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.)


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.


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!)


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.



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.)


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.


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

Ooma Japanese Rice Bar

SM Megamall is home to a a lot of restaurants, but Ooma Japanese Rice Bar distinctly stands out as a favorite. Whenever friends ask me where best to dine in the area, this is the first place I suggest, and each time my friends thank me for the superb dining experience.

Trust me, everything about Ooma is commendable: the food, the service, the ambience, the location and the value for money.

You can easily spot Ooma at the 3rd Floor of the new Mega Fashion Hall. There’s almost always a queue outside, but don’t be discouraged! There are comfy seats available to wait in and the ushers are very systematic, so you’ll be seated in no time.


Upon entering the dining area, you’ll notice that the decorations inside are so on point that it will transport you to Japan. I read they’re going for the Tsukiji Fish Market feel. There are little details like bottles of soy sauce on the shelves, rain boots on the floor and galvanized iron sheets on the walls. They even use yellow plastic crates for some of their seating.


When you see the menu, don’t forget to go to the page with the Hanger Steak! This dish is my favorite dish in Ooma and is honestly what keeps me coming back. It’s so good I can say you’re missing half of your life until you try it. This dish is made up of a handful of fine ingredients that includes tender slices of steak, truffle oil and ponzu butter!




The Hanger Steak goes for 495PHP which is a steal considering you get unlimited hot white rice when you dine! And I know you can only say so much about rice, but I commend Ooma for living up to being a Japanese Rice Bar and serving authentic Japanese rice in all its sticky goodness! (I hate it when Japanese restaurants serve rice you can’t even eat with chopsticks without falling all over the place. Seriously?) 


I’d say an order of Hanger Steak and unlimited servings of rice is enough for 2, but when you dine with more people, make sure to try their other dishes too! Their aburi makis are another favorite from previous visits, although this time I ordered their Chicken Teriyaki for 295PHP. At first I was disappointed of the serving size, but I was instantly consoled by how flavorful the chicken was. Still, I hope they’d toss the salad out and add a few more slices of chicken instead.


Aside from unlimited servings of rice, Ooma also takes care of you by serving complimentary tea and iced water. They’re pretty attentive at refilling them too!


Do you plan on trying Ooma anytime soon? Aside from their Megamall branch, you can also visit their new branch in Rockwell!

Ooma – SM Megamall
3/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City

Ooma – Rockwell
G/F Edades Tower, Amorsolo St cor Waterfront Drive, Rockwell, Makati City

Website: www.momentgroup.ph
Facebook: www.facebook.com/oomaph
Instagram: @ooma_ph

Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe

Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe recently opened a branch in SM Megamall. Since we were craving for something sweet and cold, we decided to try the place out and get a bingsu.

Bingsu is a Korean dessert much like halo halo or ice scramble in the Philippines. It’s a bowl of shaved ice with different toppings. We only ordered the smaller bowl of the Mango Cheese Bingsu for 195PHP since we didn’t want to ruin our appetites. (Who else eats dessert before dinner? *wink*)

The presentation was perfect and the bingsu looked divine! There was generous amount of mangoes, cheesecake cubes, whipped cream and of course, super fine ice! There was a little bit of almond slivers too, which I didn’t notice at the time probably because I was too busy digging in.




Hobing is located at the 4th floor of SM Megamall’s Mega Fashion Hall, near the bowling alleys. The place is very cozy and relaxing. There’s ample seating inside and a TV which I think was showing some K-Pop. You can also help yourself to some iced water or lemon water on the counter.




The owner was there when we visited and he was very welcoming! He even approached us to chat and asked if we wanted him to take photos of us. (We were playing with the camera and it must have looked like we were taking selfies!)

Overall, I had a good experience with Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe and I’m looking forward to trying out their other desserts! Good thing they’re now around the metro. Aside from the Megamall branch, they also have branches in BGC, Makati and Binondo. Check out their details below!

Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hobingkoreandessertcafe
Instagram: @hobingkoreandessertcafe

  Newer Entries »