Tawi-Tawi Food Trip: Must-Tries and Where to Eat
Apart from the attractions, our trip to Tawi-Tawi was made more memorable by all the food we tried. To make the most of our quick trip, we skipped our hotel breakfast and searched for local breakfast places on our second day. We asked our BARMM host to bring us to a local eatery, so we could experience eating with locals. Here are some of my favorite food experiences in Tawi-Tawi, that you might want to try as well soon!
Intro to Tawi-Tawi’s kakanin at Sameera Coffee Shop
We went to Sameera Coffee Shop– a well-known all-day breakfast place serving pastries and kakanin (rice cakes). Upon securing a seat, we were served a tray filled with an assortment of food–from local donuts to rice cakes and bananas. Each plate costs P12, and coffee is only priced at P13 per cup. You’ll only need to pay for what you consume, and here are some of what we devoured at Sameera:
Wadjit – Wadjit is Tawi-Tawi’s version of biko. It’s a rice cake cooked in coconut milk and brown sugar, but this one uses brown rice instead.
Apam – It’s their native pancake and is usually eaten for breakfast and snacks.
Tsikalang or Tabid-tabid – These are fried, rolled purple glutinous rice.
Palikambing – Palikambing is a fried banana ball that looks like a donut. It’s drizzled with caramel sauce.
Junai or Junay – It’s rice cooked in tiula itum or burned coconut.
Pitis Patani – It’s a purple-colored rice cake with bukayo (sweetened coconut strips) filling. It is a Tausug delicacy served in most coffee shops in downtown Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, and even in Tausug Cafe in Zamboanga City. It is also served on several occasions like weddings and birthdays.
Daral – It is a Tausug delicacy made with rice flour wrap filled with sweet coconut filling.
Pangi-Pangi – These are fried flour doughs shaped into loops.
Pan Pan – Pan pan is a mongo pastry or Mung Beans Fritter.
Putli Mandi – These sweet purple, white, or green rice balls are covered with grated coconut and bukayo filling.
Baulu or Baulo – It’s a pastry that tastes like mamon but is molded into bitesize decorative shapes.
Panganan – It’s a local version of a pretzel made from roasted rice or powdered corn and syrup and fried in oil.
Seafood and Satti Experience
On our first night in Tawi-Tawi, we had dinner at the Governor’s house. One of the delicacies we tried is fried Kamun, a sea mantis. This type of crustacean is hard to catch and, needless to say, quite expensive. Although it’s not as nice-looking as a lobster, I find it tastier. I’ll choose this anytime more than lobster.
We returned to Sameera Coffee Shop on our third day. But apart from the tray of pastries, we tried their version of Chicken Satti. It’s a grilled dish with either chicken or beef, paired with puso rice, and served with a red, spicy sauce.
It wasn’t my first time eating Satti because it became my favorite when I first tried it in Zamboanga. Tawi-Tawi’s version of Satti is less spicy; nevertheless, it was just as delicious.
Chinese Pier Walking Tour
After a filling breakfast, we walked towards the Chinese Pier and found a sari-sari store that sells freshly cooked Tabid, a fried dough coated with sugar and margarine similar to Bicho of Bohol. Pastil is another pastry that looks like an empanada, but instead of meat, it has sotanghon noodles and chicken liver for its filling.
As we explored the Chinese Pier area, we passed by several shops that sell fresh and dried marine products. One was Agal-agal, a local term in Tawi-Tawi, which means seaweed. Some shops sell live sea mantis and lobsters. On the streets, local fishermen unload freshly harvested octopus sold for P150 per kilo. We went to another shop that sells dried fish of different kinds.
Munching on martabak
After an hour of strolling around the Chinese Pier, we had our early morning snack at one of the local’s favorite spots to eat martabak.
Martabak, in other Muslim cities, is a folded omelet pancake with vegetable bits and is often spicy. It’s the most common way of cooking murtabak as pan-fried crepes–with beaten eggs, chopped leeks, chives, scallions, and minced meat. It’s then folded and cut into squares.
But in other countries like Indonesia, theirs is on the sweeter side and is called murtabak. Here in Tawi-Tawi, their version of martabak is on the meatier side. The filling is usually chicken, sardines, or corned beef.
Aside from martabak, we also tried the Roti Jawah and Roti Kosong, both very delicious kinds of flatbread.
More snacks at Panglima Sugala
To end our Tawi-Tawi food trip, we visited the quaint coastal municipality of Panglima Sugala, where the Saturday barter trade happens. After a day of learning about their culture, we visited the Uppay Malik Rubber Farm to sample their Sulu coffee and patulakan–A kind of Tausug indigenous confection made from pounded roasted rice mixed with brown sugar and shredded coconut, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. It was a tasty pair that most Tawi-Tawi locals have for snack time.
Our trip to Tawi-Tawi was made more special by all the food we tried. Most of the dishes we tasted were new to me, and the best thing about them was they were all so delicious yet affordable. I especially loved all their kakanin–something I terribly miss now that I’m back in Manila. For foodies who love to travel, now’s the time to discover the wonders of Tawi-Tawi through their cuisine–it’s something totally worth coming back for.
How to get there
Tawi-Tawi is an island province in the Philippines located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The capital of Tawi-Tawi is Bongao. Philippine Airlines now offers flights to Tawi-Tawi from Cotabato City.
The Cotabato-Tawi-Tawi flight schedule is every Monday and Thursday morning weekly.
- PR 2487 Cotabato to Tawi-Tawi departs at 7:30 am
- PR 2488 Tawi-Tawi to Cotabato departs at 9:40 am
Don’t miss this chance to discover the unspoiled beauty of Tawi-Tawi through its scenic attractions and flavorful cuisine! Visit Tawi-Tawi and take advantage of these weekly fights to discover more unspoiled attractions in the Mindanao region!