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Halo-Halo de Iloko | That Sweet Hodge-Podge

Driving on the northwestern side of the Philippines is synonymous to inescapable food trip. From Pangasinan all the way up to Burgos is a sure gustatory ride of the best Ilocano cuisine. In San Fernando City, La Union, travelers take a quick detour into Zandueta Street for one thing — Halo-Halo de Iloko.

So much has been talked about its famed halo-halo and it certainly did not escape my yummyeology trail when I stayed in San Fernando for a day. Admittedly, I thought nothing was really special about its piece de resistance apart from being served pretty in a buko shell not until something extraordinarily sweet and crunchy exploded in my mouth! I had to scoop out the non-fruit looking ingredient on a separate saucer and one by one, like a mad scientist, I broke them into pieces and tasted it. Alas, I found what I was looking for! It is a special kind of ground mountain rice turned into a super compacted polvoron (Spanish shortbread) with hints of pinipig (toasted young green rice grain). There may be a thousand and one preparations of halo-halo in the Philippines but this one uses camubeor mashed camote (sweet potato) and ube (purple yam) sweetened further by yema (custard candy) and finished with the aromatic pandan. Now, this is what you call halo-halo!
Their success in halo-halo led them into expanding their menu to include other exciting fusion of our Ilocano favorites. Emparedados is their version of cheeseburger or fried bun stuffed with what else but Ilocano longganisa! But their best seller is Sinampalukang Buknok or chicken stew in coconut juice kicked with tamarind and served in a buko shell. Another must-try is Okoy Tikyosko or shrimp and squash omelet dipped in Sumayet vinegar. Complementary to its good food is their fantastic wait staff. They know the menu and they engage their customers very well, similar to how 5-star restaurants do it. For great food, superb ambience, reasonable price and sincere customer service, no wonder this small place comes big in recommendations.  
A pleasurable dining experience is the lifeblood of any restaurant. For a city like San Fernando commonly tagged as a stopover, this delightful Halo-Halo de Iloko experience is what journeys with the passers-by to wherever they are going and returning to. It is word-of-mouth and this one surely takes a 5-star!   
Halo-Halo de Iloko
No12, Zandueta Street
San Fernando City, La Union

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Summary: Perfect rest stop on the way to Ilocos Region.


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