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

kristinas-carinderia-1

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.

presko

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

My typical case of usyus-ism (Choy Lin Fried Station)

Choy Lin Fried Station.jpg

While I was enjoying pampering at The Nail Lounge yesterday (btw, they have a new location along Bacarra Rd./Gen Segundo Ave. cor. Provincial Hospital Rd.), noticed a recurring scene through the glass wall. Thought it was a dim sum stall, but it turns out Choy Lin is a fried food station for the audacious eater. Caught familiar faces picking up something from the store. Had to research furthermore and I got positive feedback. So for dinner, I went personally to buy crispy ulo, crispy pata and fried itik (duck). Lynne, our cook uttered while eating, “Scary.” (Hahah!) she meant all the cholesterol. We all had lemon-infused water, green tea, coffee, and yakon afterwards.

crispy-ulochoy-lin

Everything was seasoned and fried beautifully. There’s just one thing I noticed, whether duck or pork, the taste was the same. The dipping sauce was on the sweet side, so we had to enhance it with chili pepper and more soy sauce. I guess if you have to buy something from Choy Lin, start with just one. I recommend crispy ulo (pork head). They also have lechon kawali, sisig, and fried chicken.

Originating in Vigan, Choy Lin has a branch in Abra too. Prices are affordable.

Best with KBL (kamatis, bugguong and lasona).

© 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.

13962511_10157300539340029_5684537176296049233_n

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

Filling up at The Gas(tro) Station

The Gastro Station

Just how one new food spot in Laoag could awaken memories of home in the last 12 months. At the zenith of rice bowls, I find it wonderful that LA celebrity chef Roi Choi has Filipino chicken adobo alongside kimchi spam bowl on his Chego menu, while Laoag’s prominent son, Jeff Fariñas (refreshing to know he set aside his political career to jack up a love for food and cooking), cooks Korean bibimbap along with pares and his other favorite comfort food at The Gas(tro) Station, which replaces their old gas station on busy General Luna corner Villanueva Streets.

the gastro station bibimbappepper rice

Chanced upon owners Jeff and Charisma who made me try the gastro wraps, inspired by a dish by David Chang of Momofuku fame. Well, found it an affordable rendition of Red 8’s Peking duck skin rolls. Jeff used pork to match the same hoisin sauce, and added a kick of sriracha. My baby Alexandra liked it and she loved her pepper rice and she is so finicky with food.

The big rice eater might not be gratified with just one bowl of bibimbap. It’s an intention to present it as a healthy option. To date bibimbap is their bestseller.

Charisma says it was Jeff who developed all the dishes and keeps on whipping up more like cheesesteak  sandwich while she takes care of the business side.

gastro wrap

I like the easy feel of the place. With upcycled interiors and pretenseless furniture, the food stands out. I think it’s a current global trend — commissaries, counter-service, communal seating, eclecticism and modern food.

If gassing up means this good, then make mine full tank again and again.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016