Perk up your mornings with a semi-spicy Satti meal
Pardon the title pun there. Just have to use it on this entry, hehe. Being close to our neighboring country in Sabah, Malaysia, you could find certain similarities in terms of design, culture and especially food in Zamboanga City. One such similar dish I found here is their famous Satti which is very similar to the Malaysian Satay.
An expesnive satti at Morning Sun, Php4.50 a stick
Satti is actually a breakfast meal to the locals of Zamboanga. Satti shops open up as early as 4am and by mid day it would be rare to find a meal by then. Major difference I saw from its Malaysian counterpart is the servince per stick. While the Satay is similar to our regular BBQ, Satti has only 3 small strips of roasted meats on a stick. The meat can be any from beef, pork, liver or chicken. Why the tiny serving? I’m not really sure, but when you couple it with the sticky rice, served floating on a thick semi-sweet and spicy sauce, it seems a bit size is enough to add flavor to the sticky rice.
A cheaper satti house (taken with SE K800i)
There are several Satti shops in town and most famous are those along Pilar street. One shop we heard was the most popular was the Morning Sun Satti. And I must say I won’t recommend this shop despite its popularity. For one thing it’s expensive. They sell a sticks for Php 4.50 whilst the first side street carinderia we ate Satti at sell a bowl of 8 sticks for only Php 20. And their satti taste much better. Their chicken satti isn’t much to rave about either and it seems saturated with food color. What I only like about that shop is their sticky rice which is much flavorful than the rest and their liver satti. But value for money? It’s not that good.
Street side Tempura
If suddenly, walking around the streets of Zamboanga, a sudden hunger pang strikes, there are numerous Tempura stalls in some corners to relieve those food cravings. They are more popular here than fishballs and for only Php 3.00 you get a stick, with the tempura looking like a larger version of a kikiam.
Curacha, the water cockrach meal
If you are looking for an authentic Zamboanga cuisine, head over to Alavar’s and order their famous Curacha. No, not the Babaeng Walang Pahinga by Rosana Roces. Curacha is a local Chavacano name given to this sea crab species also known as a sea cockroach. This species which seems to be a mix of a giant crab and a lobster can only be found here at the waters of Zamboanga and not anywhere else in the world. A serving of curacha is around Php 700 and is good for 2-3 persons due to its sheer size. There are several ways to cook it but what we have which is topped with some garlic spices and some chili is really delicious. I noticed this species of crab has more meat on its body. Also while at that restaurant, try to get a bottle of their special bagoong. Another special of their that I really enjoyed. I should have bought a few bottles more when I went home.
Zamboanga City doesn’t have much in their night life department, but you could head down to their famous Boulevard where you could enjoy a scenic sunset and some barbecue dinner as well. It’s really cheap and delicious but you have to have to settle on the comforts of some monobloc chairs and concrete benches which is really just fine.
Hanging out at the boulevard
The Boulevard is their local version of Baywalk, but this one is curved like a cove facing the sea. No major restaurants or eateries as well aside from some BBQ carts, Balut Penoy and some Tempura vendors. Lots of locals seems to hang out here at night. It’s quite nice enjoying the air here and the food as well.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.