24 Sep2007


After spending less than 24 hours in Vigan, we got back into the car and drove leisurely up to Laoag, which took roughly 2 hours, if I recall correctly. We passed the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the Philippines in one of the towns along the way and the roadside vendors had thousands of cloves of garlic and red shallots on offer. When we got to Laoag, a quick drive around town confirmed why nearly all the guide books irreverently suggest skipping it entirely, but we did want grab some lunch, and several sources suggested we should try a restuarant called La Preciosa, on Rizal Street, though I have to admit I was a bit worried after the disappointing lunch we had the previous dayat Cafe Leona in Vigan…


La Preciosa is located in a converted residential home that must have dated back to the 1960’s or 50’s and as you enter you have a choice of dining downstairs or in the upstairs area where all the room partititions seem to have been removed. We chose a table upstairs and it was bright and airy, but the restaurant was absolutely jam-packed with people. There were a mixture of locals and drive-by tourists like us. The menu was extensive and ordered more than we could consume. First up was an unusually named dish called “poqui-poqui” or tortang talong with sliced tomatoes and onions. When it arrived it looked like wet scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions and eggplants and did not immediately endear itself. But the taste was surprisingly good… the familiar tastes and textures of a tortang talong, but without the whole overlay of being fried. Instead, the eggplant was more eggplanty, and the eggs just helped to bind it all together a bit more. The use of patis and or salt also made this surprisingly salty, yet delicious. Definitely a surprise hit for all of the adults at the table.


We also ordered an Inabraw or Dinengdeng, a soup with a stunning selection of fresh vegetables and some fish, in this case, slices of tanguigue. The surprise element in this broth was the addition of lots of ginger, that gave the soup a refreshing and soothing flavor. The veggies in this particular version included sitaw (long beans), okra, sigarilyas (winged bean), ampalaya, squash flowers, tomatoes, gabi (taro root), malunggay pod (horseradish tree pods), etc. Similar to other staple vegetable soups across the archipelago, reminiscent of a Cebuano utan for example, but this version was really thick with a wonderful selection of vegetables. The fish was an afterthought in this particular example, and it barely impacted the rest of the soup.


We also ordered another soupy dish, Lauya, I think it was called. Steamed Pork Ribs served pochero style with pechay greens. The broth was also made thicker by the addition of gabi or taro root, and there was a slight sourness to the soup, but I couldn’t figure out from what. This was a nice soup on its own, and a bit of an overkill when viewed in the context of the entire meal we ordered. I would definitely order this again, actually I would order everything mentioned so far again…


We also ordered some Laoag longganisa and as you can see from the photo, it was filled with incredibly disturbing, large solid pieces of fat. It was only day two of the trip but this was our fourth hit of longganisa, and frankly, I wasn’t thrilled with the ones we had had so far. These were a bit hard, but not rock hard, and I couldn’t quite figure out the difference between Loaogian longganisa and the Vigan ones… does it have something to do with the vinegar? sugar? salt content? What?


The Kid was already overdosing on new dishes so we tried to order a few familiar dishes and the bistek tagalog was competent but nothing to write home about. The chicken and pork adobo was delicious and flavorful but oddly with fried potatoes. We also had to get bagnet and KBL (tomatoes, bagoong and onions). Overall it was a very good meal and at PHP930 for 4, very reasonably priced as well. I think was the second best meal of the trip to Ilocos, the first being the dinner at Grandpa’s Inn in Vigan the night before.


La Preciosa Restaurant
Rizal Street
Laoag, Ilocos Norte



  1. noemi says:

    oh my dinengdeng!

    Sep 24, 2007 | 7:04 am


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  3. Silly Lolo says:

    Isn’t it funny how family eating practices develop? I can’t explain how or why but my family developed a liking for chicken/pork adobo served with a fresh bag of Lay’s thick cut potato chips. My In-laws are caucasians and so the grandkids are all blonde, blue eyed critters. My kids are of course Pinoys as can be, born and raised here in the US and all speak tagalog. You should see this tribal gathering dig into “Lola’s Dobi-Dobo-N-Chips”!
    My daughter seriously thinks the richness of the adobo is reduced somehow by the taste of the crispy potato chips. I actually think they just like steamed rice soaked in adobo gravy, spooned onto a crunchy piece of po-chip.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 7:22 am

  4. bedazzle says:

    reminds me of my in-law’s cooking. first time i heard the name of the dish quaintly called “poqui-poqui”, i was shocked. i wonder why it’s called that? would anybody know? but having married a true blue ilocano, i learned to not only cook these dishes but to also love to eat them. did you try any pinapaitan while you were in ilocos, MM?

    Sep 24, 2007 | 7:35 am

  5. elaine says:

    I’ve always loved Ilocano cuisine. Our help/cook would make the best dinengdeng, with grilled fish in it. truly truly wonderful dish close to being a comfort food. The torta looked a bit mushy though, was wondering if the eggs were cooked enough but again I also like anythng with eggplant. You seem to have had a ‘food’ blast!

    Sep 24, 2007 | 8:25 am

  6. mrs mm says:

    that dinengdeng really looks refreshing and it made me homesick. haven’t eaten those sigarilyas- my favorite- in a loooong time.
    the other soupy dish with the pechay could be “lauya” another ilocano mainstay.
    i wonder if you had “igado” on this trip?

    Sep 24, 2007 | 9:41 am

  7. dizzy says:

    from the picture, i thought it was ensaladang talong…

    Sep 24, 2007 | 10:11 am

  8. Marketman says:

    dizzy, yes, it looks a bit like a salad, but it definitely had cooked eggs… mrs mm, thank you for correcting me on the name, yes, lauya looks right in my notes now, I though I wrote lanya but lauya makes sense, I have edited the post. elaine, the torta was mushy, but I think they intended it to be that way… bedazzle, unfortunately, I never got to the pinapaitan. Silly Lolo, adobo and potato chips is defintely a new one for me. noemi, funny how vegetable soups get such a positive reaction from some folks!

    Sep 24, 2007 | 11:27 am

  9. zeph says:

    A jester friend of mine once asked the parish priest hosting our luncheon at La Preciosa two years ago, “Father, how do you pronounce this?” (pointing at poqui-poqui on the menu). The parish priest blushed and said, “Hija, you need to confess later.”

    MM, you should’ve gone to Cafe Uno in Vigan!

    Sep 24, 2007 | 11:56 am

  10. Blaise says:

    Hello MarketMan,

    Were you able to get the recipe of that poqui-poqui? I want to replicate that one, since tortang talong is my favorite.. Thanks..

    Sep 24, 2007 | 12:55 pm

  11. tulip says:

    The poqui poqui is grilled/broiled then peeled before sauteing it with lots of onions, tomatoes and eggs.Very easy,but very good. I learned it from in-laws and they usually cook it during camping at the beach. Having ginger in vegetable dishes or any dish is very common among Ilocanos, an Ilocano in-law claims.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 1:54 pm

  12. bluegirl says:

    First thing that came to mind when I saw the Poqui-poqui is… wouldn’t that be nicer with a hint of heat (siling labuyo) then served like an appetizer over thin slices of crunchy toasted french bread.. hm, I’m getting hungry here.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 1:56 pm

  13. erleen says:

    I prefer my lonnganisa to have those cubed fats inside. I like it with lots of kamatis, itlog na maalat and white rice. tska cold sarsi!

    Sep 24, 2007 | 4:34 pm

  14. palengkera says:

    erleen, have you heard of “Sparkle” it’s getting quite popular here in Davao. I think it’s a new softdrink by Coca Cola. But right on with the longganisa and it is even more delicious if the casing gets a bit crispy-fried. Sus ginoo.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 5:05 pm

  15. corrine says:

    Gosh,I’ve been trying to trace the origin of what my mother calls “laoya”. I’ve only seen it served in our home in Laguna ( you can consider it an heirloom recipe) and nowhere else. But, it’s more a cross between bulalo and cocido. I cook bulalo using beef shanks then there is a side dish made of boiled camote, eggplant, saba all mashed together with mashed garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It’s far from the lauya you described but it’s named the same. That’s amazing!

    Sep 24, 2007 | 5:24 pm

  16. Blaise says:

    Thanks tulip for the tip..

    I’m really going to try out that poqui-poqui, looks so good..

    Sep 25, 2007 | 9:25 am

  17. sugar says:

    MM! what happened in Cafe Leona?… Vigan longganisa i think is more garlicky than the ones in laoag. For me it tastes better, even their empanada(grated papaya or cabbage/vigan longganisa and egg complimented with sukang iloco with onions)

    Sep 25, 2007 | 1:56 pm

  18. Maria Clara says:

    Lauya looks good! Poqui poqui is new to me and thanks Tulip for the heads up on how to cook it.

    Sep 27, 2007 | 12:59 am

  19. paul says:

    woah, no way! my family and i ate at this restaurant the last time we were in the philippines…like about 2 years ago! it’s right around the corner from my cousins’ house. honestly, i didn’t enjoy it that much. for one thing, my sister and i saw a rat scurry across the floor…that threw off our appetite. and for me, the food wasn’t all that great. i forgot what i had but i just had a small portion of it and i was done.

    Sep 27, 2007 | 4:19 am

  20. PinoyzZ cray c.r.a.z.y. says:

    we think the poqui-poqui is “sarap”!!!xD


    B careful.

    By: PinoyZz

    Mar 5, 2008 | 7:51 pm

  21. ilokano-kano says:

    I was reading your blog and it seems you went for the tourist trap restaurants in iLOCOS Norte. There is this restaurant in San Nicolas just before the bridge to Laoag called Dawangs actually a hole in the wall or rather a “Carinderia” that serves the best food. If you are not particular about the ambience like the G3 or G5 restaurants in Makati this eatery is an extension of the owners house right beside their kitchen and outdoor laundry.Sounds terrible but you have to try it. Authentic homecooked iLOCANO food…Try their tinono(grilled pork with tomatos, sinanglaw(papaitan),Baligatad(medium cooked beef),sarabasab, igado,and their dinuguan with chicharon with lots of rice and bottled soda. WE first tried this restaurant about 8 years ago courtesy of our late DAD and we keep coming back every year along with his 12 grand children who love eating there and trying new dishes.This restaurant is definitely always on our itinerary.One lunch for the whole brood of 20 hungry kids along with 30 orders of rice, and 2 cases of soda cost us just PHP1650!!!!. Try it!!”DAWANGS”…. Ilocos longanisa is different for each town but the Cabugao,sinait and Batac are the best and it tastes even better when grilled.Batac empanada is the BEST when you like it with eggs and longanisa, Vigan empanada is good when you order the plain ones make sure you dip it sukang iloko… In Santo Domingo,iLocos Sur they sell Malunggay ice cream.. Happy Eating!!!

    May 31, 2008 | 2:05 am

  22. shalum says:

    you’re so right about the vigan longganisa.

    Feb 7, 2009 | 1:17 am

  23. sheena says:

    Hi Marketman! I think poqui poqui is best paired with tuyo! Yum yum! Gosh! I’m craving for eggplant… I’m salivating.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 4:27 pm


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