Johnny Moon, the name somehow sounds both strange and familiar. I instinctively recognize that I know it, but like a word stuck on the tip of one’s tongue, the knowledge somehow escapes me.
Passing through an old camalig-turned-museum, the Lakbay Norte team converged on an open dome structure encompassing a courtyard filled with curious café’s and little boutiques. The night led us to Laoag and we’re gonna eat in Laoag! Our restaurant of choice, the enigmatic Johnny Moon Café.
The interior of the café was quirky; larger than life funky wall murals contrasts with the dull color of its bricked columns and the modernity of their ceiling’s exposed steel beams. A Chandelier floats above as we seated ourselves in their eclectic mix of furniture. Although the design shouts expensive and high end, the atmosphere seemed bohemian and fun.
I studied the murals, seeing mustaches and mustaches and mustaches paired with Philippine heroes of yore. The restaurant’s logo has a mustache, the waiters have mustaches and they all wear tall black hats. And then it snapped; Johnny Moon. Juan Luna. Can I be more slow? The pride of Ilocanos; Juan Luna the hero, Juan Luna the painter. Everything’s dedicated to the man who created the colossal masterpiece that is the Spoliarium.
With the name solved, it was time to get down to business. The first order of the night was appetizers; Saniata or Dragon Fruit Rolls. I’m really not familiar with Dragon Fruits, and it is apparently something that’s only been recently introduced in the country and it looks like a flaming ball of fire and has a sour taste. I love spring rolls of every kind, so even though the dish tasted a bit on the bland side, I still digged it.
Next on the list was their Crispy Dinuguan with Higado on the sides. This dish, I totally love! Complimented with the crunchy pork bits, the dinuguan’s (blood pudding) consistency and flavor was right on the money, a perfect mix of sour, saltiness and crunch. The Higado went well as an aftertaste remover. I wish they served a larger portion of the dinuguan however as I was left wanting more.
A colorful stack of chicharon flakes and tupigs were next. The chicharon was fun and tasty but I dig the tupig more. The combination of its sweet biko-burnt banana leaf taste with the chocolate dressing was interestingly yummy. An excellent way to end our dinner.
The meals at Johnny Moon Café are surprisingly affordable at average of Php150.00 per person. Considering its nice ambience, finely mustached staff and excellently quirky dishes, I wholeheartedly (with mustache twinging) recommend it for anyone passing by Laoag City.
Johnny Moon Cafe
La Tabacalera Ilocano Lifestyle Center
Llanes cor. Gen. Luna, Laoag City,
Open Everyday from 8AM to 11PM
GPS Coordinates: 18.196739,120.592332 | Click to view location on Google Maps
LAKBAY NORTE IS AN ANNUAL MEDIA FAMILIARIZATION TOUR AROUND NORTH LUZON
ORGANIZED BY NORTH PHILIPPINES VISITORS BUREAU