Tawi-Tawi Delicacies: Must-Try Dishes In Tawi-Tawi, And Where To Eat

Foodie Guide to Tawi Tawi in 2022

Patulakan for sale in Pangliama Sugala

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

Breakfast at Sameera Coffee Shop
Breakfast at Sameera Coffee Shop
Breakfast in Tawi-Tawi
Breakfast in Tawi-Tawi

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

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

Palikambing – Palikambing is a fried banana ball that looks like a donut. It’s drizzled with caramel sauce.

Junay Rice
Junay Rice

Junai or Junay – It’s rice cooked in tiula itum or burned coconut.

Pitis Patani
Pitis Patani

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
Daral

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 - Tausug Mung Beans Fritters
Pan Pan – Tausug Mung Beans Fritters

Pan Pan – Pan pan is a mongo pastry or Mung Beans Fritter.

Putli Mandi
Putli Mandi

Putli Mandi – These sweet purple, white, or green rice balls are covered with grated coconut and bukayo filling.

Baulo
Baulo

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.

Seafood Dinner in Tawi-Tawi
Seafood Dinner in Tawi-Tawi
Fried Kamun or Sea Mantis
Fried Kamun or Sea Mantis
Streetfood in Tawi-Tawi
Streetfood in Tawi-Tawi

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.

Sati in Tawi-Tawi
Sati in Tawi-Tawi

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.

Tabid Tawi-tawi
Tabid Tawi-tawi
Octopus Tawi-tawi
Octopus Tawi-tawi

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.

Tawi-Tawi Martabak
Tawi-Tawi Martabak

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.

Patulakan for sale in Pangliama Sugala
Patulakan for sale in Pangliama Sugala
Patulakan
Patulakan
Patulakan paired with Tausug Coffee
Patulakan paired with Tausug Coffee

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!

Want more updates about new tourist spots in Tawi-Tawi, Philippines? Please follow #TeamOutofTown, on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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