By Stella Estremera
Goin' Places

IT OPENED as a take-out counter for ngo hiong, a deep-fried to a crisp lumpia, but now comes with a kubo for dine-in visitors. That was when we finally ventured in.

Ngoyong Haus along Vinzons Street (just behind Gaisano Mall in front of Gabbie's) serves... ngo hiong! But, the even more delicious find was their Balamban Liempo.

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Balamban Liempo sounded foreign to me, and so I asked the waiter what made it different from all the other liempos. He said it has lots of herbs. Hmmm...

Since the group was originally composed of Deng and Trisha, it needed no second prodding to zoom in on it. We love pork. *Grin!* Imee and Charmaine were a surprise addition. Such a big surprise because they arrived even before Trish and Deng did, and just a few minutes after I have chosen our table. That was after just one text telling them that I was to meet up with Trish and Deng at Ngoyong Haus for dinner.

It turned out, the two were on their way for dinner somewhere nearby and decided to eat ngo hiong instead.

For one, Charmaine had been raving about it. She ate ten, she said, when she first tried them. Ehem. Ten ngo hiongs. Impressive.

Ngo hiong, for those who are familiar with this crispy lumpia, is not complete without the very hot sauce. And true enough, Ngoyong Haus serves it with that. Still, I say, the Balamban Liempo wins, hands down.

The waiter was right, it was liempo with a lot, like really lots, of herbs.

It was explained that it's a recipe from Balamban, Cebu. That explains the name.

We also got the regular ngoyong (at P6 per piece) and chicken ngoyong (P40 per piece), made of deep-fried chicken wrapped in crispy ngoyong batter.

We were off to a good start, savoring the pork and the crisp lumpia, until the conversation turned to invasive and non-invasive operations for vanity purposes. This made my pork-craving, ngo hiong-curious appetite immediately clams up and my tummy churn.

It turned out that my other dinner companions were likewise sidelined by the turn of the conversation such that we were just able to eat a little each. Still… our orders of ngo hiong and liempo disappeared. Huh?

If Imee wasn't able to eat much, and so did Trish, and Deng... where did all our ngo hiongs (around twenty of them I think) go?

The suspect: Charm and her being used to talks about needles even while eating. Ugh! Give me a non-doctor for dinner company, please! (And no, we were not the ones talking about botox and the less invasive alternatives. Ugh!).

Now, you should have seen how Trish tried to make a hasty exit, leaving her things behind. Haha! So much for French leaves...

Still... and I repeat, the Balamban Liempo is worth a try.