Other than actually going to a place, the best way to experience its culture is through its cuisine. Ilocano cuisine is influenced by the region’s major occupations: agriculture and fishing. Thus, its dishes are simple to prepare, down-to-earth, and uses fresh ingredients.
Considering how long I’ve been working in the Tomas Morato area, it’s a wonder I’ve only been able to dine at Victorino’s just now. Luckily, together with two of my closest office friends, we ventured out to have a taste of Ilocos Sur at this resto.
Located at the corner of 11th Jamboree and Scout Rallos in Quezon City, Victorino’s is a sprawling house converted to a restaurant, with interiors designed to look like a traditional home in Ilocos, complete with old-style aparadors and various bric-a-bracs.
The restaurant’s kitchen is helmed by renowned culinarian and cake designer Heny Sison, who brings with her a fresh take on Ilocano cuisine that embodies how “simple pleasures taste best.”
With three hungry girls hitting a stalemate in trying to decide between sharing a meat-veggie-rice or a pasta-pizza combo (all of us basically saying “I have no preference, it’s up to you” to each other in typical girl fashion), our waiter, Lloyd, gamely took it upon himself to break the tie and suggested that we go for the rice combo instead.
(He even took our picture to commemorate our lunch — Lloyd, you the real MVP!)
The winning combo which became our taste of Ilocos Sur consisted of:
Bagnet (Php415). Ilocos’ famous version of lechon kawali, this dish is basically a slab of pork belly broiled to tenderize the meat then deep-fried to achieve that signature crispy crackling skin. It is served with a dipping sauce called KBL which stands for Kamatis (tomatoes), Bagoong (shrimp paste) and Lasona (small purple onions).
Pinakbet Ala Apo Lakay. This is one of the two versions of pinakbet served here. Pinakbet consists of slow-cooked vegetables seasoned with bagoong and topped with bagnet. (We initially disappointed not to find eggplants in the mixture and it took our MVP waiter Lloyd to point out that the plump round morsels there were actually the eggplants – a far cry from the long and thin eggplants we usually see in the markets, right?)
Steamed White Rice (Php45/cup). The perfect palette with which to taste and savor our viands.
Because a good time spent with friends seeks to extend itself, we ordered a Mango Chocolate Torte (Php348.50) (recommended again by Lloyd the MVP), a Heny Sison creation which came to our table as towering layers of cashew meringue, bittersweet chocolate, mango mousse topped with white chocolate drizzles. One of us ordered a Brewed Coffee (Php95), which is, of course, served with the traditional Ilocos sweetener baculicha.
Despite the hefty food bill, the excellent service, the yummy food and the relaxed homey atmosphere made our taste of Ilocos Sur at Victorino’s totally worth it.
Victorino’s is open daily from 7am to 10pm. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 2 4147465.
And wouldn’t you know it, Victorino’s even delivers via Lalamove!
Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:
- The Lechon Shop, Tomas Morato
- Angus Tapa Centrale, Tomas Morato
- Gerry’s Grill, Tomas Morato
- Luna J Filipino Gastropub, Tomas Morato
- Gerry’s Grill, SM Marikina
- Bacolod Chicken Parilla, Tomas Morato
- Classic Savory, SM East Ortigas
- Jaytee’s Tagaytay
- Buddy’s, Cubao
- Cabalen, Ayala Malls Feliz
- Limbaga 77, Tomas Morato
Want to learn more about Filipino cuisine? Check out these books on Amazon.com!
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