Pardon our take on Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” for the title but we beg to ask, a satti is a satti is a satti, right? A visit to Zamboanga City and Bongao, Tawi Tawi became a journey of discovery with regards to the answer to this query.
But first things first – what is a satti? A popular breakfast fare in the south, satti is grilled beef or chicken on a stick served with tamuh (rice) in a spicy curry sauce. The description reads like a simple dish to prepare so you might be inclined to say how different can sattis be? We had the opportunity to sample the satti at Jimmy’s, the pride of Zamboanga and Sulu, and at the Bongao Coffee Shop to look for answers.
The weather alternated between overcast and rainy when we ventured to Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte. It’s been a long trip, having gone from Tawi-Tawi to Zamboanga City and northwards to Dipolog so instead of letting the rains dampen our spirits, we took it as a sign to slow down on shooting and make the most out of the sleepy weather. Having billeted ourselves at one of the pension houses along the city’s Sunset Boulevard, we had the rare luxury of being steps away from eating places. We consider ourselves very lucky indeed to have stumbled upon Kamayan ni Manay just before the heavy rains came again and obscured the nice view of Dapitan Bay.
For the foodie with a bigger than average appetite, there is a constant battle waged against small portions. Should I place two orders instead of just one? Should I place an additional order after the first one comes? Such is the perennial dilemma of the hearty eater. Count us happyfoodies in that category.
Happily, there’s no such dilemma at Bigby’s Café and Restaurant. With roots in Cagayan de Oro City, Bigby’s makes its way to Manila, opening its newest branch at the atrium of SM Megamall recently. True to its name, the food we were served came in big, nay, humongous portions. But how does the food taste? Follow us as we navigate our way to the Bigby’s food trip menu.
Our flight schedule to Zamboanga City fell on Christmas day so it was imperative that happyfoodies should have a good Christmas dinner away from our respective homes.
But we want something else other than the usual hamon and other holiday foods so at the suggestion of our tricycle driver, we ended up in Hai San Seafood Market and Restaurant. Was the meal worthy of a holiday dinner? Was the food delicious as it was filling? Happyfoodies would soon find out.
Visit Zamboanga City and almost everyone tells you not to miss tasting the famous Curacha, a hybrid crustacean that bears resemblance to the sea crab and a spiny lobster. The name means “cockroach” in Chavacano, maybe because of its appearance. But don’t let that unappetizing translation dissuade you from sampling this tasty crustacean, which is caught only in the seas of Zamboanga and Sulu.
Short of buying a live one from the market and cooking it yourself, the best way to enjoy this treat is to eat at Alavar’s Seafood House, which is just a short tricycle ride from downtown. First item on the agenda is of course, Curacha. But happyfoodies got some welcome surprises from other items in the menu.
Heading to a tropical destination such as Camiguin, one almost automatically imagine being served seafood at every meal. But for visitors who long for something familiar, there’s a big surprise waiting in the capital, Mambajao.
The island has attracted its share of foreign investors and one of them, an American, has found his way to opening a spanking-new restaurant-cum-hotel-cum-bar. The place is Rooftop, located at the busy thoroughfare of Mambajao proper. The stocked bar and rather sleek-looking restaurant weren’t open yet at the time we dropped by but the brightly-lit restaurant was already serving very good pizzas and pastas.
One of the highlights of visiting the island of Camiguin apart from the sceneries that fill the eyes is the food that fills the tummy. This island, which lies northeast of Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, boasts of the sweetest buahan (lansones) and creamy pastel (soft buns with milky or fruity fillings). Boarding off the ferry at the town of Benoni also puts one within walking distance of the Tanguines Lagoon, a sort of causeway that connects a travel lodge-cum-floating restaurant to the sea – the J&A Fishpen/Travel Lodge.
It’s virtually impossible to miss this establishment. Ask any of the locals to recommend a place to have good food and a relaxing time and they’ll most likely point you to this place. And they have very good reasons to do so.
With the globalization of the Filipino palate, is it still viable to set up a Pinoy restaurant nowadays? Ponder this: on one hand, you have to market to a younger generation of diners reared on a steady diet of pizzas, burgers and pastas. On the other hand, you have to appeal to an older generation who may have grown tired of the old favorites and are gravitating to international fare. Following the suggestion of a friend, we ventured to Mandaluyong to look for 1521 in the hope of finding a more definitive answer to our question. We’re happy to say that we walked in hungry for food and answers and walked out with a positive outlook and contented tummies.
1521 has an interesting story to go along with the great food. The name stands for the year in Philippine history when the Spaniards landed in the Philippines, marking the start of the Spanish colonial period. The restaurant’s mission is very noble: to rediscover Filipino cuisine. Simply put, 1521 is all about Filipino food with interesting twists and turns; fusion cuisine that pays homage to our roots but given fresh tweaks to provide both the young and older diners something interesting to discover. We’ve seen our fair share of Filipino fusion cuisine that strays far off the mark and happily, this isn’t the case with 1521. As its owner, advertising maven, Tanke Tankeko points out, it is food that’s faithful to the fare she (and us from the older generation) grew up on.