Always on the lookout for new places to eat in or new food to taste, an Ilocano visitor told me that there is an Ilocano Kitchen here in Davao. So off we go.
The first item on the list was: Empanada. As expected of an Ilocos Norte empanada, the crust made of rice flour was orange in color because of the atsuete coloring, crispy, filled with egg, mongo sprouts and grated papaya.
Second item: my favorite Igado. It had an equal mix of liver and pork meat that was not salty. The right duo of red bell pepper and garlic did not overpower the taste of the liver and pork combination. It was the first dish to be demolished.
Third item: Poki-poki or for some, Ensaladang Talong (Eggplant). For Poki-Poki to be authentic, the Eggplant should be broiled or grilled in charcoal and not just on flames. It was skinned cleanly and no trace of skin was left. It was flattened/ mashed (not too much) and mixed with tomatoes, onions and ginger. Good as appetizer or salad.
Fourth item: Pinakbet. My all time vegetable dish favorite. The Ilocanos put all the vegetables (squash, eggplant, ampalaya, string beans, okra, long green sili, tomatoes) in a pot, pour in Ilocano bagoong, allowed to simmer, topped with Bagnet then shaked. In this way, all the flavors are sealed. So when you eat it, all the flavors burst in your mouth.
I was looking for Dinengdeng (vegetable soup like the Visayan Law-uy) but having ordered the four dishes plus miki, it was enough to fill our tummies and satisfy the Ilokanos’ taste for authentic Ilokano dishes.
Nearly forgot to mention… the Bagnet is what it should be: Crackling crispy meaty.
The good conversations and the delicious food added to a very happy reunion of friends who have not seen each other in twenty years. It was an Ilokanos treating a half-Ilokana in an Ilokano kitchen in Davao!
If you want an Ilokano culinary experience in Davao City, visit Cucina Ilocana at Unit C-8, Mabini Commercial Complex, V. Mapa corner Mabini Streets, Davao City. Call (082) 3018946.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Major airlines fly daily to Davao City from Manila and Cebu. It is an hour and 40 minutes away from Manila and an hour from Cebu. Airfare range from PhP4,000-9,000 (US$93-209.30). Taxi flag down rate is PhP40.