|Pancit Palabok by New Iona's Refreshment Parlor|
|A shot of lambanog|
Quezon Province's fast-developing town of Infanta is known as the gateway to the Pacific Ocean because it's where most travelers bound for the coast's natural attractions take a long stopover after travelling from different locations in mainland Luzon. Before hitting the travel route again for Polillo, Panukulan, Burdeos, Patnanungan Island or Jomalig Island, the town is where they eat a hefty meal. Adventurers bound for the exotic coast of General Nakar also choose to spend a few hours here. It's only reasonable that eateries in this part of the province are accessible when they're needed.
Infanta Lambanog. Locals who have migrated to Metro Manila actually have a steady supply of traditional treats in their kitchens since Infanta is just three hours away.
|St. Mark Parish Church of Infanta|
|Where lambanog is sourced|
|The dining area of New Iona's Refreshment Parlor|
|Halo-halo by New Iona's Refreshment Parlor|
|Pancit Mami by New Iona's Refreshment Parlor|
Must-try: Halo-halo, Palabok, and Pancit Mami
Long before there was tourism in Infanta, Iona's has been around. Located across the town's old Catholic church, it was just a simple eatery that opened in 1977 to serve immediate residents. Since the Infanta-Real-Famy Road was still in bad shape as a Sierra Madre dirt road at that time, families needed a venue to hold intimate revelries. Thanks to the lone eatery that was Iona's, locals were able to celebrate different special occasions like graduation, town fiesta or birthdays with enough pomp like a serving of halo-halo or a plate of palabok. The place has been a Sunday tradition as well after church mass when families would eat something fancy instead of home-cooked meals.
|New Iona's Refreshment Parlor is located across the old Catholic church.|
Today, locals still flock to the restaurant for the reliable taste of its halo-halo and palabok even with the presence of new commercial stores that serve similar treats in the area. There really isn't anything unusual about the halo-halo except for its balanced flavor. It's neither overwhelming nor disappointing for a dessert. It's probably close to the neighborhood version that we all grew up liking as kids. As for the palabok, it's unlike the typical bihon format and the delicious secret is in the extra-creamy sauce and generous add-on of crushed chicharon.
|Lumpiang Ubod by Froi's Lutong Pinoy|
|Preparing the fresh Lumpiang Ubod is as fast as less than a minute|
Must-try: Lumpiang Ubod
If you're looking for something cheap to save cost for your island-hopping in the Polillo Group of Islands or hiking adventure to General Nakar, you can also try a savory serving of lumpiang ubod or fresh vegetable egg roll at Froi's Lutong Pinoy. The eatery can be found at the second floor of the town's public market.
|Froi's Lutong Pinoy at the public market|
"...try a savory serving of lumpiang ubod or fresh vegetable egg roll at Froi's Lutong Pinoy."
It's a filling alternative to seafood, pork or beef dishes that can be pricey to anyone on a tight budget. It's also fast to prepare so you can order one and have it in less than a minute for dine-in or take-out.
The store also serves home-cooked viands as part of its menu options.
|(left) Binagkat; (top right) Pasingaw; (bottom right) Sinantol|
|(top left) Bulinaw or anchovies; (bottom left) Infanta Public Market; (right) A market butcher|
Must-try: Sinantol, Pasingaw, and Binagkat
Most tour guides of island-hopping tours in the area get their supplies from the Infanta Public Market because they're cheap, fresh, and in a hefty variety of options. It's also where they recommend tourists to get a sampling of local fare.
|Galyang or large gabi for Binagkat|
"Highly recommended is Sinantol, an exotic dish that's a blend of the rind of a santol..."
Pasingaw is a steamed delicacy that locals love to have as a snack at odd hours of the day because it's quite filling like kalamay. If anything, it keeps the hunger pangs away for hours which makes it nifty to have in one's kitchen. A lot of residents recommend it to tourists to include in their loot of pasalubong treats.
Another snack that's of a sweet kind that's available at the public market is Binagkat, a delicacy that originated in Polillo. A serving is made from the root crop called galyang or a large type of gabi that's usually found near a stream or spring. Before it's cooked in gata or coconut milk, the root crop is traditionally whipped against a hard object to bring out its flavor. It's considered by locals as a healthy alternative to bread or desserts.
|Lambanog is also sourced from sasa or nipa palm that grows next to rivers|
|Infanta Lambanog, distributed in the US (Photo by InfantaLambanog.com)|