Where To Eat And What Food To Try In Puerto Princesa City (A Restaurant Guide)

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Find out the best food items and must-try restaurants in Puerto Princesa City in this guide.

If you are thinking of where to eat and what food to try in Puerto Princesa City, you will never run out of options because of the many restaurants scattered within the city center of this popular destination. 

In fact, with both exotic and mainstream dishes that travelers can try here, I would even consider Puerto Princesa to be a recommended place to visit for a memorable gustatory adventure.

Seafood for sale at Puerto Princesa City
Seafood at baywalk

Where To Eat And What Food To Try In Puerto Princesa City (A Restaurant Guide)

    Our foodie adventure in Puerto Princesa City


    Similar to our previous travels, we were looking forward to trying the food at Puerto Princesa City. That's because we believe that food and travel invariably go together. To taste local signature cuisine is to have a bite of a region's culture, heritage, and way of life. 

    Exploring the restaurants of Puerto Princesa City
    Strolling at the baywalk

    Puerto Princesa City did not disappoint because we discovered that it had a lot to offer in terms of food, both exotic and familiar. As such, Puerto Princesa City comes highly-recommended for thrill-seeking foodie adventurers and even ordinary travelers who just want to enjoy good food.

    We found out also during our tour that one of Puerto Princesa's biggest agricultural crops is cashew, thus you can expect to find cashew nut products in most pasalubong (souvenir) shops around the city.

    Exotic food items that are worth trying


    Here are some of the most recommended list of exotic food that you might want to try when you visit Puerto Princesa City:

    1. Tamilok


    Perhaps Puerto Princesa's, or the whole of Palawan's, most iconic exotic dish is the Tamilok (Toredo Navalis) or woodworm. 

    While most people might feel squeamish with the idea of eating worms, tamilok is actually a type of mollusk. Tamilok is from the same family as oysters, hence its similarity in taste to oysters. 

    Tamilok at Puerto Princesa City
    Tamilok kinilaw (ceviche). Photo courtesy of www.foodtrippings.com

    This wood-burrowing mollusk lives in and feeds on dead mangrove tree trunks. As such, tamilok gatherers are always on the lookout for dead, fallen mangrove tree trunks along rivers and seasides. 

    Once the tamilok is taken out of its burrow and exposed to air, it quickly changes its color from white to bluish.

    Tamilok is traditionally eaten fresh, soaked in vinegar, and seasoned with a little salt, crushed pepper, chilies, and garlic. 

    Most restaurants, however, have found ways to prepare tamilok to cater to those who prefer to eat it cooked. So expect to find tamilok cooked into sinigang (sour soup with vegetables), or fried and breaded in some restaurant's menu. 

    For those who are adventurous and would want to try tamilok, it's available in many restaurants around Puerto Princesa City. Unfortunately, we were not so daring to eat tamilok during our tour of Puerto Princesa City.

    2. Crocodile meat


    We were told by our guide during our Puerto Princesa City Familiarization Tour that one of the most sought-after exotic meats in the city is from crocodiles. Crocodile meat is supplied by the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center and not taken from the wild.

    Crocodiles at Puerto Princesa City
    Baby crocodiles at the Puerto Princesa Wildlife and Conservation Center

    Crocodile meat is usually made into sisig or adobo. Oftentimes, it is simply grilled over hot coals. It is also processed into longganisa (sausages) and tocino and sold frozen at the Puerto Princesa City Wildlife and Conservation Center. 

    According to those who have tasted it, crocodile meat tastes just like ordinary pork or chicken meat, especially when seasoned with herbs and spices.

    3. Lamayo


    Lamayo is just regular danggit (rabbitfish) that is prepared in a different manner in Puerto Princesa City. The fish is marinated in herbs and spices and then just partially dried under the sun. This method allows the fish to retain most of its flavor while giving it that delectable crunch when deep-fried. 

    When I initially asked what lamayo was, I was informed that it was a variety of danggit but upon researching, I learned that it was a type of fish preparation. 

    Lamayo is really similar to how daing na bangus is prepared, which is butterflied, marinated, and dried. Aside from danggit, bangus and tilapia can be made into lamayo.

    Where to eat in Puerto Princesa City


    If exotic food is not your thing, you can still enjoy delicious food in Puerto Princesa City in the following restaurants. 

    It's easy to go to these food establishments because these are mostly located along Rizal Avenue. Just hail a tricycle and tell the driver to bring you to your restaurant of choice. The tricycle fare is around P20.

    1. Mangan Kayon 

    Location: Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa City

    While this restaurant seemed out of place because of its Ilocano name, it's still one of the most popular restaurants in the city. 

    Mangan Kayon restaurant in Puerto Princesa City
    Mangan Kayon Restaurant

    Mangan Kayon (“Kain kayo!” in Tagalog and “have something to eat!” in English) is a Bahay Kubo-style restaurant with its main hall divided into small partitions so that diners are given a little privacy when enjoying their meal.

    Eating at Mangan Kayon restaurant in Puerto Princesa City
    Enjoying a boodle fight meal at Mangan Kayon restaurant

    Food in Mangan Kayon is definitely Filipino and the restaurant is best-known for its boodle fight meals consisting of grilled fish, crabs and shrimps, vegetables, grilled pork belly and adobo pork, salted eggs, and a side salad. 

    2. Kinabuchs Grill and Bar 

    Location: Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

    Another famous restaurant in Puerto Princesa is Kinabuchs Grill and Bar that serves both Filipino and Western dishes. 

    Kinabuchs Bar and Grill in Puerto Princesa City
    Kinabuchs Bar and Grill

    The restaurant specializes in grilled seafood and meats. Here at Kinabuchs, tamilok is available most of the time and prepared in a variety of ways, such as fresh, fried, breaded, adobo, and sinigang. 

    Meanwhile, you can also order a plate of crocodile sisig if you want something unique to pair with your beer.

    Ribs barbecue at Kinabuchs Bar and Grill in Puerto Princesa City
    Ribs barbecue


    We tried Kinabuchs' baby back ribs and grilled tuna belly. Both dishes were good and very easy to recommend to those who like to eat something not exotic. Kinabuchs gets really busy at night because they serve beer and other alcoholic drinks. 

    Grilled tuna belly at Kinabuchs in Puerto Princesa City
    Grilled tuna belly

    This is probably the best seafood restaurant in Puerto Princesa City because of the extensive choices in its menu.

    3. KaLui Restaurant 

    Location: Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

    When in Puerto Princesa City, never miss eating at KaLui Restaurant. It's a semi-fine dining restaurant and art gallery rolled together. As such, aside from delicious food, expect also a visual treat at KaLui Restaurant.

    KaLui Restaurant in Puerto Princesa City
    KaLui Restaurant

    Before you can enter the restaurant, you will be politely asked to remove your footwear which you will have to deposit in small wooden drawers right outside the entrance. The floor is polished wood and bamboo, eliminating the need for shoes or slippers. 

    For those who are unfamiliar, it's an old Filipino practice to remove one's footwear before entering another person's house or bedroom, as a sign of respect and so as not to tarnish the floor that had been painstakingly polished to a brilliant shine.

    Set meal at KaLui Restaurant in Puerto Princesa City
    Set meal

    The menu at KaLui is limited, usually with different Set Meals on offer per night. The dishes are a fusion of Filipino and Western cuisine. 

    We ordered the Kalui Special of the Day Set, which consisted of fish steak, prawns, veggies of the day, fish roll in coco cream, rice, and starters. The food was delicious and at par with fine-dining standards.

    For art enthusiasts, prepare to have your artsy cravings satisfied with different paintings and beautiful wood carvings that adorn the entire place.

    4. Baywalk 

    Location: Sandoval Street, Puerto Princesa City

    Baywalk is located near the port area and is host to a strip of restaurants and bars. The place used to be occupied by informal settlers until a large fire gutted the whole neighborhood, forcing the community to evacuate. 

    Sea urchin sold at baywalk in Puerto Princesa City
    Sea urchin

    It has since been transformed into a bustling park with benches, restaurants and bike lanes, very similar to baywalk along Manila Bay.

    The dining style here is "paluto," which means diners would have to choose from the various fresh fish, meat, and seafood that are on display right outside the restaurant. The restaurant personnel would then cook the food based on the customers’ liking. 

    They also serve fresh uni or sea urchin but judging from the way these are displayed without any ice or form of refrigeration, you might as well just have these grilled than eat them raw.

    Boodle fight meal at baywalk in
    Boodle fight meal

    If you are like us who have big appetites, go ahead and get the boodle fight set meals. This filling meal is composed of seaweed salad, a bowl of soup made from any fish and vegetables of your choice, grilled fish and meats, mussels, vegetables, and lots of rice, that are served over a large sheet of banana leaf.

    The food here is surprisingly good, definitely worth a visit when in Puerto Princesa. The place is also a good escape from the hustle and bustle of the city after a day of moving around

    5. Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa 

    Location: Arreceffi Island, Honda Bay

    You may have to exert a little effort to get to Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa because you need to ride a ferry to reach it. It may sound inconvenient to visit Dos Palmas but it's really worth your time. 

    Snacks at Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa
    Snacks

    If overnight accommodation is not possible, you can just purchase a day tour package. That is already inclusive of the ferry ride as well as the use of Dos Palmas' facilities like snorkeling gear, kayak, and life vest, to name a few.

    Fish steak at Dos Palmas
    Fish steak

    Dos Palmas offers one of the most affordable hotel food that we have tried. Nevertheless, the quality and quantity of food are never compromised. The servings are huge and the items are flavorful. 

    It was here at Dos Palmas where I tasted a unique version of halo-halo in which the ice is made of milk. The ice in the halo-halo was really smooth and, of course, a lot creamier than regular shaved ice. 

    I asked the server why it was served that way and she said that foreigners are unfamiliar with how to eat halo-halo. 

    Breakfast buffet at Dos Palmas in Puerto Princesa City
    Enjoying the breakfast buffet

    Most of the time, those foreigners consume halo-halo without bothering to mix all of the ingredients together, which meant that the flavors would not combine together. As a result, they fail to enjoy the full taste of the halo-halo. 

    When the actual ice in halo-halo is made of milk, this problem is eliminated. The halo-halo would already be flavorful, to begin with.

    On a further note, Dos Palmas’ breakfast buffet is likewise notable. There were bacon, sausages, eggs, fish fillet, rice, bread, pancakes, cereal, milk, coffee, and fresh fruits at the buffet table.

    Palawan yogurt at Dos Palmas
    Palawan yogurt

    It was also here where I tasted Palawan yogurt. This type of yogurt was a lot tangier than the regular commercial yogurt variety. To enjoy Palawan yogurt, drizzle a little honey over it to balance the taste. The contrast of sour and sweet flavors was pleasant to the mouth.  

    Epilogue


    Puerto Princesa's ability to tickle the taste buds of both daring food adventures and regular foodies make it not just a popular tourist attraction but a worthy culinary destination as well. 

    When in Puerto Princesa, be a little bold and try the various gastronomic delights that the city has to offer.


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    Puerto Princesa food and restaurant guide

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