Lunch at La Preciosa Restaurant (Ilocos Norte)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

HOOORAAYY FOR OUR SECOND LOCAL TRIP IN LIKE EVER! Weelll Ilocos isn't really the second Pinoy location I've visited aside from Manila, but more of I don't really consider the Tagaytay and Subic area as a legit adventure for peeps coming from Manila... The last time we went on an adventure was when we went to Cebu and Bohol in 2005, and the rest of my trips have been international. 

The moment we got to Laoag, the first place we were brought to was La Preciosa restaurant. Founded by Madame Preciosa and now managed by her family, mainly her daughter Pammy, it's by far what people claim is the best place to go for Ilocos food. We were brought to several other places in Ilocos to eat, and I think I can agree that as far as Iloko food go, this is the place to hang out in. 

Since this is our first Iloko meal, we decided to pig out and order lots of oily foods we normally wouldn't order in one sitting. 

The first thing that made me feel that I was in Laoag was the generally lower prices. I have no idea where in Manila I will go for food of this equity at this kind of price level.

The menu has a lot of pages, but I decided to take a photo of the Ilokano dishes page for those who are planning to pig out. It's not in this page and not in this post, but in a second visit we tried their sisig and it was the bomb so before you browse the Ilokano pages you might want to get their sisig, too.

The restaurant has a lovely interior, and the vibe is like a traditional olden Filipino house converted to a restaurant. 

This is the lovely area outside the dining area in the second floor. This is probably for smokers, or probably for the folks who would like to experience windy Ilocos nights. 

Funnily, when we arrived they still had their Christmas decorations up. And right after I took these photos, they took the decorations down. I'm not sure if they just waited for me to take photos, or if they were ashamed to still have Christmas decor in January hahaha. 

And on the right this is a photo of the late Madame Preciosa. 

On the wall are other frames containing newspaper and magazine clippings featuring them. The most amusing is the certificate of sorts they got from Pope Benedict XI. Does Pope Francis give these out, too? If so, I'll probably be the first in line hahaha. 

There are a lot of restaurants in the region serving up Ilokano food, but probably one of the competitive advantages of La Preciosa is that they are known for their cakes. They're known for having the best carrot cake in the North, and generally they have a roster of cakes to satisfy all the sweet tooths they will welcome in their place. 

Since we were here to marvel at their carrot cake, I just took photos of their red velvet cake. But it looks sooooo delicious. 

This is how popular their carrot cakes are that they have a whole fridge devoted for them. I want to talk about the cake further, so I'll be making another post about it. 

Aside from their cakes, they also have some snacks in the store/ Since a lot of people make this their last stop to buy carrot cakes to take home, they also made things more convenient by also selling cornicks, peanuts, rice coffee, wines, native sweeteners, camote chips and butterscotch bars and tarts. 

On our first meal, we ordered a lot of uniquely Ilokano dishes. We got ourselves longganisa (For the foreign readers, this is our version of sausage. For local readers, I never knew that longganisa could actually be this special). We also got Bagnet (which we honestly feel is just lechon kawali dressed with another image). The unique thing we ordered is Poqui-poqui, a dish with grilled eggplants accompanied by a very eggy sauce and tomatoes to go with it. 

Their bagnet is really, really good, just as expected. Well, of course, fried pig is always good, but they do it well. There's just enough meat and fat. We were not a fan of the sauce though, as it had their bagoong. 

The longganisa, if I remember correctly, is garlicky and all. Yes, it's quite hard to recall because before I visited Ilocos, I thought that all longganisa have the same taste. It was when I got there did I realize that every town prides in having their own version of longganisa, and pride in all the modifications and flavors they do to it. But well I remember that all of them were tasty and flavorful, so I can say that this also tasted good, too. 

The dish we wanted to emulate the most from the lunch was the poqui poqui because for one, we really love eggplant. And, as far as renditions go, they had the best poqui poqui we had in the whole trip. I think we were also given a fresh perspective on eggplants because we were used to having fried eggplant, eggplant parmigiana, and eggplants in soups that it's nice to know that there's another thing we can do to eggplants.  

One of the things that intrigued us was their crunchy dinuguan. The dish is quite different from the gamey and chewy dinuguan we're used to in Manila, and instead has bagnet pieces luxuriously bathing in a betamax stew. This is more sour than the ones I'm used to in Manila. This is really good, because of course, fried pig, but other than that, the sauce is rich and the overall sourness of the sauce and the oiliness of the pig match well. 

We ordered their sinigang. I think this is just a vegetable sinigang as I don't remember eating meat in this. This is probably one of their weaker dishes as the taste is very bland for sinigang. It's not that it's not that sour, but more of it lacks the flavor and aroma and punch that one looks for in a sinigang dish. 

One of the other things we ordered was their ensalada. We ate the least from this bowl because we were culture shocked with the taste of their bagoong. It's not the tasty, salty, brimming-with-umami bagoong I'm used to in Manila, and instead is very very fishy and bitter in taste. But other than that, the vegetables they have are supposedly super fresh. 

Overall, I could say that we had a lovely meal here, and it was a good introduction to Ilokano cuisine. We ate here right before we left Ilocos, and if I get the chance to go back to Ilocos someday, this is one of the places that I will have in my bucket list.

You can visit their Facebook page for contact information, and directions on how to get there. It's not too far from the airport because it took us about half an hour by car to get from Laoag airport to come here.

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