Hanguk Barbeque House: Sweet Gone Sour

Hanguk BBQ House

We first planned to drive with friends to Vigan for a  food trip at this Korean restaurant I saw on Facebook a few months back. Friends cancelled and the weather was not too nice, yet the mister and I proceeded. Though famished and tired from a camping trip, he wanted couple time for us. Sweet, (thanks really)!

So we found Hanguk Korean Barbecue House not too far from the city entrance. Spotted some neighbors in Laoag inside. Adding to a seeming authenticity, Korean foodstuff like ice pops, biscuits and beverages were on one corner. With steep prices (a lot steeper than here, btw, one of the most read post on this blog), I thought food must be fantastic.

Soup arrived first. Enhanced instant noodles or so it looked like.

There are professional bloggers who actually get invited for food tasting and are expected to write a feature, some lucky ones food blog as a job, and then there are those who want to buy their food for the credibility factor (but even some chefs admit that taste is subjective), while I like paying for my own exclusive experience and the freedom of writing a review. On occasion, the food turns completely lamentable, I forego sharing the entire experience ‘coz honestly it is taxing to be harsh. But then there’s more than the questionable soup, and I want to play judge in Chopped.

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We got two kinds of barbecue, pork belly and beef. The pork was okay, but I didn’t enjoy the idea that someone cuts your barbecue with a scissors in front of you. And the beef — you don’t serve any meat that’s as durable as expensive flipflops, so much so if you are a barbecue restaurant. One doesn’t even have to be an authentic chef (whether Korean or not) to be able to spot nice meat. Sorry for being graphic, but the hubby wanted me to take photos of his chewed on beef. I told the waitress twice, but she was stone deaf. While I was yapping, he was trying to keep his cool and picked up the tab. Feeling shortchanged, I initially wanted to buy ice cream cake for dessert, but totally lost the appetite for more. As we left Hanguk, the hubby was sneezing incessantly. You know he’s mad if he does that.

More than a thousand pesos for a ripoff and one and a half hours going and two and a half hours going back home amid heavy rain, and through sneeze-provoking road repairs, makangngeg ka manen, girl.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

Fonso’s pares and pigar-pigar

Fonso's

Pares is not new to me. It’s ubiquitous on the side streets of Metro Manila, but I actually discovered its makeup in Laoag (here). Pares is a Filipino word for paring or combo, so it consists of beef stew, fried rice and soup. Whoever invented it, pares has come a long way. If you are not yet acquainted with its bold flavors, you should give it a try. There’s this new carinderia, Fonso’s, situated on Paoay Road in the Northwestern University neighborhood, which serves beef pares and pares mami. Their version is very Asian, what with the distinctive star anise element and dusting of sesame seeds, giving it a bit of teriyaki-like savor. You get a good deal for just 60 pesos (pares mami is only 40 pesos).

You will also find Ilocano favorites such as hi-bol and paksiw, as well as budget meals, perfect for students and sales reps living in the vicinity. But they’ve also introduced another street food phenomenon, the pigar-pigar, a Pangasinenses dish made with carabeef, cabbage  and thick slices of onions. For those with an aversion to carabeef like me, Fonso’s uses only beef. Pigar-pigar may look simple, but it’s packed with relatable audacious flavors, ideal for rice. There’s always a first time for everything. Ate everything in the photos and ended the carinderia meal with a bottle of Sparkle.

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© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

Went North

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Back to sacred Sundays. The family drove north from Laoag — such a cozy time to converse, refresh, go crazy and just glide. The clean roads to Pagudpud were impressive as ever. Someone abroad asked me how’s home after she sent me to the south, and I told her I was sad about the numerous campaign posters from the past election season and ratty signage waving at me on the roadsides. (If you are reading, friend, here, I take it back.)

We stopped by our favorite Bergblik for snacks, then headed farther north to Blue Lagoon. Met cute little tourguides on our pseudo trek to Bantay Abot. After the rains, the scenery was nonetheless glorious.

Pagudpud14101895_1253292878014405_250318551_nJovy and Yollys Place

A new discovery on our way home was Jovy and Yolly’s Place in Davila. Had just tanguigui sashimi. Other seafood depends on the catch of the day. Nice to know there’s a wonderful roadside place to eat between Pagudpud and Laoag.

Til my next discovery.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

Hotchick on a rainy day

14031116_10155077308170130_1791362461_nHotchick Sushi Shop 2

I can count with one hand the sky was clear and sunny since I got back from transitioning seasons. Out of the mishmash of clothes and shoes I brought with me, I’m living in shorts and flipflops, just like old times, rain or shine. Ilocos is so much about laidbackness, certainly low-pressure, which makes it the best thing about this province that has a little and more than a little of everything. What else is new here? A food park at the Valdez Center in the fast-growing town of San Nicolas. In contrast to the huge mall a few meters away, the new hangout that is actually the Venvi IT park consists of individual snack and divey bars catering not only call center workers, but also anyone who shuns mainstream culture, I think — just like this homegrown sushi shop called Hotchick that makes sushi by the “bilao”, with a menu that is an unpredictable hybrid of ramen, jap chae, cucumber cooler or beer — thank God, I am able to enjoy such places when I’m with the boys.

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Hot shoyo ramen is just the best thing to order on a rainy day. Even if the egg is not the legitimate ajitsuke tamago (marinated egg), Hotchick’s version is comforting and pocket-friendly, you can have a fill everyday and won’t go broke. Also liked the jap chae, but hated the tight boat dish. Spent only P350 for the three of us. Service was slow though.

On another note, saw Eulodogs, Barney’s Burger and Moonleaf.

Still rediscovering my home province. Be back for more.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016