Once we say Zamboanga Metropolis is colourful, we’re not simply referring to the color-blocked sail of the vinta or the rosy glow of Santa Cruz Grande Island’s Pink Seashore. The vividness of Asia’s Latin Metropolis goes past what the eyes can see. Its intricate historical past as a settlement and kaleidoscopic mixture of cultures are finest skilled by way of one other basic sense — the sense of style.
Zamboanga Metropolis is considered one of our most-loved meals locations for the sheer vary and variety of what it could possibly convey to the (eating) desk. From the saucy red-orange sticks of satti to the motley flavors of knickerbocker, listed below are a few of Zamboanga’s most sought-after culinary delights and the place to seek out them.
WHAT’S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Ever heard of curacha?
If it sounds acquainted, it’s most likely as a result of it reminds you of La Cucaracha, a Mexican folks tune a couple of cockroach that additionally grew to become fairly common within the Philippines. Curacha (in Chavacano) and cucaracha (in Spanish) imply the identical — cockroach. And it’s no shock on condition that Chavacano, Zamboanga’s dominant language, is a Spanish-based Creole.
However earlier than you lose your urge for food, know that we’re not going to ask you to go full Concern Think about Zamboanga. As an alternative, we’re inviting you to have a style of essentially the most mouth-watering crustaceans that the area has to supply — spanner crabs!
Curacha acquired its title due to its spiky, bushy look that kinda resembles you-know-what. However in the event you look carefully, it kinda seems just like the love youngster of a large crab and an extended lobster. And since it packs extra meat and extra taste than the crabs we’re used to, they’re wanted. Fortunately, they thrive within the waters surrounding the area.
For a lot of, one of the best place to have a style of curacha is Alavar Seafood Restaurant, which serves curacha cooked in and doused with its well-known specialty sauce, which is constituted of coconut milk, aligue (crab roe paste) and varied spices. This tremendous wealthy sauce mixed with the seafood umami bombs which are curacha, you’ll by no means style different crab dishes the identical method once more.
However be warned: It’s not low-cost. You may order curacha by the kilo (minimal 1 kg). The final time we dined right here, a kilo of it in alavar sauce prices P1500 to P1700, relying on the scale of the crabs.
The sauce alone is unforgettable. It’s so common that vacationers drop by Alavar on the way in which to the airport to take house frozen packs of it.
Alavar Seafood Restaurant
Handle: 173 Don Alfaro St, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working Hours: Monday-Tuesday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm;
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm;
Friday, Sunday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Specialty: Curacha in Alavar Sauce
However in the event you’d relatively take house freshly caught curacha, head over to Aderes Flea Market in Guiwan. You should buy raw curacha at a lower cost right here, together with lobsters and different seafood.
How acquainted are you with Moro dishes? A bit bit? Not fairly? In no way?
For those who dwell in Metro Manila or close by areas, you most likely haven’t tried it. (Or in my case earlier than my Zamboanga journey, not even heard of it.) We’re used to dishes from Luzon and Visayas. Many people are much more acquainted with international fare. So when in Zamboanga, have a style of Moro delicacies!
Greater than a 3rd of Zamboanga Metropolis’s inhabitants observe Islam. The Moros, Filipino Muslims, have developed a meals tradition that’s fascinatingly completely different from different areas. Whereas garlic, onions and ginger stay frequent components, the Moros wish to additionally use spices like galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and turmeric, that are extra typical in our maritime Southeast Asian neighbors.
You’ll additionally discover that the Tausugs love utilizing coconut milk and — get this — burnt or charred coconut, which supplies lots of its dishes its black look. It does look a little bit bit intimidating at first look, however belief me, it’s tremendous scrumptious. It doesn’t style burnt in any respect, nevertheless it offers depth and complexity to its style that’s fairly exhausting to explain. You’ve gotta style it your self.
In Zamboanga Metropolis, essentially the most handy place for vacationers to pattern Moro dishes is Bay Tal Mal. It’s as a result of they serve latal (P749), which is a platter of varied Tausug dishes together with the next:
- Tiyulah itum (tiyula itum or tiulah itum, actually “black soup”), beef in black broth made with burnt coconut and spices.
- Beef kulma, beef cubes stewed in a curry sauce.
- Piyassak, beef liver cubes cooked with pounded spices, charred coconut and coconut milk
- Rooster piyanggang, hen marinated in burnt coconut and varied spices after which grilled.
- Rooster kiyaliya, hen stewed in coconut milk with lemongrass, turmeric, ginger and different spices.
- Beef adobo
- Fried fish
- Fried shrimp or squid
- Kiyaliya kapaya, papaya; or cucumber sambal (the sambal is so fab delish!)
Though not on the menu, I believe one of many dishes on our platter was utak-utak (fried fish cake).
You may take pleasure in this platter of delicacies with rice. However we often add a plate of mee goreng (P189), which is served with exhausting boiled egg. We simply love mie goreng so we order it each time we spot it on the menu. (LOL.) However they’ve much more gadgets on its menu.
Once I tried it for the primary time, Bay Tal Mal was nonetheless positioned alongside Mayor Jaldon Road. Nevertheless it has since moved to the 4th stage of SM Mindpro.
Bay Tal Mal Restaurant
Handle: 4th ground, SM Mindpro, La Purisima St, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10am-8pm; Friday-Sunday, 10am-9pm
Specialty: Latal (platter of Tausug dishes)
One other restaurant that serves this Tausug tray of goodness is Dennis Espresso Backyard, located close to the airport. Right here, they name it dulang (P950), nevertheless it’s principally the identical. However whereas Bay Tal Mal’s platter has 10 completely different dishes, Dennis’s has six.
Talking of Dennis Espresso Backyard…
Dennis Espresso Backyard‘s roots may be traced again all the way in which to 1962 Jolo, Sulu, the place a small cafe referred to as Omar’s Place was established. Sixty years later, the title has modified and a number of branches have sprouted together with this one in Zamboanga Metropolis.
We already talked about the dulang or latal that they serve right here. However it’s extra well-known for one thing else — you guessed it — COFFEE! Dennis Espresso Backyard takes pleasure of their genuine espresso referred to as the kahawa sug, which may be served scorching or iced. It’s extra on the sturdy finish of the spectrum, so in the event you favor daring espresso, this may very well be for you! The iced model, nonetheless, is served with milk.
Other than Sulu espresso, it is usually common for his or her bangbang sug or native Tausug pastries. We labored up an urge for food earlier that day so we determined to order the entire gadgets on their snack menu! Moreover, we actually needed to strive all of them! Every merchandise prices P65.
- Jualan saing, deep-fried bananas with sweetened coconut dip (consider it as a deconstructed banana que)
- Jualan panggih, deep-fried candy potatoes with sweetened coconut dip (form of a deconstructed camote que)
- Daral, crepe with candy filling fabricated from coconut (filling tastes like bukayo)
- Panggih-panggih, deep-fried flour rings
- Wadjit, glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk (unavailable throughout our go to)
- Pitis, glutinous rice flour muffins with coconut filling, wrapped in banana leaves
- Patulakan, punded rice with milk and grated coconut, wrapped in banana leaves
- Biyaki, grated candy corn muffins, wrapped in corn husks then steamed
We additionally ordered pastil, which has similarities to empanada with togue filling and served with a candy and spicy sauce. (We additionally tried pastil in Tawi-tawi nevertheless it had bihon noodles as filling.)
Out of all of this, we loved jualan saing, daral, biyaki and panggih-panggih essentially the most!
Dennis Espresso Backyard
Handle: San Jose Street, Baliwasan, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working hours: Each day 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Specialty: kahawa sug (Sulu espresso) and Tausug pastries
As we explored Zamboanga Metropolis, we couldn’t assist however discover that lots of institutions serve so-called satti. We even noticed quite a few regular-looking homes with indicators that learn, “We serve satti”. It acquired us extremely curious! Satti seems like satay (hen satay, beef satay), so I had my concepts on what it may very well be. However many satti signages had illustrations of bowls, not sticks of meat, which confused us at first.
Effectively, nicely, it turned out that satti is certainly just like satay (grilled skewered meat). However on this a part of the world, it’s often served half-dipped in a bowl of red-orange spicy sauce with cubes of molded rice. And to my shock, that is really a breakfast favourite! Nothing beats a spicy kick to start out the day!
Once we requested the locals (principally tricycle drivers) for one of the best satti place within the metropolis, all fingers pointed at Jimmy’s Satti Haus. Sadly, as a consequence of time constraints, we didn’t pay a go to. Too dangerous!
(That stated, we had been in a position to strive satti at Dennis Espresso Backyard! I’m a sucker for something grilled and spicy, so it was love at first chunk for me. I nonetheless want I acquired to strive Jimmy’s although. However I assume this provides me a motive to return to Zamboanga!)
Jimmy’s Satti Haus
Handle: Pilat Road, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working hours: 2:00 AM – 6:00 PM
For those who’re craving pork, you could be shocked to know that one space in Zamboanga has mastered the artwork of constructing lechon! Sure, entire pig roasted to perfection! Right here in Tetuan, lechon is offered at kiosks stationed alongside the highway. And there are many them right here!
I used to be fairly shocked to find out about it at first as a result of the town has a big Muslim inhabitants. Earlier than setting foot right here for the primary time, I initially (mistakenly) assumed that pork — a staple protein in Pinoy kitchens elsewhere — can be notably absent in most components of the town as a result of it’s forbidden in Islam. However there it was, a road lined with pork lechon stalls promoting kilo after kilo of suckling pig.
Once we requested locals for suggestions, one institution that was persistently talked about was Prince Tasty Lechon. They’ve a number of stalls all through the town, however we selected the one in Tetuan, only a quick stroll from Alavar.
Like others beside it, Prince is a small stall with a suckling pig on show as a workers member chops away. You may ask for a chunk of the crispy pores and skin to have a style. A kilo prices P550. You may as well order half a kilo, which is at P350. You may have it as a complete slab or have it chopped.
Tetuan lechon is commonly in comparison with Cebu’s extra well-known model. When you style it, it’s not obscure why. It’s simply so flavorful! The pores and skin is tremendous crispy however not exhausting; it breaks with the gentlest of bites. The meat is moist, juicy and tender. The mix of calamansi, garlic, onions, pepper, bay leaf and different herbs seeps so deep into the meat. We weren’t given any sauce. Unsure if it truly is eaten with out it or the workers simply forgot. However regardless, there’s no want for it.
Prince Tasty Lechon
Handle: Don Alfaro St., Tetuan, Zamboanga Metropolis
Open: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Thus far, we’ve already lined principally principal programs and heavy proteins. How about we transfer on to dessert?
Right here in Zamboanga Metropolis, no different dessert has reached the legendary standing of the knickerbocker. The what?
Knickerbocker! Consider it because the fruitier, more healthy stepsister of the halo-halo. This loopy colourful concoction is a mixture of jellies and recent fruits like watermelon, apple, pineapply and mango, drizzled with condensed milk and topped with shaved ice and strawberry ice cream. It’s vivid, candy, and creamy, excellent for laundry down no matter lunch or dinner you had.
Lately, you may take pleasure in a cup from distributors at Paseo del Mar, however in the event you’re after the unique, head over to Hacienda de Palmeras Lodge and Restaurant, extensively considered the institution that invented this tropical dessert. The restaurant is about in a backyard in a quiet nook of the town, however nonetheless simply accessible by jeepney or tricycle.
Hacienda de Palmeras Lodge and Restaurant
Handle: Pasonanca Street, Sta. Maria, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-10pm; Monday,Saturday 10am-8pm
Specialty: Seafood and knickerbocker
After all! Any TPT journey isn’t full with out pillaging the parks and again alleys for some good old school road meals! These on a regular basis accessible munchies inform quite a bit concerning the place, its folks, and its tradition. You’ll find road meals wherever, particularly in busy areas like the general public market and across the metropolis corridor.
Regular Pinoy faves like kikiam, fish balls and banana que can be found, however you’ll additionally discover one thing distinctive to the area. My favourite is chikalang. No, not chika lang. Chikalang! It’s a glutinous rice cake rolled in brown sugar. It’s similar to pilipit or karioka, solely larger, denser, heavier and really very purple.
It’s often among the many many gadgets on peddlers’ bilao. We had it at Paseo del Mar!
R.T. Lim Boulevard additionally hosts quite a few road meals distributors. A few of the road meals selections are satay or “ihaw-ihaw”, pastil, and lokot-lokot. You’ll additionally discover balut and penoy as quickly because the solar begins to set.
On our final go to, we observed locals promoting one thing in styrofoam containers. Curious, we approached one and requested what was inside. To our (pleasant) shock, it was mie goreng (P35)! It’s served with fried egg on high and a calamansi on the aspect, and drizzled with scorching sauce.
Coincidentally, we had been simply speaking about craving noodles simply moments earlier than so we didn’t even give it some thought! We additionally had a pleasant dialog with Kuya Jul, the vendor, as we stuffed our face with noodles.
It’s fully potential to strive all of the eating places and meals spots talked about above by yourself. In your itinerary, you may insert a lunch or dinner cease, whichever is closest to the world you’re exploring that day. (We’ll publish a pattern itinerary, so make sure to test again quickly.)
But when you want a extra insightful expertise, it’s possible you’ll be a part of a Meals and Tradition Tour, supplied by iTravel Vacationer Lane, led by Errold Bayona.
It was really Errold who launched to us these superb foodie locations years in the past. So once I lately returned to Zamboanga, I already knew the place to go to eat.
It’s possible you’ll contact them by way of any of the next:
We paid for the entire meals featured on this publish.
AirAsia flies each day to Zamboanga Metropolis from Manila and affords among the most budget-friendly fares. Every reserving comes with a complimentary 7kg carry-on baggage allowance.
For a worry-free and extra comfy journey, it’s also possible to add a Worth Pack, which incorporates 20kg check-in baggage allowance, normal choice, a meal, and Tune Shield insurance coverage (for bags delay & 1 hour on-time assure safety). In the meantime, their Premium Flex possibility lets you change the date and time of your flight as much as two instances.
For those who’re coming from Manila, AirAsia’s Zamboanga flights function from NAIA Terminal 4.
Disc: AirAsia lined our flights on our most up-to-date journey, so it wouldn’t have been potential with out them. So guide na kayo with them in the event you resolve to go to Zamboanga!
Now we have tried three completely different motels in Zamboanga and all of them had been respectable and nice:
When you’ve got an even bigger price range, you might also take a look at these different properties within the space:
Phrases by: Yosh Dimen
Photographs by: Yosh Dimen & Vins Carlos