Saté, new and the only Indonesian restaurant in Ilocos Norte

sate-laoag

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

Nana Melody’s Oriental Kitchenette: Celebrating Pancit

Chami

Gone are the names such as New Life, Golden City, Golden Star, Southeast Asia, but the legacy of Sy Kau Teng lives on.  The late Kau Teng was a native of China who came to the Philippines to work as a cook at the People’s Lumber, met and married Felicidad Guevarra, an Ilocano, and set up his own Oriental Restaurant in downtown Laoag decades ago. Melody Co is one of the two children of Kau Teng who inherited their father’s cooking expertise and moved on to establish panciterias of their own.

To this day and age, no other restaurant in Ilocos can ever come close to Oriental Kitchenette’s lomi, chami, and kimlo. The recipes have been tweaked a little to suit the modern palate, like I couldn’t find anymore the authentic homemade kikiam and camaron, and innards, yet still basically the same legit Chinese style that keeps patrons go back again and again. The addition of ground pork rind (from traditional Ilocos chicharon aka bagnet) is the cherry on top in the enhanced or hybrid recipes. The chami I had was moist and piping hot, the noodles were chewy, the veggies obviously fresh and the toppings, plenteous.

Nana Melody's Oriental Kitchenette

Nana Melody’s Oriental Kitchenette in Laoag just moved to a new address on the corner of Gen. Luna and Zulueta Streets.

Nana Melody

– Nana Melody and her daughter Asuncion or Maan, who cooks just as well.

New Oriental Kitchenette

Besides old-time noodle favorites, habitues go to the Oriental Kitchenette for their super budget meals. At 30 pesos, one can have rice plus two viands (one meat and one vegetable) of their choice from the daily turo-turo counter.

Lomi

– Ilocos Norte mayors frequent the restaurant to chat while eating lomi, their bestseller.

Long Live Pancit! Long Live Oriental!

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013