I think along with a lot of Filipinos, I grew up eating street foods. They are cheap, accessible, tasty and filling. The popular grilled isaw (chicken intestine) is a staple favorite on our table and we make sure to buy only from vendors we know. While street food is delicious, there can be sanitary concerns on how they are prepared and served. That’s why growing up, I toned down a bit on consuming them. That may be why my mouth was all agape when I plateful of isaw and other Filipino street food favorites were set on our table at Balwarte in Angono. I miss eating them. The place is a new family-owned restaurant in Angono serving Filipino street and comfort food in a simple and clean dine-in setting.
Stop holding off on the whip cream and just let go of your sweet cravings once you enter Lava Mocha Cafe in Angono. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat funky though slightly tacky interiors. This cafe aims mainly for the student market from a nearby school. Prices are budget friendly yet in good portions and value. Most of all, they taste better than they are priced. But what you really come here for are the desserts.
Finding a boutique shop inside a burger and chicken wings joint may seem to be an odd combination. For owners Faye and Leo David, they are just all too happy to finally have a place they can serve their homestyle grilled burgers and buffalo wings and a lifestyle shop to give back to their loyal online customers. The Wings On The Go restaurant may have opened recently this year (March 2016), but they have been operating since 2012 in a delivery and pick-up system. Their menu and offerings, showcased online via Facebook, was such a massive hit they developed a cult-like following in Angono and nearby towns. On a recent visit to Angono, I had a chance to try Wings on the Go and find out what made people crazy over Wings On The Go.
From what started as an online business of selling baked goodies and treats in Instagram and Facebook, Kim is Hungry Cakes + Cafe is one sweet success story. With enough loyal customer base who enjoyed her dessert offerings, Kim Gonzales, the owner, managed to open her own cafe. Now, her customers and walk-ins can enjoy her cakes, and cupcakes with the addition of coffee, frappes and other meals.
Angono, the art capital of the Philippines, is not only a haven for artists but also a showcase of the Philippines’ rich culinary heritage. Talk about Angono and Balaw Balaw will eventually come up in the conversation. Balaw Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery has been known to serve exotic dishes utilizing indigenous ingredients used by our forefathers like the balaw balaw (fermented shrimp sauce). They are also popular for serving exotic dishes like butt and balls Soup #5, the fried itik (native duck) and uok (giant coconut worms). While the staples are still there, the Vocalan family who run the restaurant still tries to innovate on traditional dishes to adapt them to the modern times.
It’s refreshing to know that in the age of processed and fast-food meals, there are still alternative dining places that offer “clean” food with recipes stripped off of preservatives and chemicals that could harm our bodies in the long term. Coming off from another revitalizing yoga session from Life Yoga, I ventured to the adjoining cafe Vibe Superfood. Just a cursory look at their menu and reading witty, music-inspired names of the dishes instantly put me in a good mood. I placed an order for their Curry Me Away (a song from the Doobie Brothers) and Matcha-Twenty (from the band Matchbox Twenty) and got excited for the treats to come.
There’s a reason to be mad about Mad Monkeys in La Union — this small street corner stall sells only one dish – burgers! But boy, are they so good at it. Cue the funky jazz tunes, have a cold beer in hand and chomp on their Classic Burger (Php 180). In between the burger buns are one-inch thick and juicy 180gm burger patties laced with melted cheese and smothered in beer sauce. Owner, Mateo, an avid traveler, got inspired by the Mad Monkey’s hostel in Cambodia and decided to bring its chill backpacker vibe to La Union. He originally came here to surf but fell in love with the place, eventually setting up shop in 2015 and overseeing operations since then.
I have a friend who’s known as the “Sound Check Guy”. He’s musically inclined and decided to live in La Union for good, finding he felt more at home there. He worked as a barista for a small coffee shop for a while and that’s where I first heard about El Union Coffee. This small cafe ran by Kiddo and Sly sources locally grown coffee beans from around La Union. Their signature blend became a hit among the locals and tourists alike. The cafe quickly outgrew its original site and had to move to a new location along the MacArthur National Highway.