Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Poqui-poqui Face-Off: Saramsam and Preciosa

During my visit to Laoag City, I had the fortune of eating at two premier restaurants, Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant and Bar and La Preciosa. Saramasam means an informal gathering, or pica-pica, and is quite the iconoclast, serving traditional regional dishes in different ways, such as the dinuguan (blood stew) pizza. La Preciosa Restaurant is more traditional, and is the favorite restaurant in the city per the website Tripadvisor.

Poqui-poqui may be named unfortunately (it's a Tagalog vulgar term for vagina), but it sure tastes heavenly. It's basically eggplants, eggs, onions, and tomatoes. The first time I tried it it was vaguely familiar, until I remembered how my father  was so fond of a version that uses no eggplant at all. It dawned of me I've been eating a variant since childhood.

Saramsam's version uses smoky eggplant, and this reminded me of the home-style goodness of meals cooked in wood of my childhood. 

La Preciosa's is saucier, and the onions used were so fresh they were sweetish. Of the two versions I'm partial to the latter. Forgive the unfortunate picture composition, but La Preciosa's is the tastier dish.

Ilocos Norte's Saramsam Restaurant for Bagnet

Bagnet with KBL (kamatis, bagoong, lasona). Bagnet is a staple in Ilocano cuisine, so be sure to sample it when traveling north of the country. These are pork chunks that are boiled, air-dried, and deep-fried. 

Bagnet appears to me as hefty chicharon, and I prefer it, along with my lechon, with fermented fish sauce, tomatoes, and native onions, as pictured above. Lasona is a potent onion variant. It is a favorite of my grandfather, and when he was alive he'd usually have it as relish, or the main dish.

Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant and Bar
Laoag City
(+63) 77 771 5825

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ilocos Norte's La Preciosa for Crispy Dinuguan (Blood Stew) and Kilawin na Tanigue (Mackerel Ceviche)

No trip to Laoag is complete without going to La Preciosa Restaurant. A quick look at Tripadvisor yields the  factoid that it is ranked #1 among 22 restaurants in the city. If you're after a sampling of Iloko cuisine, such as higado, poqui-poqui, pakbet, and bagnet, go no further. I came for the crispy dinuguan. I left charmed by the kinilaw na tanigue as well. 

A quick note: dinuguan is a stew of meat and/or offal cooked in pork blood, garlic, green chilis, and vinegar.

the fried pork makes this dinuguan extraordinary. i love the crunch and the thick sauce

mackerel ceviche. the use of vinegar was just right, allowing the
creamy goodness of the fish to shine though
La Preciosa Restaurant
JP Rizal Laoag City
(+63) 77 773 1162