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

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

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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

Cefi & Me opens at Paseo de Paoay

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Sunny, effervescent, refreshing — those three words enter my mind as soon as I step into Cefi & Me. The baker in Toni Carag has been unleashed and baby Cefi, the frosting to her cupcake, appears to be getting a thrill from the whirling scent of confections inside the patisserie.

Cefi & Me is situated at the corner of pristine Paseo de Paoay close by the painfully beautiful Paoay Church. (I live in Ilocos, but it feels like I am in a different world whenever I catch a glimpse of the church’s striking architecture.)

Cefi & Me 4Cefi & Me 14Cefi & Me 24Kristine Manuel and Kit Mandac had the honors to cut the ribbon.

Cefi and Me 22Cefi & Me 8Cefi & Me 9Cefi and Me 23Cefi & Me 16Cefi & Me 19Cefi & Me 11Cefi & Me CupcakesCefi & Me 10Reishan Paredes and Joanna Jimenez light up the room.

GyrosCefi & Me 13Cefi & Me 15Cefi & Me 12Cefi & Me 26How time flies, Toni and her cousin Tina’s babies! Our godson, MJ (in black), is all grown up. But I love it that Toni always calls me “manang”. The other baby in the photo below is Cooper, the cute son of Carlos and Janina Fariñas. Hihih, and Nerisa might just have given birth.

Cefi & Me 6Cefi & Me 2Cefi & Me 20I made sure I had a photo with photographer Glenn Tumaneng because he had to take my photo (at the bottom of the post). Of course, you shouldn’t believe me ‘coz the vibes of the afternoon was cheery.

Cefi & Me 21Cefi & Me 18Cefi & Me 17Cefi & Me 3Cefi & Me 1Radiant Kristine Manuel. I saw the light and I had to pressure her for this photo.

Cefi & Me Menu

Check out the interesting menu. We had gyros, penne, fresh dragonfruit and I bought cheese cupcakes. Yum! If I were not too full, I would have ordered kesong puti bun d’ sal.

I want to congratulate and wish Toni all the best in her new endeavor.

Other photos by Kit, Glenn T and Joanna
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014