I think what is great about living in Davao city is that you can be in the beaches of Samal island in less than 20 minutes. I went to Davao for diving and to experience their seafood and kinilaw (ceviche). My quest was to try some of the different versions of kinilaw in Davao.
Photo of tuna vendors at bankerohan market
Kinilaw, kilawin, or ceviche is raw fish with vinegar, ginger, and onions. Authentic kinilaw is made with the juice of tabon tabon. It is a very hard brown fruit about the size of a lemon. The center is scrapped and placed in small amounts of water or vinegar. Then only the pressed juice is added to kinilaw. Tabon tabon has astringent properties that remove the slime or “lansa” in fresh fish. It grows in Mindanao and is not easy to find. Photo of tabon tabon:
Davao restaurants we got to try:
Luz Kinilaw – Their version of kinilaw is fresh tuna cubes, grated ginger, sliced onions, and thinly sliced radishes. It has no vinegar or soy sauce and the tuna is served sashimi style. It is only P80(pesos). I enjoyed this simple version but you could always make a dipping sauce of calamansi, soy sauce, vinegar and chilies.
Luz Kinilaw is a halal restaurant located along Salmonan Quezon Boulevard. This hole in the wall serves good grilled fresh tuna but has no HACCP or sanitation standards. The place is dingy with low ceilings and florescent light bulbs. They have rectangular tables with mismatched tablecloths and mono-block chairs. The table next to us was eating durian and its stinky scent filled the room. I guess what makes this place popular is that it very reasonably priced. There is no menu so you need to choose from the grilled food on display at the entrance.
Panga – Jaw
Buntot – tail
Bagaybay – tuna fat
Bihod – tuna eggs
Marina Tuna – This restaurant in Barrio Pampanga claims to cook tuna 10 ways. Examples are tuna kare-kare, grilled, crunchy tail, sashimi, sizzling, and they even serve tuna eye soup. Their version of kinilaw contains tuna cubes, radish slices, cucumber, onions, and mayonnaise. The average price of the dishes meant for sharing is P180 to P220(pesos).
Penongs – is very popular in Davao for their sweet chicken barbecue. Their kinilaw is made with malasugue or swordfish. The fish cubes are mixed with thin slices of cucumber, radish, shredded green mango, and onion slices in vinegar. Only P130for an order.
Citra Mina – It is best to go to Citra Mina on the way to the airport for pasalubong. In Davao they have branches along Quimpo Blvd and in Bajada. The tuna in this shop is frozen and vacuum packed. They provide Styrofoam boxes and packing services. The prices are half of that in Manila. Imagine tuna panga is only P125 a piece! Penongs kinilaw