Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Isdaan - Home of the Koipia

It was one of those impromptu road trips that hubby and I seem to do a bit often lately. After we purchased the new Fortuner, we are finding more and more excuses to "test" it by taking drives North and South. Well, hubby does all of the driving and I usually fall asleep as soon as we hit the highway, he he he.

One of the many impromptu trips that we took was to Gerona, Tarlac. Literally, we woke up one Saturday and said, we should drive up north today. After a frantic search on the web, hubby decided he would like to go to Isdaan Restaurant. Just for the heck of it. We were scheduled to drive up to Baguio that weekend but my brother's family got hit by the flu.

So off we went, right after breakfast. We drove via NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), which was a breeze after encountering death defying drivers in Quezon City and Balintawak. We exited somewhere in the SCTEX (I think it was the Tarlac exit) and proceeded to pass trough some towns in Tarlac. We reached our destination in just under two hours from our place. We made good time.

Isdaan is owned by the Barrio Fiesta Group. So their specialty is Filipino cuisine. Isdaan (Fishery in English) is a common stop-over for people driving futher up North, usually to Baguio. We arrive right before the lunch crowd. The place gets pretty packed so it's better to come early or late lunch to avoid the crowd.

Isdaan's dining areas are scattered around in "islands". Stand alone nipa huts are interspersed around the vicinity. The whole area is quite big, but due to the placement of the huts, Isdaan can only accommodate a few families at one time. Each table gives you a view of their pond filled with Koipia. This is our little island hut:

I named the fish there Koipia because the Koi have interbred with the Tilapia. The fishes are shaped like a tilapia, with thick bodies (as opposed to kois who have long elongated bodies), dull body orange color with black backs. The fish really look like huge Tilapia but with some orange patches.

Anyway, the Koipias are not exactly pretty but, it's fun feeding them with the free fish pellets that Isdaan provides.

Now, for the food, we had some typical Filipino dishes, as that is what the restaurant specializes. I am ashamed to say that we did not order healthy.

Despite my urging to order something less artery clogging, hubby ordered Chicharon Bulaklak and Inihaw na baboy. The Inihaw na Baboy was quite sweet and oily and decided to just take most of it it home. Not a hit, I won't order it again.

The Tinolang Tahong is fresh and quite nice, not too gingery. It is very similar to what you would cook at home.

What I liked the most was the Prawns with Coconut Milk cooked in Bamboo. This was perfectly cooked with just a tad of coconut milk, not too rich nor overpowering. The prawns were tender and fresh (hence, very easy to peel). The added attraction of course was cracking the bamboo open to get to the succulent prawns inside.

After a filling meal and two fresh coconuts, I decided to check out the place and take a few photos. Hubby was too busy digesting his meal at our hut and couldn't be bothered to take a leisurely walk under the scorching sun. Oh well....

Isdaan is filled with quirky and kitchy touches. You can even win a kilo of fish if you successfully carry and balance 2 buckets of fresh fish across their San Kilo Bridge (One KIlo Bridge in English). Didn't see anyone try though.

There's even a Taksiyapo wall (it's a bad word in Kapampangan) with words like "ex-wife", "boss", "co-worker"," neighbor" to name a few. Just buy one of their plates (or an old TV, whatever srikes your fancy, really) and hurl it at the wall. It's like anger management. So, intead of egging your neighbor's house, just throw plates on the Taksiapo wall and be done with it. (I don't guarantee the same satisfaction though, he he he)

Isdaan is a nice place for a stopover. I don't recommend it being your ultimate destination though. I didn't see place of interest in the surrounding areas. Isdaan is a nice diversion prior to your trip up North.

After lunch and the photos, hubby and I proceeded back to SCTEX and wondered what to do next. I had packed some overnight clothes and toiletries just in case we decided to sleep over somewhere.

We were actually contemplating wether we should go to Subic or not. We decided against it in the end. We've seem most of its attractions anyway and we were unprepared as to where to dine there. I have not read any exceptional reviews regarding Subic's dining selection.

Maybe next time, when we have more time. I'd like to see the dolphins again at Ocean Adventure.

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