Balaw-balaw: where folk art and folk food meet

If you haven’t heard of Balaw-balaw Restaurant, you might want to Google the name and search for videos of a Bizarre Foods episode aired a couple of years ago. Balaw-balaw is famous for its adobong uok (the larvae of a beetle that are as large as gold balls) and fried crickets. Sam needed to take photos for a school assignment (she’s taking up her bachelor’s degree in Photography) so I thought it would be a good idea to go to Balaw-balaw Restaurant in Angono, Rizal which is a mere twelve-to-fifteen-minute drive from our house. Famous for its exotic cuisine, the food should be great subjects for photography. Plus, I heard that the folk artsy decor in the restaurant is photogenic as well. So, off we drove to Angono.

We wanted the crickets for starters but they were unavailable. We were too chicken to order the adobong uok so I chose the Crispy Walkman instead — fried pork ears served with a variety of dipping sauces. Super tender pork ears, I should say, because apparently the pork ears were first boiled then chopped before they were deep fried to a crisp. While the outside were wonderfully browned and crisp, the insides were almost gelatinous. Walkman might be a little outdated so, perhaps, the Balaw-balaw people should consider re-naming this fabulous dish Crispy iPod.

For our soup, we had mussels. Lots of ginger and lots of greens. One of those soups that are so humble and unassuming but the moment you taste the broth, you’re hooked. Served in a claypot, the soup was simply delicious.

For our vegetable dish, the waiter recommended the puso ng saging (banana blossoms). Tasty and well cooked but I found it a bit too oily.

We also had the crispy butterflied dalag (mudfish) which was very well cooked.

For the exotic touch, I ordered a plate of sizzling cow butt and balls. Yes, balls as in testicles. This dish had two textures as the butt and balls were very different from each other. One was soft with a powdery sensation in the mouth — a bit like marshmallows but minus the sweetness. The other was very gamey with a texture similar to litid (ligaments) which could have been melt-in-the-mouth gelatinous had it been cooked longer. Which had what texture, I am not sure.

It was quite a spread that we had for lunch and there were only three of us. Had Alex decided to come with us (she was too sleepy), the food would have been just right. As it turned out, I think I ordered too much because we felt so very, very full.

You can’t visit Balaw-balaw without noticing the decor.

There are masks everywhere each bearing signatures of guests who have dined at the restaurant over the years.

The tables are adorned by interesting figures that serve as flower vases.

At the far end of the dining area is a pond…

… and next to the pond, a sitting area with a high wide wall on one side were clippings of newspaper articles about Balaw-balaw are displayed.

If that’s not enough feast for the eyes, there is a museum on the second floor too — drop dead gorgeous wood carvings galore!

And how are the prices? Well, you’ve seen what we ate. The bill was P1,140.00. Not inexpensive but definitely not that pricey either.

Worth visiting again? Certainly.

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