Food & Cuisine in Palawan
Palawan's restaurants are considered among the best in the Philippines. This is because they cater to international tastes and food choices, serving both local and foreign cuisines in an ambience that is rustic, simple and, thus, unique. Unlike many tourist destinations, Palawan's eateries and restaurants add to the charm of the island province and promise a unique Palawan experience.
One of Palawan's big attractions is its wide variety of food. While the local cuisine is much sought after, Palawan has plenty of restaurants that serve international cuisines.
Check out our Palawan Restaurant Guide below for information on the food and cuisine of Palawan, as well as some recommended places to eat out at. So after you've worked up an appetite sightseeing or shopping in Palawan, relax and experience the exotic food of Palawan. Check out our Philippines Restaurant Guide for more information about the country's food and cuisine.
Food & Cuisine in Palawan
Filipino cuisine is strongly influenced by Chinese, Spanish and Malay cuisines. Rice constitutes the main dish, which is served along with meat, seafood or fish cooked in a stew of vegetables. The local favourites in Palawan are Mechado (beef or pork in tomato gravy), Lechón (roasted pig), Crispy Pata (deep-fried pig's foot) and Kaldereta (goat meat in tomato stew).
Popular Filipino desserts include flan, turon (banana in spring roll wrappers fried in sugar), bibingka (rice cakes that come in a variety of flavours and textures), ube (purple yam), and fruit salad. Probably the most famous dessert is halo-halo, which directly translates to mix-mix; it's a refreshing ice-based dessert which combines sweet palm fruit, shredded coconut, jackfruit, mung beans, purple yam, corn, coconut gelatine, and pounded dry rice.
These are all mixed together with evaporated milk and shaved ice, and in special varieties, with a scoop of ice cream. Truly refreshing and delicious!
Next to the overwhelming beauty it has to offer, Palawan's biggest attraction is the mouth-watering seafood and Filipino cuisine. From small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants to much larger ones, there is always delicious food awaiting the hungry traveller. Many of the restaurants In Palawan serve both Filipino and international cuisine, so although they look local in décor, you may be surprised to find a number of European or American dishes in their menu.
The best restaurants in Palawan offer cuisines that are borrowed from Visayas and Mindanao. Treat yourself to delicious sinigang na hipon, grilled crabs and prawns, a wide range of tasty fish such as tilapia and bangus (milk fish), clam soup, and fresh shellfish. Try out the lato, which is a seaweed, also referred to as "sea grapes" because they look like a bunch of small green grapes, and when bitten into it releases refreshing saltwater into one's mouth.
This is usually eaten as an appetiser or side dish, as a salad, or alone with soy sauce. Another favourite starter with local dishes is the green mango salad, which is a mixture of green mangoes, tomatoes, and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).
One of the great things about local cuisine in Palawan is there is a wide array of vegetable dishes cooked in several very delicious and tasty ways. Popular vegetable dishes include laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk, also delicious when served spicy), pinakbet (mixed vegetables), adobong kangkong (sautéed water spinach), ginataang kalabasa (pumpkin in coconut milk), and ginataang langka (jackfruit in coconut milk).
A favourite in Puerto Princesa is the chicken inasal (grilled chicken), served as a specialty in Balinsasayaw Grill and Balay Inato.
The first-class hotels in Palawan take on-the-spot orders, and also offer catering services. Filipino cuisine is particularly famous for the variety of seafood served in the local hotels and restaurants. In fact, seafood is one of the biggest attractions of Palawan cuisine and it constitutes the main course in most of the restaurants. The most popular dish served for evening meals is grilled seafood with plenty of native fruits.
Kalui's is probably the most famous restaurant in Puerto Princesa. Because word of mouth has made it so popular, it is highly suggested that reservations are made beforehand. They serve no meat dishes; everything on the menu is seafood with vegetables.
It is nicely decorated with all native furnishings and comfortable interiors. Guests are asked to remove their slippers prior to entering the restaurant, like dining Japanese-style. Not to mention, everything is extremely affordable for such fantastic food and great service!
For the daring, Kinabuch's Bar and Grill offers something different - live mangrove worms! This is a local delicacy, often eaten by locals along with their drinks. Surely a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience!
Food lovers will be happy to know that Palawan is a haven of foreign cuisine. Restaurants that serve international foods can be found in hoards in the capital city of Puerto Princesa. The commercial district, which was once home to Vietnamese refugees, is also popular for its Vietnamese restaurants.
The ever-buzzing Rizal Avenue is full of local and foreign restaurants catering to all sorts of preferences. Surrounded as it is by the sea, there are plenty of Palawan restaurants that serve rice with fresh seafood. Meanwhile, the European settlers have opened restaurants that serve Swiss, German and English cuisines.
There are also several Vietnamese noodle houses, some full-fledged Vietnamese restaurants, one that specializes in vegetarian food and a bakery popular for its bread.
European settlers have opened eateries and restaurants that serve German, Swiss and English dishes. Among these, a local favourite is Bavaria Pizza, which serves great sausages and pizzas.
Outside of Puerto Princesa, however, restaurants serve their own authentic cuisines and require advance bookings for meals. This is because they usually stock very fresh and, thus, limited supplies. So, if you are looking to venture out of Puerto Princesa for a more exquisite dining experience with a feel of the rural life, remember to make prior bookings with the restaurants.
Located thirty minutes from the city proper is a restaurant called Viet Ville, aptly called so because it was once a relocation center for the Vietnamese who fled during the war. Together, the refugees set up a place with the help of some locals, and made it their own safe haven. They put up a small little restaurant, now famous for its yummy French bread and authentic Vietnamese noodles.
Cook Your Own Food
If you would rather cook your own food, then you should visit the ‘wet market'. You will be shocked at the low prices of fresh shrimps, crabs and fish. Being fresh, tuna and some other fish make for great kinilaw (meat or fish cooked in vinegar, with ginger or chilli, and eaten raw). Another dish that is popular among the locals is sikad-sikad, made from sea snail.
Preparing it is a breeze, but eating it demands dexterity, patience and a special tool. If cooked properly, the dish is wonderful; it tastes a bit like sweetened milk. Other popular local dishes are adobong ostrich and crocodile meat cooked in coconut milk.
Palawan is famous for its tasty and fresh cashew nuts. For those with a sweet tooth there are the best of pasalubong (souvenir) items, pastries, cashew nougats and yema.