Saturday, August 6, 2011

Magpasarap Ka Muna!

Halo Halo de Iloko
164 P. Burgos Street, Tanqui
City of San Fernando, La Union
+63 (72)700-2030
28 October 2010

Halo Halo de Iloko

Ria and I only had four days for this trip, so the next morning, we already set up to visit some places in La Union. I planned this day to be our "Visita Iglesia" day, and I took her to the churches of Luna and Balaoan first. For lunch, I told her we would just eat at a food place in San Fernando, because this being the capital city of the province, there were more food places here than any other towns/municipalities in La Union.

One food place that caught my attention was "Halo Halo de Iloko," but in the many times I vacationed in La Union, I still haven't eaten there yet. My brother told me it's because the restaurant can't be seen right away from the highway or the plaza. Asking him for directions, Ria and I went to "hunt" it.

Halo Halo de Iloko

Halo Halo de Iloko

It was one hot, sunny day, and we walked two blocks from the highway to reach the restaurant, but tired as we were, we were so pleased when we entered the restaurant. It sure looked simple outside, but inside was a different view (another proof that one should not judge the book by its cover).

I don't know much about this restaurant, and thankful for Facebook, I was able to send a message to its owner, Xavier Mercado. Instead of collecting all his responses and form it into a paragraph, I will just paste how he answered my questions.

Why did you name the place Halo Halo de Iloko? When did it start?
> It started last April 18, 2004. They always ask me this question.. hehehe, but truth to tell, there are lot of names out there that are better. Halo Halo de Iloko is simply “Ilocano” I cannot define Halo Halo de iloko in one sentence, I just can’t, I can only use the words, “La Union’s best!” and “magpasarap ka muna”. La Union does not have that much to offer when it comes to food, though, we Ilocanos has the same taste when it comes to the authenticity of foods. Ilocanos just loved salty, bitter, sour and sweet foods. I just said it, Sweet foods. Ilocanos just love to eat, and when they do, their meal is never complete without a dessert. This fondness of Ilocanos for things sweet has led me to put up my business. When you hear the word Halo Halo, people will crave of this smashing iced crushed dessert filled with cooked fruits and milk. From the word “mix-mix”, the popularity of this dessert brings more happiness during the molten season of summer. And take note, almost all of my ingredients, came from La Union!!! that's why it's La Union's best, 'coz ang sarap ng La Union ay nasa baso na! By the way, Halo Halo de Iloko originated from the famous "MUSEO DE ILOKO" of Agoo, the word "de iloko" just came there!

While vacationing in La Union last March, my cousin told me the place was called Halo Halo de Iloko because you plan to have a branch in every town/municipality of La Union. Is this true?
> Not actually every town, but one branch in every district of La Union, We have to districts in La Union, District 1 going North, and District 2 going South.

Any plans for the future?
> Plans? i'll just enjoy what I have right now, try to experiment some ilocano foods, and offer it to my fellow ilocanos, Filipinos and people out there who just love to eat! I want to expand someday, to share how Halo Halo de Iloko will satisfy your stomach!

Satisfy your stomach, he said? Well yes. Ria and I really had an awesome lunch that time and we were fully satisfied. We had:

Iloko Sisig

Ilokos Sisig. Ria's choice. It was very rich, and it was straight to the point. It doesn't have to use other ingredients (like egg or chicharon) to "cover" up the actual sisig, so this we really appreciated. Although it somehow looked the same as other sisig, there really was a difference in the taste.


Beef Pinapaitan. My choice. I want to eat "authentic" Ilokano dish, and while this dish was bitter (of course, it is not pinapaitan if it isn't), the bitterness wasn't really overpowering. I liked that it had more beef cuts than the internal parts of the cow, and I am thankful it wasn't downright oily. In some restaurants, they serve this in a warming dish because it tends to get ma-sebo right away, but this doesn't need any warming whatsoever because even if it is oily, it wasn't too oily. The ginger, leeks, and spring onions also helped in cutting the umay flavor of the dish, and I enjoyed eating this.

Sago't Gulaman

Sago't Gulaman. We went for the sago't gulaman as our drinks, and compared to the normal sago't gulaman, I find this more tasty because it was infused with pandan.


Okoy Tikyosko. This shouldn't be part of our meal, but while we were thinking of another dish we could share, we saw this part of the menu about the okoy. Ria and I were talking that we will be traveling to Vigan anyway, so we could just eat our okoy there, but the server asked us to try it because it's different than the ones served in Vigan. For one, their okoy original had squash, and tikyosko had squash, malunggay, and homemade longganisa. While we recognize that it is really different, the server also said, "Vigan is Vigan, La Union is La Union." Very witty of a server he was, really, and with that, we ordered the okoy. It was indeed delicious, and made healthier, too... what a way of adding malunggay and squash into the dish! Bravo!

Fiesta Halo Halo Fiesta Halo Halo

Fiesta Halo-Halo. Of course, eating a place called "Halo Halo de Iloko," it was just right that we try their halo halo, too. At p85 per glass, we were thinking it will be like the typical halo halo glasses, so we ordered a glass each, but when it was served, we were surprised at how big it was. Halo halo may be the Philippines' national dessert, but even if most halo halo uses similar ingredients, I am very pleased at how diverse this dessert is. This glass of halo halo had the typical ingredients, but one major difference is the sweetened ground rice (please correct me if I am wrong, for I really believe it is ground rice - like the ones being used in making tupig). It made the dessert heavy, but it was a good ingredient.

Feeling bloated at the foods we ate (their foods aren't expensive, too), Ria and I happily walked back to the plaza to continue our church hopping.

This food trip happened at their branch located at P. Burgos Street. However, in Xavier's message to me, he said the restaurant is changing locations soon, and the new restaurant will be at #12 Zandueta Street. I don't know exactly where that is, so if you're in La Union and want to dine here, you can give them a call at 0919-3883145 or 0917-8527919 to ask for directions on how to get there.


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Jenn, the Foodie

I come from a family who loves cooking and eating. I never had any formal training in cooking and that I taught myself how to cook based on the handed down recipes, but I could say that I can cook good food. In 2008, I started documenting my food trips for my travel blog, and since I have quite enough to start a food blog, might as well put all those food trips in one location. Thus, a food blog is born - thanks to the new Friendster Blogs. However, due to several problems, I was left with no choice but to pack bags again and move here instead. Here's the permanent address, promise! Enough talk, let the food trippin' begin! {Know More About Me}