Zamboanga Peninsula’s cuisine is just as diverse as the cultures and people that inhabit it.
More than just seafood, its desserts and kakanin are a prime example of how vast your options are in terms of sweets in the region. From marketplace merienda (snack) in Isabela de Basilan to coffee time kakanin (rice cakes) in Zamboanga City, here’s a panghimagas guide to satisfy your tourist sweet tooth.
Fair warning, a lot of fried food ahead.
A crunchy snack made from deep-fried rice batter, the lukot-lukot is a sweet bundled noodle treat that is sold throughout the region.
The vendors at the public market are stationed on elevated platforms that can be seen from afar. This serves a clear sign of where to get their wares, as well as providing ventilation as they cook.
A common merienda fare, lukot-lukot pairs well with coffee or tea. Its price usually ranges from Php10 for a simple roll piece to Php25 for a larger triangle piece for sharing.
Other notable places you can get lukot-lukot in the region include Taluksangay Muslim Delicacies in Zamboanga City. You can also find it, along with other street food fare, at Isabela Port Night Market.
Panyam or panyalam is a chewy glutinous rice pancake that’s thicker and rounder at the center, the panyam is a common snack for Muslims in Mindanao, especially at special events.
It is made with ground glutinous rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar, which is then deep fried until it puffs up. This gives it its signature bulge at the center, where its bite is most billowy.
You can also enjoy panyam when you visit the Marang-Marang Floating Cottage and Isabela Port Night Market.
A fresh fruitier take on the halo-halo, the knickerbocker is famously sold at Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant (Php110) in Zamboanga City.
The knickerbocker is usually served in a tall glass filled with assorted fruits such as mango, watermelon, banana, and pineapple, which is mixed with condensed milk and multi-flavored gelatin.
Now widely sold in many stalls in the region, the Palmeras version distinguishes itself with a heaping scoop of homemade strawberry ice cream. It’s a refreshing dessert to enjoy at the end of your meal, or just simply have it solo to cool off on a hot day.
Other notable spots you can find knickerbocker in the city include Pinoy Patio at Paseo del Mar and Postres de Palmeras at KCC Mall.
The daral can present itself as a deceitful treat. At first glance, it may be mistaken for lumpiang sariwa with its plain crêpe roll-like appearance.
It reveals its true nature upon your first bite, with its sweet filling of caramelized coconut shreds, known as hinti or bukayo. The moist crêpe-like wrap is made with ground up glutinous rice and coconut milk, to double down on the coconut flavor.
You can order daral at Dennis Coffee Garden (Php65) along with other Tausug delicacies. You can also find the dessert in many halal spots in the region.
A famous fried street food in Zamboanga City, most chicalang is served in its distinct twisted pinilipit shape coated in sugar and flour.
It can also be served skewered without any coating, resembling a bananacue.
Its dough is made with glutinous purple rice, giving it a chewy texture and bright color. After an initial fry, it’s then coated with sugar and fried again to give it a sweet caramelized coating.
The price averages at Php4 per piece, depending on where you get it. The usual street stalls that sell them can be found at the Pettit Barracks, the Red Cross Complex, and near the City Health Office.
Also known as saging rebosao, saging prito is another deep-fried dish, this one made with sliced bananas coated in sugar.
What makes it different from bananacue is that the sugar is only added in the end, after frying. The raw banana is deep-fried twice to give its bite a little crunch. It’s then sprinkled with brown or regular sugar.
Prices range from Php5 to Php10 per stick when you buy it along Sta. Maria Road in Zamboanga City. You can also buy it along with chicalang along the streets near the Red Cross Complex. The treat is also offered at Dennis Coffee Garden, where it’s called Jualan Saing (Php65) in Tausug and served with a sweet coco dip.
All tourist destinations in Zamboanga City and Isabela de Basilan have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.