Balaw-Balaw Restaurant, Angono, Rizal / © Owen Ballesteros/Two2Travel.com

Fried crickets and art at Angono’s Balaw Balaw Restaurant

A plateful of art with a dash of exotic—at Balaw Balaw Restaurant alone in Angono, Rizal, it’s easy to understand why this little town is called the Art Capital of the Philippines.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant



It was a busy day—a Sunday—and a festival was underway in Angono. Like its streets we passed by earlier, the restaurant was also full to the brim with weekend tourists, most of whom probably coming from Metro Manila, which is a quick hour’s drive away.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

We were at Balaw Balaw to eat, but the place didn’t look like the regular drab cafe nor the swanky chandelier-laden restaurant with the gold cutlery.

Instead, it had a mishmash of wooden sculptures, paintings, and other adornments, some three inches while others way past the average human height.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

There were knicknacks hanging on neat rows from the ceiling—lots of them. The dining area surrounds an open space with even more sculptures, and underneath was a manmade pond. The restaurant struck us as an organized chaos of art.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

But the real showcase is located a floor above the main dining hall. The second floor housed a gallery of even more wooden sculptures with religious and vernacular themes.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

The fine craftsmanship that went into these elaborate pieces was nothing short of fascinating. And to find them all in one roof—hundreds of beautiful works from different artists all these years and across many generations—affirms Angono’s place in our country’s art scene. After all, it did produce two National Artists—Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco for Visual Arts and Maestro Lucio San Pedro for Music.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

Butts, Balls, and Soup No. 5

It turns out we would be dining at a private dining hall on the second floor—not easy to find considering how crowded the area was. This room was as lavishly decked with paintings as the whole property, and it had a long wooden table and a verandah with a staircase leading—we assumed—to the kitchen downstairs since that was where our waiter emerged carrying our food.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

And speaking of food, Balaw Balaw serves well-loved Pinoy staples, but it’s well known for its exotic menu.

Between Sizzling Butt and Balls (P235) and Soup No. 5 (P250), could anything be more exotic? By the way, these two go right into the top of their Exotic Dishes list.

For fans of balot, you can have your serving of this uniquely Pinoy food two ways: Sinabawan (P220) or Sizzling (cooked as adobo, P235).

Hold your horses—we’re not finished yet. Here are other, er, mouthwatering choices:

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Kamaro? The crickets were too small to make any impact on the taste—nothing gooey spurting in your mouth as your teeth cut through the fried flesh. No nothing. It tastes fried, that’s all, and if you don’t look at what you put into your mouth, you probably will finish the whole plate too.

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

TWO2TRAVEL | Rizal | Balaw Balaw Restaurant

Good thing there’s paella.

Soup No. 5? We didn’t try. We each assumed the other one tried so we each did not.

Nilasing na palaka—this isn’t nearly as exotic as Soup No. 5 or the Sizzling Balut. But for those who haven’t tasted, it tastes like chicken—which means it’s good.

Then again, everything tastes like chicken. :P

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant & Art Gallery

11 Don Justo
Dona Justa Village
Manila East Road
Angono, Rizal
651-0110

This post is the first of our Rizal series from the Rizal Blogger Tour sponsored by Thunderbird Resorts Rizal. Check out our other posts:
Stunning hilltop views and more at Thunderbird Resorts Rizal
Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs: The Philippines’ oldest work of art is in its art capitalPhoto Essay: Higantes Festival 2012

You may also check out CNN Travel’s video on where to eat in Manila on this link. It features Balaw Balaw restaurant (and some large eeeeky worms). :)

Two2Travel

Owen Ballesteros & Nikka Corsino are trigger-happy travelers from the Philippines. They both swear by the sharpness of Nikon and almost always carry a packet of instant coffee when traveling. Photography is their bread and butter, their passion, and sometimes the only thing that prevents them from killing each other. If you have offers of work, collaborations, or an endless supply of instant coffee, please drop them a message here.

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