While driving into the town center of Pagsanjan for our whitewater canoe trip to Pagsanjan Falls, we noticed a newly opened restaurant housed in an old abode along the highway. Balai Ilocos is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that first opened in BF Homes, Parañaque City and now has opened a branch in Pagsanjan. Furnished with antiques and memorabilia, the interior of the restaurant was airy and nostalgic, echoing the bygone colonial era – just like their original branch. The house was well-preserved, its capiz shell windows and calado woodwork still intact. Old photographs adorned the walls.
Entering the property, we walked up the tiled steps to the main dining hall. We were the only customers there. Browsing their menu, we settled for the Balai Ilocos Platter (PHP 295) which consists of the classic Ilocano favorites, bagnet (deep-fried pork belly), igado (pork liver stew) and Vigan longganisa (pork sausages), as well as pinakbet (vegetable stew) rice (PHP 80). Everything we ordered was good: the pork belly was crisp and succulent, and the sausages had that distinct garlicky taste. I was really impressed.
While I was enjoying their authentic Ilocano fare in such an ambience, I truly felt transported to another time and another place. It felt like we were visiting an ancestral house somwhere in Vigan and enjoying a home-cooked Ilocano meal. Balai Ilocos definitely makes for a wonderful stop on any road trip passing by Pagsanjan.
For instructions on how to get to Pagsanjan from Metro Manila, visit my previous post on visiting Pagsanjan Falls.
Balai Ilocos – Pagsanjan Branch
Address : 760 JP Rizal St, Pagsanjan, Laguna, Philippines
Contact Numbers: +63 49 5010828 or +63 9175819041
Opening Hours: 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM