5 Dishes to Try in Zamboanga

Here’s why the Chosen Juan gained few pounds after his Zamboanga trip.

By Dave Agbayani
June 27, 2016


My trip to Zamboanga has been an adventure not only for me but for my taste buds too. Every dish gave me a sneak peek of the city’s culture through different combinations of sweet, savory, and spicy. I love everything I ate in Zamboanga, but here are five of my favorites that you should give a try.

1. Tiulah Itum
Don’t be surprised with this dish and its black broth that looks like your typical dinuguan. Tiulah itum is a hearty beef stew and goat stew darkened with roasted coconut. Its level of spiciness varies from one restaurant to another. This is a great dish to get you all fired up for your adventures in Zamboanga. You can have this at BarCode and Dennis Coffee Garden.

2. Beef and Chicken Satti
What surprisingly makes a restaurant jam-packed at eight in the morning is satti, the Zamboanguenos’ version of the Malaysian satay. Covered in sweet and spicy sauce, beef and chicken skewers are paired with rice cooked in palm leaves. It appears to be a favorite breakfast grub of the locals. Try out this incredibly delicious and affordable dish at Jimmy’s Satti.

3. Seafood Paella
Throughout Zamboanga, you’ll see various Spanish influences in their architecture, their awesome language (Chavacano!), and the food. Country Chicken Restaurant may sound like an American eatery but their seafood paella is simply divine. Topped with prawns, clams, peas, and green beans, the turmeric rice is very flavorful. I could have a huge serving all to myself! Of course, don’t forget to try Country Chicken Restaurant’s other Filipino dishes and their crispy fried chicken.

4. Curacha with Alavar Sauce
I was told that you can’t leave Zamboanga without buying a pack of the special Alavar Sauce. At first, I found it strange that one of the city’s popular take home items happens to be a pack of sauce. But when I tried curacha (deep-sea crabs) with Alavar Sauce at Alavar Restaurant, I completely understood why. This wonderful concoction made from coconut milk and secret spices simply enhanced the succulent, sweet flavor of the crab. It also goes well with meat, fish, and other kinds of seafood. So did I take home some? Of course I did.

5. Knicker Bocker
The nice thing about living in a country like the Philippines is we have a lot of delectable cold treats to beat the heat like halo-halo, sorbetes, and ice scramble. Knicker Bocker is similar to halo halo: it is made from frozen fresh fruits, gelatin, sweetened milk, and topped with strawberry ice cream. You can try this cool dessert at Palmeras or in Paseo del Mar.

Flights of our Chosen Juan were provided by GetGo, the loyalty rewards program of Cebu Pacific. Earn points when you book your hotel with us! Click here to find out more.