By Sey Palma
When I hear of La Union only one thing comes to mind, surfing. The clean, big waves are a surfer’s paradise. But did you know that a treasure is hidden behind the waves and waters? And it is deliciously in the form of amazing food.
Halo-Halo de Iloko is one of La Union’s must go to places. This unassuming restaurant served the best meal I had at my stay in La Union.
What started as a halo halo corner along the streets of LA Union by its proprietor Xavier Mercado, it has grown into a well known establishment and one of the most sought after restaurants by tourists.
Once I entered the restaurant, a whimsical feel has instantly filled my senses. There were corners of vintage stuff that were from Xavier’s family home, colorful paintings, dramatic chandeliers and even a ceiling with old vinyl records.
Now came the food. From the OKOY TIYOSKO (made of shrimp, longanisa bits, mongo sprouts, squash, carrots and malunggay) that served as the appetizer, to the mix of delicious seafood viands and even a goat soup, every bit is delicious. Other must tries: PALABOKANO (Palabok Ilocano with longanisa bits) and the EMPAREDADOS.
But the star of the whole meal? It is of course the HALO-HALO de ILOKO that started it all. Made out of secret recipe ingredients that only Xavier knows of, and to this day he personally cooks, this is one halo-halo you shouldn’t miss. I hailed from Pampanga, home of the best halo halos, but I can tell you honestly that this one can give my hometown’s halo-halo a run for their money.
The notable ingredients for me are the UBE SAN GABRIEL (the ube used is of the round variety and is cultivated from the town of San Gabriel, La Union), SAGIN from AGOO, PASTILLAS made of carabao’s milk and the delicious HOMEMADE ICECREAM. Xavier makes it a point that all ingredients came from different towns of La Union so as to help local farmers and for the awareness of local products in the province.
The halo-halo de Iloko is heavenly. Perfect for the summer season, I would definitely travel back to La Union for this next summer. But did you know that you can enjoy halo halo on the rainy season as well? In the form of Halo halo de Iloko’s Deep FriedHalo-halo and Ginataang Halo-halo. Are you salivating just like I am?
So if you’re headed north, make sure not to miss out on this hidden wonder. Just make sure to call ahead because this tiny piece of heaven is fully packed especially on peak seasons.
Surf in the day and eat your heart out after. What gets better than that? J
For reservations, please contact: Xavier Mercado
#12 Zandueta St., San Fernando City, La Union
(072)700-2030, 0919-388-3145, 0917-852-7919
How to get there:
The air conditioned bus firms (Dominion Bus Lines, Philippine Rabbit, Partas, Fariñas, Maria de Leon, and Viron) depart from terminals in Manila every hour. Destinations can either be La Union, Narvacan, Vigan, Laoag or Abra. The City of San Fernando lies 273 km. from Manila, which is about 5 hours by land or 30 minutes by air, and is about an hour’s drive from Baguio City.
Choose Philippines would like to express its appreciation to the Department of Tourism for allowing us to take part in the 7thLa Union Surfing Break. Special thanks to Department of Tourism Region 1 Regional Director Mr. Martin Valera and Mrs. Gay Marie Acacio-Gapas for the invitation and the generous assistance on this trip. Maraming Salamat po!