The Flavors of Zamboanga: A Foodie Tour

A quick guide to awesome eats in Zamboanga City
by | May 17, 2017

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Dennis Coffee Garden

Block 2, Lot 8, San Jose Road, Baliwasan, Zamboanga City & 2/F KCC Mall de Zamboanga

For a taste of Authentic Sulu food and culture, visit Dennis Coffee Garden. This restaurant, which originated in Jolo in 1962, serves excellent Chicken Pianggang (chicken marinated in choice spices), Beef Kulma (beef cubes in mild curry paste), and Tiula Itum (beef in broth of roasted coconut and spices).

They celebrate Sulu coffee culture by pairing kahawa sug (Sulu’s best coffee) with native pastries on small plates collectively called Bangbang. This includes Jualan (deep fried bananas served with a tasty dip), Daral (moisture-rich crepe with sweet coconut filling), Pulihmandi (purple rice balls rolled on coconut flakes) and apam (Sulu’s native pancake), to name a few.


Fusion Cuisine

A new generation of chefs is starting to bring modern twists and flavors to old favorites by incorporating local ingredients in fusion cuisine. The recently held Savores 2017 Culinary Event showcased creative dishes like Curacha Seafood Pasta from Bistro Fellini & TriBeca Modern Kitchen & Bar, Deep-fried Curacha with Zambalaya Rice from The Bureau by Chef Mikoy, and Pastel de Chicken Pianggang from Chinito’s Asian Kitchen.

If you’re in the mood for something creative, you can check out their restaurants next time you’re in the city!


Street Food & Native Delicacies

The street food scene is also vibrant in the city, with many unique and interesting local delicacies. For a savory light snack, try pastil, small pies filled with togue (bean sprouts) and served with sweet spicy sauce.

Another filling snack is Tamales de Zamboanga, a rice cake filled with glass vermicelli noodles, spices and shrimp wrapped in leaves. Lokot-lokot is a sweet and crunchy local delicacy made from rice flour fried in strands and rolled up like barquillos (biscuit rolls), typically served during Eidl Fitr & other special occasions.

Other traditional Muslim delicacies include baulu mamon (mini pound cake made from flour and sugar), pitis patani (glutinous rice cake with bucayo or caramelized coconut, and muscovado) and panyam or panyalam (deep-fried rice flour pancake, with muscovado and coconut milk).

These are just a few of the culinary delights around Zamboanga City. Which of these are your favorites? Let us know in the comments section!

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Kara Santos is a freelance writer and photographer. When not on the road or motorcycling off somewhere for the weekend, she’s leveling up her experience points in the latest PlayStation RPG. Read about her real-life and virtual adventures on her blog Travel Up.

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