Heirloom recipes with an Ilocano twist: Buena Komida de Paoay’s culinary offerings

Ilocos Norte is renowned not only for its natural beauty and cultural landmarks, but also for its local cuisine served in various food establishments that entice both tourists and balikbayans to return.

Among these establishments is the newly-opened “Buena Komida,” situated next to the St. Augustine Church in Jardin de Paoay, a UNESCO world heritage site.

A visit to Buena Komida, named after the Spanish phrase “Buena Comida” or good food, is akin to a nostalgic journey because it offers heirloom recipes infused with an Ilocano twist.

The owners, Dr. Norman and Dr. Lilibeth Rabago, shared that each dish on their menu has a story behind it, as they are all cherished family recipes they love and enjoy.

Dr. Lilibeth is fond of baking, while Dr. Norman has been passionate about cooking even before they became doctors. Some of Norman’s signature dishes, such as Paella Ilocana with shrimps, tukmem (clams), bagnet (crispy pork), Ilocos garlic, Pan de Callos with tender tripe, spicy chorizo, and garbanzo beans, and pochero, a blend of pork belly and Ilocano longganisa, are now available at the restaurant.

Catholic Church historian Rev. Fr. Danny Laeda said the birth of Buena Komida de Paoay speaks volumes about the significant impact of Spain on the language and cuisine of the Philippines.

The Rabagos’ main goal in establishing their food business is to assist in job creation and promote Paoay’s tourism while preserving and sharing their family heirloom recipes. Additionally, the couple pledged to contribute a portion of their profits to seminarians. (PNA)