Balaw Balaw is synonymous with native Philippine cuisine, exotic food and arts. I had a lesson in Arts when we visited this quaint place located in the heart of Angono. I could not express my delight in finding so many paintings on different subjects displayed in their three-storey gallery. I am ignorant when it comes to such a medium but I can admire a beautiful painting and a lovely wood carving.
Angono, Rizal is known as the Art Capital of the Philippines. It is the hometown of the famous artist Botong Francisco. Balaw Balaw started as a “tambayan” of sort by the owner, the late Perdigon Vocalan with his artists friends. It is now being managed by his wife. One of the waiters who served us is also an artist and his artworks are displayed at the second floor of the old building.
First thing you’ll see before entering the restaurant are these large busts. It was quite a little eerie seeing so many mascots hanging at the ceiling of the ground floor but the garden/pond in the middle of the restaurant is a welcome site. You could listen to old familiar music, think kundiman and Tagalog songs which you may not have heard of for the last decade or two.They do offer exotic dishes like kamaro (cricket), frog legs, adobo or fried, fried itik, and the one which they call Uok, an edible worm found inside coconut trees. We were not brave enough to try one. No exotic food please!
Minaluto is the specialty of the house. a big “bilao” consists of steamed rice, mussels, prawns, crab, water spinach, fried pork, salted red egg, tomatoes, eggplant and gambo. It’s a complete meal in itself, a typical dish that you would find in any Filipino household specially during fiestas and other occasions so dear to us. Wow, this is what I like best, Sinigang na Kanduli sa Bayabas. I like any kind of sinigang mixed with bayabas. It reminds me of those days way back in the province when my three brothers and I used to climb guava trees to pick those ripe fruits for Mom’s kitchen. I love their Kare-Kareng Baka, beef chunks stewed in peanut sauce, vegetables and shrimp pastes. Balaw balaw simply means shrimp pastes mixed with gruel and angkak, a food coloring to make it a little pinkish.
My son tried the Gayuma. It’s made of coconut milk with gulaman (gelatin) cooked in pandan. I settled for the safest drinks, buko juice (young coconut juice) and plain water.
We enjoyed going to the art gallery after our hearty lunch. What a sight, it was full of art collections and wood carvings.
Your visit to Angono would not be complete without dropping by this place. This is not just an art gallery, but a museum of sort.