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

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