The Hidden Garden: An Ilocano Food Restaurant cum Garden in Vigan City

Vigan is home to a lot of wondrous places and activities. A day would be easily filled with going to historical houses, churches, museums, etc. With all the activities that you can do, make sure to get a good meal at the end of the day. This could be answered by a lot of food stalls and restaurants in the city. However, one of the food establishments offers authentic Ilocano foods IN A garden.

Contents

Disclaimer: The content of this article is based on personal experience as well as references to the date of publication. Changes may occur on contact details, transportation, fees, etc. With this, please do comment at the end of the article any updates as well as corrections on the content, anything amiss, or any information that you think is crucial to the readers. Thank you!


Location

Address: #56 Bulala Centro, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Philippines

Coordinates: 17.5595° N, 120.3645° E

Map:

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Business Hours

Usual business hours starts as early as 06:00AM and closes at 05:30PM. Better yet, don’t go too early or too late. Peak hours at around 11:00AM to 04:00PM.

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Contact Details

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The Hidden Garden

Vigan is home to a lot of wondrous places and activities. A day would be easily filled with going to historical houses, churches, museums, etc. With all the activities that you can do, make sure to get a good meal at the end of the day. This could be answered by a lot of food stalls and restaurants in the city. However, one of the food establishments offers authentic Ilocano foods IN A garden.


The Restaurant…

The popularity of this native food establishment cum garden is a big contrast to its name–it is not hidden, rather, it is widely-known. Probably it is hidden because you cannot believe that the modest entrance hides a great place. The place is also adorned with some local house ornaments and implements.

A rattan hammock is used as part of the myriad of native adornment in the Lilong and Lilang Restaurant. A water buffalo skull with intact horn is also seen in the above image.
Just after the entrance, you will be greeted with banderitas and some local fishing (?) implements.

The restaurant is officially known as Hidden Garden Lilong and Lilang Restaurant. It offers native Ilocano dishes such as bagnet, longganisa, sinanglaw, poqui-poqui, dinengdeng, pinakbet, etc. The following images are pages from their menu.


The Hidden Garden…

The ‘hidden’ garden has an interesting history. Six years ago, Francis Flores, the owner of Hidden Garden of Vigan suffered from three heart attacks and had half of his body paralyzed [1]. Also, this made him realize to change his life, start a garden, and became a landscape architect. It later became a business and an restaurant even popped inside it.

There are direction signs along the pathways in the Hidden Garden; you’ll not get lost.

Before [or after] partaking a sumptuous Ilocano meal, you can have a walk on the maze of its garden. It offers some good displays of plants. These plants are also for sale, such as herbs, bonsais, flowers, ornamental plants, etc. The walk would be a treat to plant lovers. They might even grab some plants home.

Hanging plant display. These are for sale.
This is the bonsai garden, one of the sections of the entire garden.

Thus, if you want to try some native delicacies and you are also a plant lover, this could be the best venue for you to eat.

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How to Get There

By land. Take any bus heading to Vigan City or Laoag City.

  • Manila buses bound to Vigan City are Partas, Dominion Bus, Aniceto Bus, Viron Transit, Florida Bus Line, Fariñas Trans, Maria De Leon Bus Lines, RCJ Bus Lines and F. Franco Transit. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the Hidden Garden.
  • From Baguio City, you can take a Partas bus near SM City Baguio or the ordinary mini-buses in Bayanihan. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the Hidden Garden.
  • GMW Liner and Florida Liner have buses plying a vice versa Abra and Tuguegarao with a stop in Vigan City route. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the Hidden Garden.

By air. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Laoag International Airport. Take any bus bound to Vigan City. Anywhere from Vigan City, hail a tricycle or kalesa [two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage] and tell the driver to drop you at the Hidden Garden.

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Helpful Local Phrases
  • Good morning: Naimbag a bigat; Good afternoon: Naimbag a malem; Good day: Naimbag nga aldaw; Good evening: Naimbag a rabii
  • How are you?: Kumusta
  • Thank you: Agyamanak
  • What is your name?: Ania ti nagan mo?
  • I don’t understand: Diak maawatan
  • How do I get to…?: Kasantnu ak a makapan sadiay…?
  • One: maysa, two: duwa, three: tallo, four: uppat, five: lima, six: ennem, seven: pito, eight: walo, nine: siyam, ten: sangapulo
  • How much is this?: Sagmamano daytoy?
  • Help!: Arayat!
  • Sorry: Pakawanennak

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Other Notable Nearby Places

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References

[1] Facebook.com. n.d. About: LILONG AND LILANG RESTAURANT. [online] Available at: <https://www.facebook.com/pg/hiddengardenvigan/about/?ref=page_internal&gt; [Accessed 26 March 2020].

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Advertisement

Halo-Halo de Iloko

A few minutes walk from the national road, this halo-halo house have been tickling the taste buds of locals and tourists alike. From the national road, you can either walk or hail a tricycle to the resto. While the city temperature is quite hot during high noon, a serving of their all-time favorite halo-halo can easily lower down your body temperature.

Location

Address: #12 Zandueta St., San Fernando City, La Union

Coordinates: 16.6172° N, 120.3198° E

Map:


Business Hours
  • The restaurant is open from 09:00AM until 09:00PM
  • Peak hours starting at 11:00AM til 02:00PM and 0500PM-08:00PM

Contact Details

The Best Halo Halo in Town

A few minutes walk from the national road, this halo-halo house have been tickling the taste buds of locals and tourists alike. From the national road, you can either walk or hail a tricycle to the resto. While the city temperature is quite hot during high noon, a serving of their all-time favorite halo-halo can easily lower down your body temperature.

Their signature halo-halo is what draws people to flock this establishment. Because of this shaved ice, I have been to this restaurant, maybe, once a year since it is far from my home base. Price starts at Php70.00 up to Php180.00, depending on the size.



They also offer other Filipino dishes such as “sinalamagian/sinampalukan” (tamarind soup), “nateng” (vegetable), “lames ti baybay” (seafoods), “inapoy” (rice meals), local desserts, etc.


Aside from the luscious local foods, the restaurant itself is instragammable. It features old wares as well as different parts of La Union.



Tips
  • Don’t go there during peak hours especially if you are a big group. Better yet, contact them if you could book in advance.
  • If you are coming from San Juan, ride a jeepney bound to San Fernando City via CSI. Tell the driver to drop you in the junction nearest the restaurant.
  • Explore the restaurant before eating. There are interesting displays throughout the building.
  • If eating in this resto is your only itinerary for the day, you could explore nearby places like beaches in San Juan, Kamay na Bato Art Gallery in Luna, or go for an early dip in Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel.

Image Sources

1. Halo Halo de iLoko La Union. (2019 March 24). “BUKO HALO HALO” Halo Halo de iloko La Union, Philippines 🇵🇭 magpasarap ka muna! 🤗. Retreived on 2020 March 05 from https://www.facebook.com/magpasarapkamuna/photos/a.1792028314229403/2062550637177168/?type=3&theater

2. Halo Halo de iLoko La Union. (2019 April 08). summer life’s saver! Halo Halo de iloko La Union, Philippines 🇵🇭 magpasarap ka muna! 🤗📸whatdietph Retrieved on 2020 March 05 from https://www.facebook.com/magpasarapkamuna/photos/a.1792028314229403/2084327508332814/?type=3&theater

3. Halo Halo de iLoko La Union. (2019 March 20). Halo Halo de iloko La Union, Philippines🇵🇭
📸hungryandrestless [Facebook status update]. Retrieved on 2020 March 05 from https://www.facebook.com/magpasarapkamuna/photos/a.1792028314229403/2057531994345699/?type=3&theater

FARMER’S DAUGHTER RESTAURANT

Eating at Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant would always give me that authentic, homey, Cordilleran feeling. Recently opened, it is already getting special place in the tummies of locals and highland visitors and making exemplary ratings among online cuisine and travel sites.

 
Location:
Tam-awan, Longlong, Baguio City, Philippines (just beside the entrance of Tam-awan Village).
Dining Hours:
9:00AM-8:00PM
Contacts:
Telephone: (074) 661 4384
How To Get There:
Just hail a cab along the Central Business District of Baguio; do not forget to tell the driver that it is just beside the Tam-awan Village entrance.
 

You might be wondering why a restaurant has found a place in this non-cuisine travel blog. Well, it could easily be justified that it is probably the only restaurant in Baguio City that exclusively offers pure authentic Cordilleran dishes in a rustic, homey, traditional environment. There are no non-Cordilleran dishes in their menu; a Cordilleran diner would likely notice that the dishes are of Ibaloi cuisine. Some of their offerings are featured below.

This table appendage confounds diners of its purpose; been there myself (LOL). Oh, I won’t divulge the secret behind this seemingly nonsensical portion of this certain table. Ask them when you get there and you will learn a bit about the Cordilleran architecture.

Update: the knob has been stolen by some restaurant client.


Ba-o

Coconut shells are traditionally used by Cordillerans in many ways. One of its use is seen in their dining table as soup bowls. An advantage of this over its plastic, ceramic, or metal counterpart is that when you hold it you will never get burned when the content is hot.


The foods…

So, let Farmer’s Daughter introduce you to some Cordilleran authentic foods. The following are but some of the entrees in their menu.

Kindot jen baboy

One of the basics in Cordillera in cooking meat is grilling. The word kindot came from Ibaloi term, meaning ‘grilled’; thus, kindot jen baboy is grilled pork (image below courtesy of Farmer’s Daughter Facebook Page).


Pinuneg

You should not miss this “bloody, yummy” Pinuneg when you order. A more popular cousin of this dish throughout the archipelago is the pork blood stew [dinuguan]. Unlike the dinuguan, pinuneg [blood sausage] ingredients are stuffed inside a cleaned large intestine of a pig, a technique also being practiced in Europe and many parts of the world (image below courtesy of Farmer’s Daughter Facebook Page).


To those who have never tried eating a raw watercress as a salad, this is a good place to try. The fresh watercress salad they offer is seasoned with herbs and spices.


Pising Tan Kinuday

It’s not you’re your typical lowland ginataang gabi, it is boiled taro stalks and leaves with bits of smoked pork meat.


Pak-pako

While some parts of the country only use fern as a decorative plant, some species are actually edible. Both Ilocanos and Cordillerans are knowledgeable of this and the term commonly used are pako, pak-pako, or pak-paku. This edible fern is commonly used as a side salad like how it is served in Farmer’s Daughter (image below courtesy of Farmer’s Daughter Facebook Page).


Kinuday

Kinuday is basically an Ibaloi etag (smoked meat) devoid of salt when processing. In a traditional Cordilleran home, wat-wat (large meat portions given during cañao) are usually pierced with an iron (bamboo or wood are also used), smoked above the traditional cooking fireplace for weeks to months (first image below courtesy of Farmer’s Daughter Facebook Page).


Mix-Mix (Tinadtad)

From its name alone, you know that this is a mix of the meats they are serving: kinuday, pinuneg, kindot, and innards (image below courtesy of Farmer’s Daughter Facebook Page).


There are more delicacies they offer such as Dinakdakan, Kindot Jen Bangus, ampalaya salad, Shanghai Kinuday lumpia, paytoy, and pita among others. They have also included cakes in the menu. The menu is quite pocket friendly. With its cheap prices, you get to taste unique Cordilleran delicacy in a homey, rustic environment. By the way, like in a western home, they use non-fat fresh milk in their brewed coffee.