Owing to its natural beauty from the beautiful seascapes to the countryside farms, La Union province would fascinate its visitors truly. Apart from this, the rich heritage and culture cloak its society, thus, diversifying your tourism experience. What are inseparable are the gastronomic experiences La Union would offer. Food trip? They have it! Since of the tourism boom, food hubs and restaurants mushroomed. To share on what Lakbay Norte 9 had made our experience, here are the places to let your tongue and tummy enjoy:
KAMBAK Resto Grill: strategically located along the main highway, this homegrown restaurant offers typical Ilocano recipes and other Filipino staples or favorites. For the nomenclature, KamBak is a fused word for “Kambing” (goat) and “Baka” (cow). From there, you can guess some of the dishes from the menu. Here are the mouthwatering dishes we tried:
- Kinigtot – a stirfried beef dish that akins to Pigar Pigar. The name means “ginulat” as part of the preparation is to abruptly pour boiling hot edible bile (papait). The meat portions are tender and loved the bitter-y after taste. I paired it with my LOCALLY Pink Guava Juice.
- Bulalo – an all-time beef soup favorite of Pinoys, and we are lucky to have served a bone with “utak” or marrow. This is where we do the “taktak” or force dislodging of the flavourful marrow.
- Pinakbet – known to be a Northern vegetable staple, mixed vegetables cooked with fish sauce.
- Grilled Hito – locally-sourced freshwater staple grilled to perfection.
The restaurant interiors feature wooden fixtures and accents and have an airy high ceiling. It is a go-to restaurant here in La Union and be ready for a full house during peak hours. The restaurant is located at Namoongan, Sto. Tomas, La Union. We are welcomed by the La Union Convention and Visitors Bureau (LUCVB) represented by their current IPP Officer Ms. Tina Antonio. The lunch is sponsored by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB).
UVAS Café Wine Tasting– Lomboy Farms in the town of Bauang is the precursor of the Grapes industry in the region. With decades of practice, the farm has improved the cultivation of the grapes and has led also to a tourism boom. As years go by, many lands turned to vineyards and offering another dimension of farming industry, the pick and pay. Lomboy Farms grew and has been the forefront in this side of the industry. Last 2016, they started the Uvas Café where they feature a variety of wines from different fruit sources.
Lakbay Norte 9 made us experience a cheese and wine tasting activity. Never I did in my travel history and have almost zero knowledge to describe and differentiate each individual wine. Thank you to our energetic host, she was able to easily discuss characteristics of each bottle, from the acidity, sweetness and alcohol level. After few shots of them, I felt the slight kick of alcohol in my head. Thank God for the sumptuous cheese and ham spread to partner with these wine delights.
What are my top favorites? They are Rosa, Mestiza, and surprisingly, the Guapple. Other varieties are the Pitaya, Morena Caffeine, Duhat wine and Bignay wine.
Wine Tasting 101: What I usually do before is to chug a full shot glass straightaway and let the after taste linger, but there is a better way to do it. According to our host, in able to properly taste the wine, take a shot of it, let it settle under your tongue, and swallow after a while. You will sense the fruit flavors, the acidity and tartness, and then follows the after taste. Then consume something that would cleanse your palate of any left behind flavours.
The wine tasting experience is made more notable because of the artsy and colorful spread. The café interiors itself is comforting. There is a veranda overlooking a plantation facing the sunset side. Apart from the wines on display, there are bring home treats you can purchase in the café. Uvas Café is located in Bauang, La Union and found along the national highway.
HALO HALO in Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe – Akin to its name “umok” meaning bird’s nest, the ancestral home of the acclaimed La Union Artist, Sir Cesar Dumo, is a berth of his admirable artwork and masterpieces. “Ciano” is included in honor of his dear father. The structure is erected during the 1960s and still stands strong amidst inclement. Ciano Umok is known for its version of their Halo Halo – using more dairy based ingredients to produce the creamy lingering taste in your mouth. It was a mere idea to Sir Cesar and started recognition as a side trip after summiting Mt. Kabugbugan aka Mt. Puraw – a natural vantage point to see La Union 360 degrees.
As of writing, Sir Cesar is constructing a space in their lot as a place for student artist. Kudos to his efforts in supporting the craftsmanship of the locals and budding artist!
In his gallery, you would see various paintings of different styles and sizes. Being a frustrated-painter myself, I cannot help but be enthralled with the sheer magnificence and eccentricity of his style. I have this limitation in three-dimensional art executions. There are sculptures as well, and what to strike me the most is the life-size human design from barbed wire.
The gallery café is found in Bauang, La Union, from the junction you can either walk or charter a tricycle to take you there.
The LITTLE SURFMAID RESORT – one of the premier surf resort in the town of San Juan. A multistorey accommodation building featuring rooms and suites that has verandas overlooking the West Philippine Sea, its ground floor is dominated by its in house restaurant. They have an alfresco dining area if you wish to dine with the view of the beach. During the Lakbay Norte 9, they served us these mouthwatering dishes:
- Pinakbet with Bagnet
- Fish Steak with Lemon
- Crispy Pata
- Seafood Salpicao
The resort is located in San Juan, La Union and easy to spot.
KAHUNA BEACH RESORT AND SPA – our first splendid dinner sponsored by the Department of Tourism – Region I took place in Kahuna. We dined alfresco style with our feet buried on the sand of San Juan beach.
Prior opening of the buffet, Sir Adamor Dagang, La Union’s Provincial Information Officer welcomed the team officially and extended messages from the Gov. Pacoy Ortega and Ms. Gay Gapaz of DOT-RI shared a brief message on behalf of DOT Regional Dir. Jeff Ortega.
After filling our bellies with the superb dinner buffet, the DOT-R1 office has given us lovely tokens. After our check-in Sebay Surf Resort. We headed back to Kahuna Beach resort and enjoyed the rest of the night with mallows and bonfire. The dinner is sponsored by the Department of Tourism – Region I.
The North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) organized the LAKBAY NORTE 9, in partnership with NLEX Corporation, Victory Liner Inc., La Union Convention and Visitors Bureau (LUCVB) and Pangasinan Vistors Bureau (PVB), a tourism activity to promote the Northern Luzon area and its main connectivity – the NLEX and SCTEX.
Lakbay Norte 9 is also sponsored by the Department of Tourism – Region I, Victory Liner, PTT, Belo Sun Expert, Kremil-S Advance and Myra E by Unilab, Locally, Cafe Amazon and Klean Kanteen.