From Vigan to the northernmost town of Ilocos Norte, Pagudpud

From La Union, day four of this nine-day taping of “Foodprints” took us to Ilocos Sur. You want to talk about outstanding, unbelievable, pure Filipino dishes, you have to experience the northern cuisine of Ilocos. (I say pure Filipino because Ilokano food has ingredients with zero foreign influence like cream, cheese, tomato sauce, etc.)

One of the places you need to experience is Bistro Candon. Chef Nick Rodriguez takes pure Ilokano food to a whole new level. His igado, bagnet with KBL (kamatis, bagoong, and lasona/sibuyas tagalog), poqui poqui, inabraw, crispy dinuguan, and a few others are all a must-try. Each and every dish is so so delicious. Flavors are subtle and clean tasting. He also makes his own bagoong and patis. He’s that meticulous! On the way to Vigan, this has to be made a pit stop. 

Bagnet with KBL
Poqui poqui

We stayed at the Safari Hotel in Vigan where I’m sure kids will have a blast. This place is abuzz with giraffes, impalas, and deer walking around the well-preserved animal sanctuary. It is like Africa right in the heart of Vigan, a site to see. 

Crisologo Street is still as beautiful as we all remember it, slowly becoming more alive. There too are many dining places in the area. Governor Ryan Singson took the longest to open the province, making sure all safety protocols were in place. I prefer this for it makes me feel safer.

There was a new dish I had never experienced before—papaluyen. It was made with tender, melt-in-your mouth beef innards with a slight aroma of papaitan.

From Ilocos Sur, we drove up to Ilocos Norte. Passing the boarder, we showed all our health documents and we were on our way. We drove straight to San Nicolas where you will find authentic, delicious, and unusual Ilokano dishes. Dawang or Manan Aket is the most popular carinderia in Ilokos. This is where the crispy dinuguan was born. Super sarap! The oily igado is so good, the wilted pinakbet is also a winner. There was a new dish I had never experienced before—papaluyen. It was made with tender, melt-in-your mouth beef innards with a slight aroma of papaitan. I normally don’t have rice, but I finished a whole serving! Problem here is by noon, almost all the food is gone.We were almost 20 and our bill was about 1,500 pesos. Most of the dishes were 60 pesos. I wouldn’t mind paying five times more for the quality. 

Dinuguan chicaron of Dawangs
Oily Igado

That evening, we again had a most delicious Ilokano spread. Pam Aragoza is the owner of La Preciosa restaurant in Laoag City. This place is also a must-visit. Pam just opened a new open air dining place called Kubobulalohan. Here, we were served a variety of Ilokano dishes. The one I will never forget and was dreaming of until the next morning were her crispy bagnet dinuguan and her pancit lusay. The dinuguan is dry and each crispy bagnet is coated with the dry sauce. So, so good. Then there are the trimmings of the noodles called pancit lusay. There is a slight aroma of fish bagoong. Also so, so good.


The next day, we were at Seachelles having our newest discovery in Ilokandia—crispy miki! With a play of textures in the creamy rich pork broth and the crunchy noodles, this too is a must try. We also had a snack at the Batac Empanadahan. Glomy’s empanda is right beside the inventor Glory’s empanada. Glomy is the daughter of Glory. Same delicious quality. The new sauce these days with the empanada is banana catsup. Tried it but I still prefer the traditional spicy Ilokos vinegar. Yum!

Glomy’s Ilocos Empanda

Our next stop is the northernmost town of Ilocos Norte—Pagudpud! This, to me, is an undiscovered paradise of beautiful beaches and wonderful surfing waves. But that’s another story to tell, another adventure to embark on.

All is well in all these travels as long as we follow all the safety protocols. 

Happy eating!

Source: Manila Bulletin (