La Preciosa | Laoag, Ilocos Norte
It is said that the ‘puqui-puqui’ dish originated in La Preciosa, an unimposing restaurant along Rizal St. in Laoag City in Northern Philippines. The dish may sound scandalous elsewhere in the country, but in the Ilocos region, it is just a delightful toss-up of grilled or steamed eggplant, boiled eggs, onions, tomatoes and fish sauce. It was never named after a female body organ. The term is actually Polynesian in origin and describes a process for sauteing anything with meat.
Since we have already tasted puqui-puqui at Herencia Cafe in Paoay, we did not order the eggplant omelette for what would have been our last full meal in Ilocos. We picked other authentic Ilocano dishes instead. There were just too many ‘best-sellers’ in the menu but our waiter that lunch time was patient enough with our curiosities. After taking our orders, he even gave us a quick tour around the restaurant.
The Crispy Dinardaraan (Php145) is dinuguan (a dish composed of pig entrails and blood) with a welcome twist: the innards were fried to crisp before a minimal amount of blood was added afterwards. I am not an avid fan of the dinuguan by the way, but much to our surprise, we finished this classy version first among the other dishes that morning.
We chose Sinanglao (Php150.00) for our soup. It is composed of beef chunks and some innards. It tasted like bulalo but with a different amount of sourness and bitterness. The photo above does not do any justice at all to its unique flavor. I must improve on my food photography skills next time around.
Bagbet (Php150.00) was my favorite in the batch. It is a fusion of two dishes: bagnet (deep-fried pork belly) and pinakbet (sautéed vegetables with fish paste). The resulting dish was a wonderful marriage of contrasting textures and flavors. It was a combination of the fishy and bitter aftertaste from the pinakbet sauce, and the glorious and mouthwatery feel of the deep-fried pork. Whoever experimented with this dish must file a patent for its originality and exquisiteness.
For dessert, we got the Chocolate Cake, Oreo Cheesecake and Carrot Cakes (Php70.00 each) These were, without a doubt, the climax of our experience that afternoon. Each was a perfect balance of sweetness and individual flavor. These were not overpowering at all. And you may just end up eating your way through a single serving, without you being fully aware of doing the crime. We were all guilty then of violating all our self-imposed dietary restrictions in that regard.
The dishes, desserts, drinks and tip cost each of us Php200.00 only. Service was quick as our orders were served in just 15 minutes. The place also exudes the unmistakable charm that you were just visiting someone else’s home.
We almost missed La Preciosa after our brief walking tour around Laoag. I honestly did not expect that we end up at there because we have already spent a substantial amount of our budgets after our 3-day adventure around Ilocos. But looking back, I could say that it was indeed a wise decision, one which I would gladly do all over again.
La Preciosa Fine Dining and Catering Services
Rizal Street, Laoag City
+63 77 773-162