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Rahul Motwani

on 22 November 2013

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Final Destination
The smaller Alavar branch in Paseo del Mar doesn’t serve curacha and the menu is limited to more affordable specialties like grilled fish, baked clams, prawns with Alavar sauce and inasal/barbecue dishes. If you want to share the magic with your friends and family back home, you can take home frozen packs of the Alavar sauce for P250/kilo while curacha at the wet market in Guiwan Flea market cost about P450/kilo during my visit. Another thing you can buy at the market – lobster! But the larger ones can set you back P1,000/kilo.
Curacha: Curacha, a species of deep-sea crab found only in the waters of Zamboanga is one of the most famous dishes in the city. The best place to try it out is Alavar Seafood Restaurant, where it is served generously topped with a delicious sauce of coconut milk and spices. You need to be in a big group to enjoy this (and split the bill) as one order costs at least P850 (M) to P1,050.00/kilo (XL) at their main branch. As a huge fan of seafood, I have no complaints eating crabs just plain steamed, but there’s something about the sauce that makes this dish extra-special.

Location 1
region 9
Baked Clams & Green Mango con Bagon Gata: Everything served in Alavar Seafood Restaurant was great, but the baked clams topped with butter and garlic was really delicious. The green mango con bagon gata (another Alavar House specialty) topped with a delectable bagoong blended with coconut milk, helped us digest all the rich seafood dishes we were having.
Coffee and cake from Tsokolate Cafe: Tsokolate Restaurant is a charming café that showcases some pop culture and vintage music memorabilia. The cafe serves very affordable food and has a cool vibe, making this place great to hang out for afternoon snacks, desserts and coffee and most importantly, Free Wifi! They have a few desktops and laptops for rent (P30/hour) for those who want to check mail but didn’t bring gadgets. Breakfast meals start at P50, brewed coffee is P28 and hot chocolate is P24. Lunch is served from 10am-2pm while grilled specialties are served from 4pm-6pm. Slices of cakes here are about P40-60 while cream puffs and eclairs are just P8.50 each! Great budget-friendly place.
Zamboanga White: A very sweet and tropical shake that is known as the signature drink of Zamboanga City. This refreshing creamy lychee-based shake is widely served in many restaurants and hotels including Garden Orchid Hotel, Haisan and Alavar and ranges in price from P60-P120/glass. The kamias-based Alavar Juice was also really good.
Calamares & pulutan-type food: Bistro at Paseo del Mar serves pasta dishes, fusion food and affordable platters suitable for big groups. Their barkada platter consisting of calamares, krispy kangkong, pancit, rice, meatballs, chicken, & green mango with bagoong with 2 pitchers of juice cost P500 and is good enough for about 7-8 people. Appetizers start at P50 and entrees are about P75-110 each.
Binaki is steamed cake made of grated young corn with powdered milk, baking powder and sugar mixed with water. It is a known delicacy of Northern Mindanao and was originally a homemade dessert in Bukidnon.

Cagayan de Oro is famous for its hams which are locally known as Jamon de Cagayan. Also known as leg ham, this product undergoes the long process of salt curing and natural smoking. Once it’s done, it comes out fully cooked and ready to serve. Jamon de Cagayan is even packed in traditional cloth bags called “katcha” which are symbolic of Southern comfort and warmth. This delicacy is being produced by the best local ham makers in the city namely SLERS Ham, Pines Ham (TGO Foods), and Oro Ham.

Cagayan de Oro’s crispy fried pork rind or chicharon is one snack you should absolutely try. SLERS’ chicharon in particular are huge! It’s mainly made of pork skin, salt, MSG, and spices. This sinful delicacy perfected the crunchiness and flavour of crispy pork rind. You can munch it as a snack or pair it with rice as a viand. Either way, this chicharon will surely make you crave for more
cushew nuts
literally means spicy-spicy in Cebuano. In some parts of Mindanao, it's a chicken dish with coconut milk and chili. But in Oroquieta City, halang-halang is a spicy clear beef broth which is served together with pork and chicken barbecue, andpuso (rice steamed in coconut leaves).
halang halang
Another famous delicacy in this city is its roasted cashew nuts. Originating mainly from Lumbia district, this product ushered in economic opportunities to its city residents. Lumbia is one of the barangays with abundant cashew trees. Most entrepreneurs export cashew nuts to other countries where there is great demand. The production of roasted cashew nuts in Cagayan de Oro started in 1970.

Turones de Mani
This delicacy is for those of you who love sweets. Turones de Mani is made of caramelized sugar, crushed peanuts coated with honey, wrapped in wafer. This can be easily found in souvenir or “pasalubong” shops. It’s sweet and crunchy combination is simply mouth watering. Your visit to Cagayan de Oro is not complete if you will not take home its famous Turones de Mani.
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