Saté, new and the only Indonesian restaurant in Ilocos Norte

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Last night we were brought to Indonesia via Saté, an authentic, I repeat, a real deal Indonesian restaurant that opened in San Nicolas just a few days ago. Of course, nasi goreng and sate (satay) ring a bell, but on my latest gustatory adventure, my taste buds were treated to a higher level — a full course dinner prepared by Indonesian Chef Robby Satiawan, a former executive chef at Banyan Tree in Macau, who has also worked in other parts of the globe like Maldives, and Qatar, where he met his Filipina wife, Marie. Looks like they are loving their new home, as I feel the excitement radiating from them.

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How we found ourselves at Saté was by accident, utter serendipity, as my besties Marla and Louie and I planned to go to another resto, then we changed our minds in the car ‘coz someone said there’s a new Indian or Hindustani resto in the next town, then we were thinking yogurt-based, masala and so on, and then I realized Brandon told me about an Indonesian restaurant he saw last week, but couldn’t remember the exact location (he said he went to so many places that day, if that’s not premature Alzheimer’s).

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The diverse menu says a description of every dish, so ordering is easy. Found Ilocano gado (gado-gado/salad), but desired all traditional. We started with brief dishes (a la banchan) of veggie appetizers. Our fave was the pickled Ilocos ampalaya (bittermelon). By the way, Chef Robby buys everything from the tiendaan (public market). Another appetizer, perkedel, a fried corn dumpling that reminded me of our very own squash okoy, when topped with the shallot-sambal condiment (something like a spicy atchara), made beautiful contrast.

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I love unusual drinks, so hot bandrek, a black pepper pandan drink with coconut bits, traditional in Indonesia the chef said, was surprisingly refreshing. Imagine a spiced sago at gulaman (the liquid).

Chicken sate and kukus (steamed chicken marinated in chili and sambal) went great with coconut rice. If you’re a chicken lover or on a diet, I highly recommend kukus, easily our favorite. Isi tahu (stuffed tofu) was also light and lovely.

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The langka (jackfruit) sweet course on the menu was not available, but my discontent vanished as soon as we scooped out the flavors of the two other desserts. Penyet, grilled bananas with toasted coconut flakes and cubed jelly (with the texture of Turkish delight) sent me to cloud nine. A West Javanese treat, sarang burung, which means bird’s nest, but had pseudo bird’s nest (agar-agar) has Chinese influence. I remember to have tasted a cold sweetened bird’s nest soup back in the days when I was eco-ignorant.

Chef Robby’s cooking has fantastic balance, nothing overly seasoned nor cloying, aromatic yet delicate. And spiciness was tempered as he is still in the process of feeling the local palate. But I’m sure you can request your level of hotness.

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Had to have a photo with my FB friend Trixie Ablan, who is apprenticing with the Indonesian chef.

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Ending this post with a message to Chef Robbie and Marie, naragsak a isasangbay idtoy Ilocos!

Sate Modern Indonesian Dining
NationaL Highway, Barangay 1-San Francisco, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

The 0ne-hundred-peso lunch for two at Kristina’s Carinderia

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Was actually billed 101 pesos, but made tawar (haggled) the 1 peso. And a plate of rice was included.

Kristina’s Carinderia (facing the Jehovah’s Witnesses church on the western portion of Rizal St., and near the Iglesia ni Kristo) was Brandon’s find. Local senior citizens, families, office employees and policemen were fixed on their food when we arrived. You enter through a kitchen, (neat, btw) and point at your chosen items from among a see-through cabinet of noticeably freshly prepared viands.

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Presko a baka (raw beef), also known as kilawen here, flavored with light papaitan, was delicious. The subtle use of seasonings such as sukang Iloko, salt, etc., let out the natural flavors of the main ingredients, like dinardaran was not overly sour, but rather naturally came out with that hint of sweetness (from the pig’s blood), and the katuday (katuray/corkwood flowers) salad was not too vinegary nor salty. I’m not sure, but I didn’t detect any use of MSG.

Yes, satisfying Ilocano food this cheap still exists.

Kristina’s Carinderia
Rizal St., Laoag City

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

Weekend Foodtrippin’

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.Eating is one thing the family loves to do together.

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Nothing like Tayamen’s isaw!

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The only pizza that we mutually love — Saramsam’s longaniza pizza!

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Rufino’s for desserts. Life is sweeter when shared with people you love.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

Hotchick on a rainy day

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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