travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar: Food, Ambiance, Collection and a Serving of Pinakbet Pizza

April 12, 2011

After filing a leave and getting “happy trip” messages from my coworkers, a friend from the office told me not to leave Ilocos without trying the Pinakbet Pizza. There were only less than 24 hours left to us, and we still have a lot to see and do, and trying the Pinakbet Pizza is in my priority list.

We saw a signage somewhere on our way to Paoay – a restaurant offering Pinakbet Pizza. It is in Herencia, but we were checked in in Laoag. Thanks to free wifi, and travel blogs, seach results told me that Saramsam Cafe is serving the famous Pinakbet Pizza.

From Saramsam Cafe:

Saramsam is an Iluko word, which means informal and constant dining, with connotations of a fun atmosphere of friends getting together to eat. The Restaurant is furnished with an eclectic mix of furniture and decor, which complement each other to exude a bohemian atmosphere.

More than just the style of the interior, Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant has gained a certain amount of notoriety for breaking the rules in the preparation of Ilocano dishes.

How to get there?

From our hotel in Laoag, we rode a tricycle and just told the driver – Saramsam Cafe. In 5 minutes, we were dropped off in this quiet little restaurant right at the corner of J. P. Rizal and Gen Giron St. It’s a cafe restaurant owned by Mr. Sammy (the same owner of Balay Da Blas). It is just near the La Preciosa Restaurant.

When I step foot inside the restaurant, I fell inloved. Aside from love for pop culture, I have a thing for anything vintage. I got my camera, and for a second, I don’t know where to point and shoot – tables? chairs? displays? lightings?

It’s like a museum of old stuff and vintage items. I found out from one of the staff that the items are personal collection of the owner.

I love the idea of setting a table with different styles of chairs. The best is the old SINGER sewing machine transformed into a table (the same table they have in Grand Pa’s Inn).

Let’s Check the Menu:

First thing to order is the Pinakbet Pizza (Php175 for 8″). After a few minutes of food photography, it’s time to get a slice and lay the judgement. I love the fact that it is crispy yet chewy (I am guessing they used tortilla flour). It does taste like pinakbet but the cheese made all the difference. Add bagoong sauce for the real kick (careful as it is salty).

Next, Saramsam Pasta (Php120) (of course, we wanted to try the bestsellers and house specialties!) The pasta is good and just perfect with the pizza. Who would have thought we can mix mangoes in a pasta dish? A good break for the usual red spaghetti sauce.

The bread though tasted like Star Margarine. 😀

The iced tea is just perfect too. It reminds me of Cofee Bean and Tea Leaf’s Iced Tea selection. It taste like herb, like a real tea, and not the commercialized type. (Php40 per glass).

We asked for a glass of water, and it is served in this nice green bottle. Wow, small details really count!

Total Bill: Php413. Save to prepare Php200 for each person. I have bought a bottle of Moscovado Sugar at Php38. They also sell strong Ilocano vinegar. It is not just a cafe but a store too. I also saw some nice shirts and fan sold inside the cafe.


The speed is acceptable. Nothing exceptional, except that they allowed me to lie down in the  long seater while I relax and released a few more burps.

Crowd: Family, lovers, friends.

Dresscode: Come as you are! I tried to sport the look of vintage yet chic tourist. Hehe. I wore a brown tube with knitted topper, and shorts. I am just too shy to post it here. So let’s not focus on my fashion style, but rather the cafe.

Accessibility: It is such a popular place (as there are only few nice restaurants in Laoag), so just hail a tricyle and tell the driver to bring you to the Saramsam Cafe. If you are driving a car, parking might be a problem. You may park infront of the cafe though.

Payment Options: They accepted my Mastercard, so I am guessing they would also accept Visa. I am not sure though if they accept Debit cards (most of the establishments do not).

Very reasonable for the type of food and dishes that they are offering.

Washroom: They’re sharing washroom with Saramsam Too (a club /videoke bar which opens at night and can hold functions). I was disappointed with the washroom. It reminds me of the next door carienderia’s CR, complete with pail and noisy faucet. Something that can still be improved, but at least it is clean.

Lowlights: See above; and the cafe doesn’t have a smoking area. The cafe was built almost eating all the available space before the national road. It would be nice if they have moved the door back a little and place chairs and tables outside as part of the al fresco – for those who might want to eat and smoke.

The Verdict?

I love the food and the ambiance! If a prince charming would ask me for a date in this restaurant, I wouldn’t mind travelling from Manila to Ilocos just to taste that Pinakbet Pizza again.

Here’s one last look before I publish this post.. Sorry if I am making you hungry.

Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar
N. Corpuz Building,
Rizal Street corner Hizon St.,
Barangay 7-A,
Laoag City

(077) 771 5825 or 0917 570 2110
[email protected] 

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