Philippines is blessed with creativity and resourcefulness that we can turn even the weirdest, most bizarre and exotic food ingredients into delectable, mouth-watering and tasty Filipino dishes. Visayas and Mindanao are no exception.

Here are the five most exotic dishes from the central and southern parts of the country that you would want to try when you visit these places.  Although these dishes can also be found in some other parts of the country or the world, the food prepared from these places had always made a good and lasting impression from travellers, local and foreign.

1. Satti in Zamboanga City

Satti is an authentic Zamboanga dish that is similar to Satay in Malaysia except that the grilled beef or chicken are all mixed into one plate of overflowing hot sauce. It is spicy and a little sweet but it tastes good especially when paired with another Zamboanga delicacy called lokot-lokot (a delicacy made of rice flour).

Jimmy’s Satti | Photo by Robert Lim

Price per serving: P30-P50

This is a breakfast meal in Zamboanga and satti stores open up as early as 4 am and close at midday. So if you plan to visit the place, make sure to spice up your morning with a bowl of satti and a chat with the locals. You can check Jimmy’s Satti, a highly recommended local restaurant serving satti at its finest.

Exact Location: Pilar St., Zamboanga City

2. Pan-Q in Iligan City

We all grew up eating traditional skewered food cooked over hot charcoals – banana cue, camote cue, and barbecue. In Iligan City, they have Pan-Q.

Pan-Q is just like the traditional skewered food brushed with sweet and spicy sauce but is made of bread with chicken liver inside. Although there is really nothing special about the taste, it is still a good try once you’re in Iligan City knowing that this type of skewered food originated from this place.

Photo from Pan Q C Park
Photo from Pan Q C Park

Price: P10

Location where this is sold: Palao, Iligan City (before in Children’s Park, San Miguel, Iligan City)

3. Palapa in Marawi City

The palapa is a common spicy side dish by Maranaos, a Muslim tribe living in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. This is made of ginger, coconut, onions, garlic, salt and sakurab, a type of shallot that grows in cooler mountain regions.

Photo by Juhayra Mnblng
Photo by Juhayra Mnblng

Palapa can be found in almost every household and eatery in the city since it is a staple that gives a spicy kick to viands and rice. For the people in Marawi, no meal is complete without it. It is herby, aromatic, and savory. Once you taste it, you’ll want to add it to all your meals.  

Price: P5-P10 per small serving

4. Salawaki (Sea Urchins) in Bohol

When we were still younger, we were told by our parents to always keep an eye on sea urchins because their stings are painful and they often leave puncture wounds on the skin, which can easily become infected if not treated immediately.

In Bohol, it is common to eat sea urchins fresh and raw. Sea urchins are known to be aphrodisiacs. They are usually served with vinegar, toyo, or calamansi. For first-timers, your reflexes might tell you to spit it out once it’s in your mouth because it’s gooey and slimy and salty (literally, it’ll taste like the sea) and creamy. But just let it slide through your throat. After all, it’s a life-changing experience to eat the thing that made us shiver when we were young.

Photo by Possible Covenant
Photo by Jasmin Amores Noquiao Montellano

Though very popular in Bohol, this exotic food can also be seen in most beach islands in Visayas and Mindanao.

Price: P60-P70 per kilo

5. Tuslob-Buwa in Cebu

Cebu’s very own Tuslob-Buwa is always a must-try for people living outside the region.  

It roughly translates to “dip in bubbles”. Its chief ingredients are pork liver and brain, which get sautéed with garlic, onions, shrimp paste, soy sauce or fish sauce and chilis. This dish is best eaten with hanging rice (puso). It is also usually served from a street cart in a large, bubbling wok and is meant to be shared with friends and family.


  • Set with 12 pcs puso (hanging rice)
  • Regular: P150
  • Special: 180 with chicharon bits, egg, roasted garlic


Indeed, when it comes to food, our country never runs out of choices. So when the situation gets better, be sure to pack up your things and experience not just the beauty of Visayas and Mindanao but also, its food options that will tease your taste buds.

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