Mindanao cuisine is a diverse and complex mix of indigenous, Spanish, and Malay flavors. Like a few other food hubs across the country, Mindanao is known for its use of spices and unique cooking methods. One should note that Mindanao cuisine is just an umbrella term for several distinct food cultures—Chavacano, Maranao, and Tausug, to name a few.
Of course, the best way to enjoy these is by visiting the regions and communities where they are served. However, if you can’t head south, you can taste them right in Metro Manila. In this article, we listed four restaurants that bring the colorful flavors of Southern Philippines to the capital. Enjoy!
Palm Grill: Authentic Southern Mindanao Cuisine
First on our list is Palm Grill: Authentic Southern Mindanao Cuisine located along Tomas Morato Avenue. Palm Grill is your go-to place if you are craving something flavorful. They focus on dishes from different ethnolinguistic groups such as Zamboangueño, Tausug, and Chavacano.
One of Palm Grill’s main dishes is the Curacha in Alavar sauce. Curacha is a Chavacano name for spanner crab. It is a type of crustacean that looks like a hybrid of crab and lobster. Palm grill perfectly blends the curacha with alavar sauce, Zamboanga’s famous sauce made from coconut milk with crab fat and spices. If the curacha is not enough for you, Palm Grill also offers Tiyula itum, a hearty beef soup cooked with lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and charred coconut.
They also have Knickerbocker, Zamboangueño’s version of halo-halo. Unlike the typical halo-halo that is made from ice, Knickerbocker is a mixture of cream and tropical fruits (like mango and banana) topped with ice cream.
Palm Grill: Authentic Southern Mindanao Cuisine is open daily, Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can visit their Facebook page for their full menu.
June-Nairah Halal Food Restaurant
Located near the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, June-nairah Halal Food Restaurant is one of the biggest and oldest restaurants in the Muslim district that serves Maranao dishes.
June-Nairah has Piaparan A Manok, chicken cooked in a coconut milk-based broth with grated coconut. What makes this dish truly distinct is the use of palapa, a traditional Maranao condiment made from spices, and sakurab, a type of native shallot. Other dishes include bakas (yellowfin tuna), budi (fish eggs), kinilaw etc. For every order of a viand, you will get free turmeric soup and palapa.
But If you are just looking for a simple treat yet affordable, you can just order pastil, rice covered in banana leaf with protein (chicken or beef) as fillings. It only costs P15.00!
June-Nairah Halal Food Restaurant is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Zahraa’s Halal Food
Another halal restaurant that offers Mindanao cuisine is Zahraa’s Halal Food located in Sampaloc, Manila. Zahraa’s Halal Food is a fairly young eatery, only opened during the pandemic, but has already established a good reputation among foodies.
Here, one can delight in traditional Tausug favorites. You can find different dishes here such as satti, chicken strips on skewers with sweet and spicy red sauce. It is served with rice molded into cubes. They also have Pagi syagul, stingray cooked in coconut milk and turmeric. If the Maranao people have Piaparan A Manok, the Tausugs have Pyanggang Manok, chicken braised in spices and burnt coconut meat.
You can savor the delicious Pyanggang Manok with other Tausug dishes at Zahraa’s Halal Food every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can check their Facebook page and menu here.
The next stop is Dulang Restaurant near Robinsons Manila. Just like Zahraa’s Halal Food, Dulang Restaurant also serves authentic and delicious Tausug dishes.
Inside, you will see a wide selection of dishes ranging from meat to vegetables. They have Beef kulma, Chicken pyanggang, Tiyula itum etc. They also have Piyassak, beef liver served similar to Tiyula itum. Besides the Tausug dishes, Dulang also serves Malaysian food such as Beef Rendang and Malaysian beefsteak.
To end your delicious meal, Tausug pastries and desserts are also available, which includes Putli mandi, a steamed rice cake with sweetened coconut filling.
Dulang Restaurant is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also order online through their Facebook page.
Moms Halal Restaurant & Events Place
Last but certainly not least is Moms Halal Restaurant & Events Place in Quezon City. This restaurant offers the best ambiance and dishes that are affordable but come in great quality and portions.
Mindanao cuisine is largely influenced by nearby Southeast Asian countries. That’s why in Moms restaurant, dishes with Malay flavors are present on their menu. You can order Beef rendang, Beef kurma, and even Mie goreng (Indonesia’s stir-fried noodles)! But if you are just looking for Southern favorites, they have Tiyula Itum and Pyanggang Manok. Don’t forget to order a cup of native coffee or delicacies such as Juwalan saing (deep-fried bananas with coco dip) to finish off your gastronomic journey.
Moms Halal Restaurant& Events Place is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.