Location: #10 Giron St. Brgy. 7-B Laoag City Ilocos Norte