A taste of Ilocos Sur at Victorino’s, Tomas Morato

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.”

Victorino’s Tomas Morato 2

Victorino’s Tomas Morato 2

Victorino’s Tomas Morato 2

Victorino’s Tomas Morato 2

Victorino’s Tomas Morato 2

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.

Victorino’s Tomas Morato

Victorino’s Tomas Morato

Victorino’s Tomas Morato

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.

Victorino’s Tomas Morato

Victorino’s Tomas Morato

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!

Victorino's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

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Breakfast at BenCab Museum’s Cafe Sabel

Part of the family’s Baguio vacay itinerary is a visit to the BenCab Museum. After hearing rave reviews about the place from friends for so long, and having an art geek for a daughter, I was glad to finally step foot in it.

Well, the 30-minute travel and all the walking around that we did took its toll on me and I got so hungry. The fam then decided to take our breakfast at Cafe Isabel, located at BenCab Museum’s lowest level.

Similar to the museum’s upper levels, Cafe Sabel offers fantastic views of the mountainside. It also leads to an organic farm and garden that, sadly, we weren’t able to explore due to the rain. The farm supplies fresh and organic ingredients for the cafe’s food offerings.

Our food orders were:

  • Basil Pesto (Php200). The pasta has a fresh flavor and is adequate as a snack. You might want to add to your order if you’re really hungry (like we were!)
  • Bagnet Rice (Php350). The crispy bagnet with melt-in-your-mouth fat went so well with the mountain red rice and chili eggplant salsa. After seeing me finish off my plate, hubby ordered his own.
  • Carbonara (Php200). A bit on the saucy side but good, nonetheless.
  • Strawberry Shake (Php120). It still has a bit of natural tartness from the fresh strawberries but my little boy loved it.
  • Hot Caramel Coffee (Php150). It was a good pick-me-upper and helped energize me for the rest of the tour.

Hopefully, I get to visit the cafe again in the near future to try out its hot choco!

Cafe Sabel follows the same hours as the museum: 9am to 6pm Tuesdays to Sundays (closed on Mondays, Christmas and New Year’s Day).

For more info on BenCab Museum, click here.

Laid-back lunch at White Camp, Tomas Morato

Lunchtime is that magical hour (or hour-and-a-half) where you can rest your brain from your office worries. For me and many of my work buddies, the lunch hour is sacred: it is a respite from work and an opportunity to explore the possibilities for gastronomic delights that surround the workplace.

Last Thursday, when I found myself without my usual lunch buddies, I was lucky enough to chance upon another officemate who was willing to forego the pleasures of the office foodcourt and accompany me to White Camp Coffee.

A newly opened cafe located at the corner of Mother Ignacia Avenue and Sgt. Esguerra Street in Quezon City, White Camp promises to be “a bright space for infinite cofee and dining adventures.”

The resto’s interiors are bright and cheery, a palette of white with spots of colors which are all easy on the eyes. Comfy tables, chairs and counters are conducive to hanging out and enjoying one’s coffee concoction.

For lunch that day, I ordered a Truffled Eggs on Toast brunch set (Php189) which consist of a smaller portion of the resto’s fluffy scrambled eggs with a hint of truffle oil on toast, accompanied by crunchy wonton chips and a free drink which I upgraded to a Latte (by adding Php30). Perfect timing as it turns out because brunch sets are only available weekdays from 10am to 2pm.

My companion, on the other hand, got a Bacon Bagnet Rice Meal (Php289). Sinful strips of bacon deep-fried for a satisfying crunch were served alongside fluffy garlic fried rice.

The portions were substantial considering my companion shared some of his bacon bagnet with me and I ended up having half of my toast wrapped up to go.

All in all, it was a satisfying meal for me, made all the better by having a new lunch companion.

Update: I went back to White Camp together with my usual lunch buddies. I ordered a Kani Sandwich Brunch Set (also Php189) and I just upgraded the drink to a Flat White (+ Php30).

White Camp Coffee and Kitchen is located at 62 Sgt. Esguerra Corner Mother Ignacia Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City (Tel: +63 9178987793)

White Camp Coffee & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato