Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roaming Ilocos: Café Leona Lunch, Vigan

Hungry! Yes the mind was brimming full with the experiences of the ‘just arrived’ trip from Laoag but the tummy dear was starting to create a revolution! So I walked the plaza towards Calle Crisologo. I still remember from my last tour we ate at a good restaurant in some old era house near the entrance to that street and just fronting the plaza where our tour bus parked. I knew it was a woman’s name for a restaurant. Definitely not Greenwich (to my right as I walked) and definitely not Max’s also on the right (though it is by the entrance to Calle Crisologo)). Then in front of me I saw the aged signboard that said Café Leona. I looked back, just to see if the plaza was really behind me. Yes, this was it! Café Leona!

While the waiter laid their book of a menu on the table I told him “Vigan Longanisa, plain rice and coke regular”! Hah, am sure he got it that I was really really hungry hehe. He attempted to ask if I wanted the “longsilog” but he was not even finished yet, I answered “no” and immediately pointed to “Longaniza” on the second line, page 1 of their menu hehe! He quickly disappeared to relay my order to their kitchen and just as quickly returned with my ‘coke in cans’ with a glass of ice. As he stood beside my table he asked if I just came from touring the city. I answered I just arrived via a very long trip from Laoag that took the whole morning hehe. That as I busied myself skimming through their menu that’s as heavy as a wedding album!

As if on cue, when the waiter disappeared to probably fetch my order, a waitress came to ask if I wanted pasta or if I wanted to try their “eat-all-you-can” promo. I shook my head and told her to instead give me an order of California Maki. Maki? Hai tomo hai, they have an extensive list of Japanese fare in the menu (red page) and I thought I would try something. Its been a time that I have not been to Omakase anyway. So two likes in one sitting! And mind you, their dining area is airconditioned but smoking is allowed and there was an ashtray in my table. So make that 5 likes – longaniza, maki, rice, coke, and Marlboro Lights haha!

My orders came and I devoured them like I was starved for centuries. Another can of coke had to be in place. Oh, as I dined, a throng of local tourists (all Tagalog speaking) suddenly appeared and when I looked at the counter, there were lots of longaniza already packed in white plastic bags with names written on them. A woman started calling out names and the tourists hustled to get them. Some would ask or beg for more as they got their orders (like “pwede 5 kilos nalang instead of 3?”) but the woman said in a loud voice for all of them to hear that she’d give out the original orders first. I asked the waiter what was that all about. He told me that those tourists came on a bus for breakfast, ordered longaniza and are now getting them. He further intimated that management usually brings in extra kilos for they are sure some would ask for more.

Hmm, that was good to know. At least you don’t need to go to the palengke anymore and stand there undecided which is a better longaniza. And I like it that Café Leon does this in the afternoons after the lunch hour peak cuz indeed, their counter becomes like transformed into a palengke! Waiter told me though that they usually do this at the extension (another dining area of the restaurant when there are too many of these local tourists ordering longaiza.

That was something new to me! Though I seldom buy those pasalubongs, nice to tell you my dear readers where you can conveniently pre-order those. Waiter further told me that sometimes, their kitchen crew becomes your competition, since they too must order for their stocks of longaniza! That only means the thing they sell is itself the very same thing they cook and serve their diners. And they taste delectably good!

Let’s roam the city next?!

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