Whenever I travel, I make it a point that I would at least try one of their specialty dishes. As long as it’s not exotic food, I will make sure that I will try it. That’s why when I first travel to Ilocos (you can check my photo album here), I tried their famous bagnet, igado and empanada. Although I didn’t really enjoyed the empanada, at least I can say that I’ve tasted it.
But that was last 2009. And I got too busy with my life that I didn’t get the chance to travel again at Ilocos. That’s why when I was asked if I want to try the new Ilocano-inspired diner in Quezon City, being a food blogger myself, of course I took the challenge. Hahahaha! I was joined by fellow foodies Flow Galindez, Omar Itay, Gabriel Diaz, Juan Manila, Ferdie Bondoy, Joy Wong and Denise Calnea. Thank you also to Marnie Lapus a.k.a. Ur Hotness for organizing this food event for us. :-D
For first timer like me, EMPANADA NATION is located at #26 Sgt. Esguerra Avenue. In between JT’s Manukan and N20 Bar. and in front of Chocolat. It opens from 8:00 AM and closes to 10:00 PM from Mondays to Sundays.
Empana Nation is owned by O’Brien Pangan, Venice Marie Velasco and Juan Carlos Gil. I guess it was easy for them to conceptualize this business because they have Ilocano roots to begin with. Their first branch opened in Roses Avenue corner Scout Tuazon in Quezon City, followed by their 2nd branch at Pearl Drive in Ortigas. Their 3rd branch is at Sgt. Esquerra Street where we did the food tasting.
The nice thing about Empanada Nation is that all their products especially the longanisa and bagnet are delivered from Laoag City in Ilocos Norte to give their customers that authentic Ilocano delicacies.
Here’s a video I took with Venice Marie Velasco talking about the history of Empanada Nation and their specialties:
Poqui Poqui – yes, you read it right. And I’m pretty sure you are smiling while reading that. Poqui Poqui is actually sautÃ©ed eggplant with onion, tomato and egg. I can’t say anything about this dish because I don’t eat eggplant. But my friends ate all of it so I’m pretty sure it’s good enough.
King’s Meal – Empanada Nation’s compete bagnet and longanisa meal for big eater like me. For only Php140, you’ll get a good portion of bagnet (fried pork belly), longanisa, half salted egg, KBL (kamatis (tomato), bagoong (shrimp paste) and lasong or small onion) and unlimited rice. How’s that for good value to your hungry appetite?
Igado is one of my favorite Ilocano dish. This one is a mixture of pork meat and pork liver.
Pinakbet - I think Iloconas are also known for vegetable dishes. I never liked Pinakbet because of its main ingredients: string beans, eggplant and ampalaya. But I do eat tomatoes and okra and pork and bagoong, so I took that out and eat it. Sorry, I think I already mentioned that I am not much of a veggie eater.
Sarabasab is like Igodo except it has grilled pork meat and liver and served with tomatoes and onion with vinegar. It’s like eating Tokwa’t Baboy without the Tofu.
Crispy Bagis – I super love this. To make it simpler, this is actually chicharon bituka (deep fried pork intestine). It has the right amount of saltness. Though some preferred it dipped in spicy sukang Ilocos (vinegar), I like mine as is. This is what I am surely order the next time I visit Empanada Nation. They serve this as appetizer. But for me, it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner! ;-)
Your Ilocos experience wouldnt be complete if you don’t get to try their Empanada. And that’s what make Empanada Nation special because if you think it’s just spicy and/or garlicky longganisa and egg, you’re wrong. Because they also offer a vegan empanada for a whopping Php35 only! Their best seller, the special empanada, however, cost Php50. It’s still a good buy if you ask me. Because not only it comes cheap, but it can actually fill your tummy!
One thing I loved about their empanada is that they accept special request. Like in my case, I am not fond of vegetables, so I opted for more egg and meat instead. And they happily obliged. And that makes me one happy customer. :-D
To see my full photo coverage of our Bloggers event, please click here.
To conclude this blog post, the best thing about Empanada Nation is that you don’t need to travel long hours to Ilocos Norte just to satisfy your craving for authentic empanada, bagnet and longanisa. And I am planning to visit them soon because I heard they are now serving Fried Dinuguan! Wow!