7 Should-Strive ZAMBOANGA CITY Eating places & Meals Spots

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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 greatest skilled by way of one other elementary 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 may carry 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 in all probability as a result of it reminds you of La Cucaracha, a Mexican people music a few cockroach that additionally grew to become fairly widespread within the Philippines. Curacha (in Chavacano) and cucaracha (in Spanish) imply the identical — cockroach. And it’s no shock provided 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 Consider 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 Aderes Flea Market Guiwan Zamboanga

Curacha acquired its identify due to its spiky, furry look that kinda resembles you-know-what. However in case you look intently, it kinda seems just like the love youngster of a large crab and a protracted 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, the very 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 created from coconut milk, aligue (crab roe paste) and varied spices. This tremendous wealthy sauce mixed with the seafood umami bombs which might be curacha, you’ll by no means style different crab dishes the identical method once more.

Curacha with Alavar Sauce

Alavar Seafood Restaurant Zamboanga

However be warned: It’s not low cost. You possibly can 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 dimensions of the crabs.

The sauce alone is unforgettable. It’s so widespread that vacationers drop by Alavar on the way in which to the airport to take dwelling frozen packs of it.

Alavar Seafood Restaurant
Deal with: 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 case you’d slightly take dwelling 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.

Aderes Flea Market Guiwan Zamboanga City


How acquainted are you with Moro dishes? Somewhat bit? Not fairly? Under no circumstances?

When you reside in Metro Manila or close by areas, you in all probability 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 overseas fare. So when in Zamboanga, have a style of Moro delicacies!

Greater than a 3rd of Zamboanga Metropolis’s inhabitants follow Islam. The Moros, Filipino Muslims, have developed a meals tradition that’s fascinatingly totally different from different areas. Whereas garlic, onions and ginger stay frequent elements, the Moros wish to additionally use spices like galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and turmeric, that are extra regular in our maritime Southeast Asian neighbors.

Bay Tal Mal's Latal Moro Cuisine
Tiyulah itum on the middle, surrounded by (clockwise from the highest) cucumber sambal, piyassak, hen kiyaliya, utak-utak, beef adobo, fried fish, beef kulma, hen piyanggang, fried shrimps.

You’ll additionally discover that the Tausugs love utilizing coconut milk and — get this — burnt or charred coconut, which provides a lot of its dishes its black look. It does look just a little bit intimidating at first look, however belief me, it’s tremendous scrumptious. It doesn’t style burnt in any respect, nevertheless it gives depth and complexity to its style that’s fairly arduous 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 possibly can take pleasure in this platter of delicacies with rice. However we normally add a plate of mee goreng (P189), which is served with arduous boiled egg. We simply love mie goreng so we order it at any time when we spot it on the menu. (LOL.) However they’ve much more objects on its menu.

Mie goreng at Bay Tal Mal

Once I tried it for the primary time, Bay Tal Mal was nonetheless positioned alongside Mayor Jaldon Road. But it surely has since moved to the 4th degree of SM Mindpro.

Bay Tal Mal Restaurant
Deal with: 4th flooring, 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 mainly the identical. However whereas Bay Tal Mal’s platter has 10 totally different dishes, Dennis’s has six.

Talking of Dennis Espresso Backyard…


Dennis Espresso Backyard‘s roots might be traced again all the way in which to 1962 Jolo, Sulu, the place a small cafe known as Omar’s Place was established. Sixty years later, the identify has modified and a number of branches have sprouted together with this one in Zamboanga Metropolis.

Dennis Coffee Garden

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 satisfaction of their genuine espresso known as the kahawa sug, which might be served sizzling or iced. It’s extra on the sturdy finish of the spectrum, so in case you favor daring espresso, this may very well be for you! The iced model, nevertheless, is served with milk.

Dennis Coffee Garden Sulu Coffee
From left to proper: kahawa sug, iced espresso, and iced chocolate

Except for Sulu espresso, additionally it is widespread 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 all the objects on their snack menu! In addition to, we actually needed to attempt 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 (kind of a deconstructed camote que)
  • Daral, crepe with candy filling made 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
Biyaki at Dennis Coffee Garden
Biyaki
Panggih Panggih at Dennis Coffee Garden
Panggih Panggih

We additionally ordered pastil, which is analogous 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
Deal with: San Jose Highway, 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 numerous regular-looking homes with indicators that learn, “We serve satti”. It acquired us extremely curious! Satti feels 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.

Nicely, nicely, it turned out that satti is certainly just like satay (grilled skewered meat). However on this a part of the world, it’s normally 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 begin the day!

Satti in Zamboanga City

Once we requested the locals (principally tricycle drivers) for the very 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 have been in a position to attempt satti at Dennis Espresso Backyard! I’m a sucker for something grilled and spicy, so it was love at first chew for me. I nonetheless want I acquired to attempt Jimmy’s although. However I suppose this provides me a motive to return to Zamboanga!)

Jimmy’s Satti Haus
Deal with: Pilat Road, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working hours: 2:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Specialty: Satti


When you’re craving pork, you may be stunned to know that one space in Zamboanga has mastered the artwork of creating lechon! Sure, complete pig roasted to perfection! Right here in Tetuan, lechon is bought at kiosks stationed alongside the highway. And there are many them right here!

Prince Tetuan Lechon Zamboanga

I used to be fairly shocked to study 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 — could be notably absent in most components of the town as a result of it’s forbidden in Islam. However there it was, a avenue 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 brief 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 possibly can ask for a bit of the crispy pores and skin to have a style. A kilo prices P550. You too can order half a kilo, which is at P350. You possibly can have it as an entire 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 arduous; 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
Deal with: Don Alfaro St., Tetuan, Zamboanga Metropolis
Open: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM


To this point, we’ve already coated principally primary 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 at Palmeras Zamboanga

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 vibrant, candy, and creamy, good for laundry down no matter lunch or dinner you had.

Nowadays, you possibly can take pleasure in a cup from distributors at Paseo del Mar, however in case you’re after the unique, head over to Hacienda de Palmeras Resort and Restaurant, extensively thought to be 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 Resort and Restaurant
Deal with: Pasonanca Highway, Sta. Maria, Zamboanga Metropolis
Working Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-10pm; Monday,Saturday 10am-8pm
Closed: Sundays
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 avenue meals! These on a regular basis accessible munchies inform quite a bit concerning the place, its individuals, and its tradition. Yow will discover avenue meals wherever, particularly in busy areas like the general public market and across the metropolis corridor.

Traditional 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 greater, denser, heavier and really very purple.

It’s normally among the many many objects on peddlers’ bilao. We had it at Paseo del Mar!

Chikalang Zamboanga Street Food
Chikalang is within the decrease proper nook
Chikalang before frying
Chikalang earlier than frying

R.T. Lim Boulevard additionally hosts numerous avenue meals distributors. A number of the avenue meals decisions 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 seen 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 prime and a calamansi on the facet, and drizzled with sizzling sauce.

Coincidentally, we have 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.

Mie Goreng at Lim Boulevard Zamboanga
Mie Goreng
Mie Goreng vendor Zamboanga
Kuya Jul, mie goreng vendor
Balut Vendor RT Lim Boulevard Zamboanga
Balut vendor

It’s totally attainable to attempt all of the eating places and meals spots talked about above by yourself. In your itinerary, you possibly can insert a lunch or dinner cease, whichever is closest to the realm you’re exploring that day. (We’ll publish a pattern itinerary, so you’ll want to verify 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 wonderful foodie locations years in the past. So after I not too long ago 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:

iTravel Tourist Lane Zamboanga

We paid for all the meals featured on this put up.


AirAsia flies every 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.

AirAsia Aircraft

For a worry-free and extra snug journey, you can even 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 occasions.

AirAsia Value PackAirAsia Premium Flex

When you’re coming from Manila, AirAsia’s Zamboanga flights function from NAIA Terminal 4.

Disc: AirAsia coated our flights on our most up-to-date journey, so it wouldn’t have been attainable with out them. So guide na kayo with them in case you resolve to go to Zamboanga!


Ever O Business Hotel Zamboanga
Twin Room at Ever O Enterprise Resort, Zamboanga Metropolis

We now have tried three totally different accommodations in Zamboanga and all of them have been respectable and nice:

When you’ve got a much bigger funds, you might also take a look at these different properties within the space:


Phrases by: Yosh Dimen
Images by: Yosh Dimen & Vins Carlos






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