Many people think the restaurant has escargot as the main attraction. I thought the way the restaurant was named is very clever, and has very high recall – – – even for those who will hear it for the first time. ISKARGU is a play on the main dishes – – – ISda, KARne, and GUlay. The owner must have been inspired with the popularity of a genre of restaurants in Cebu called SUTUKIL which stood for the three ways of cooking fish. ISKARGU is more clever, because it can be mistaken, in a fun way, with the popular delicacy in France – – escargot, kuhol to us Pinoys.
More than the name, I consider this native restaurant the best stop on this side of Laguna. Excellent food turo-turo style, inexpensive, and a very unpretentious setting with wide windows that open to rice fields. Not unlike the more popular place that has huge fish images made of cement, huge this and huge that. But with very slow service I could die of hunger before my order is served. At ISKARGU, I pick mouth-watering dishes and I am served immediately. Rice is served on banana leaves. Ordering halo halo completes my experience.
Just yesterday, I had a group of 12 for lunch. We had 2 orders each of 6 different dishes including fish eggs (not caviar?), pinaputok na isda, kinilaw, etcetera etcetera. Our bill came up to only P200 each. And there was a singer to entertain us with old familiar music while enjoying our lunch.
Everyone from #FUNtastic Philippines Fun Group that joined the unplanned food trip showed happy faces – – – busog sa masarap at murang lunch. Our friend Bobby Taron took this group photo:
A quick edit to share how one in our group reacted upon seeing my blog on ISKARGU, only because he also loved the place. Here is Papa Jet of #FUNtasticPhilippines, in his own words:
” First time I ate here, and I just have to say that it’s definitely worth adding it to your travel itinerary to Laguna area — 22.6 km after Rizal Shrine in Calamba… on the way to Cavinti (Pagsanjan Falls), Lake Caliraya, Majayjay, Lucban, Mauban, Tayabas… definitely even worth it, just to go to IsKarGu just simply to have good food that you can be proud of, even with your foreigner visitors!!! You might even be mentioned by the real good singer, if she knows you’re from FUNtastic Philippines… ;)”
For visitors who want to bring something home, their counter features many interesting “take home” items – – – pastillas, native wine including lambanog, apple cider vinagar, turmeric, pinakurat vinegar, bottled guyabano end items I don’t see in pasalubong centers.
When I left the place, I saw a poster inviting regulars (and their guests, I think) to a buffet for P299 featuring 30 different dishes. I do not think anyone can get a better deal than that.
I just checked their social media page, and I am sharing the link in case readers want to discover ISKARGU and get to know the place even more prior to a visit.
It is worth the travel. In fact, we did not have to go anywhere around there. My friends and I just thought we wanted a good lunch out of town, and so we went. Maybe it is time for wanderlusts and foodies to just go, not having to find any reason or excuse. The foof trip is reason enough.
By the way, at the wall outside were photos of many personalities who have enjoyed ISKARGU. Government officials, movie and television personalities, some prominent businessmen. I figure this is the best endorsement they can ever get – – celebrity diners who opted for best value.