The Culinary History of Southern Mindanao
How do you define, or determine, what your favorite restaurant is? For me, it’s simple. Just two criteria: first, it’s got food that I actually crave for, and I make decisive plans to visit the restaurant as often as possible, no matter how geographically undesirable it is. Second, I actually push through with those plans, and I visit that restaurant again and again. By virtue of the sheer number of visits I’ve made to Palm Grill since it opened in 2017 – five and counting --- basically, every other month or whenever I find myself in Quezon City, then I can confidently proclaim that this is my favorite new restaurant of the year.
The food here is Zamboangueño to the core. Add the delicacies of the Tausugs, and the specialties from Basilan, Jolo, and Tawi-Tawi, and you’ve got the true definition, as far as I’m concerned, of what a “destination restaurant” is. With all due respect to authentic ramen and genuine soft tacos, an opportunity to take a deep dive into the undiscovered cuisine of what are considered to be the danger zones of our very own country, without the need for armed bodyguards and a fast moving convoy, is a blessing that every selfrespecting foodie should take advantage of, and often.
I’ve been to Zamboanga more than a few times, and I have fond memories of Alavar and their famous curacha, and Palmeras for that dessert that sounds like it originated from New York, the Knickerbocker. Both restaurants are among the most famous in Zamboanga, and deservedly so. Every first time visitor to that charming city is brought there by their local hosts. Both of those most famous dishes make welcome appearances in Palm Grill. The curacha, those deep sea crab-lobster hybrids, are flown in daily, and then cooked in that savory sweet coconut cream-crabfat sauce. The Knicker iced treat is a halo-halo type dessert, homemade ice cream that tastes like condensed milk, scooped atop a refreshing parfait of nata de coco, watermelon, bananas, and other tropical fruits.
But my go-to dish here, the one I make plans for? The Green Chicken,