Dulang Is the Mindanaoan Banquet Platter You Need to Try; Here's Where You Can Get It in QC

Palm Grill is highlighting the flavors of ZamBaSulTa.

palm grill, zambasulta menu
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

(SPOT.ph) What comes to mind when you think of Filipino food? Sure, there’s adobo, sinigang, sisig—the popular Pinoy fare that tends to be most familiar to us in the Metro, and they’re definitely drool-worthy in their own right. But go beyond Luzon and you’ll find a whole treasure trove of regional fare that all deserve their share of the spotlight as well. For one, the ZamBaSulTa area (a.k.a. Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi) in Southwestern Mindanao is home to dishes that deliver intoxicating aromas and full-on flavors that are a tad more spice-forward than other regional cuisines in the Philippines—and you bet they are as soulful as they are scrumptious. These are sadly hard to come by in Manila, but we've got just the thing if you're looking to try them out without leaving the city. Yup, Palm Grill in Quezon City has come out with new dishes that shine the spotlight on ZamBaSulTa's signature flavors. 

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Also read:
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Drop by Filipino restaurant Palm Grill and try these new ZamBaSulTa dishes:

Palm Grill recently turned five years old—and though the Tomas Morato establishment initially focused on chicken dishes with Mindanaoan flair (co-owner Miguel Moreno and his family hail from Jolo, Sulu), this time around it’s all about the more traditional eats of the area, given their own spin where applicable. “After five years, we finally have a clearer identity—hence we are able to solidify our brand and image as the only restaurant in Metro Manila that serves authentic cuisine from South of Mindanao,” Moreno shares in an exchange with SPOT.ph. “We decided to celebrate [our anniversary] with the rebrand and the introduction of new dishes, which are traditionally of the ZamBaSulTa region.”

palm grill, zambasulta
Palm Grill is launching these new ZamBaSulTa dishes in line with their fifth annivesary. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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There’s the Pianggang Manok (starts at P290/solo), which is definitely not your textbook roast or grilled poultry. A Tausug classic, this chicken dish emanates a wonderfully robust aroma the moment it arrives at your table—and its blackened exterior makes way to succulent meat within with the characteristic smokiness of burnt coconut echoed their blend of seven spices. Moreno explains that their take on the dish differs from many others in that it’s grilled low and slow, rendering the meat (even the white parts!) tender and flavorful.

palm grill, zambasulta menu, pianggang manok
The Pianggang Manok is a must-try with its smoky, spiced flavor profile and tender meat.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

Up for a spunky bite? The Deep-Fried Pampano in Sambal (P680) pays ode to the culinary relationship between Malaysia and the Sulu Archipelago, featuring pompano fried to a crisp and topped with sambal that’s part-savory, part-sweet, and just the right amount of spicy. Similarly feisty in flavor, the Belachan Manuk (P200) has a spiced fillet of chicken that's served with a bagoong-esque paste of crushed shrimp fermented with salt and spices.

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palm grill, zambasulta menu, deep-fried pompano
Fried fish gets a spunky upgrade with a topping of sambal in the Deep-Fried Pampano.  
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
palm grill, zambasulta menu, belachan manuk
A dipping sauce of belachan breathes extra feistiness into strips of grilled, spiced chicken in the Belachan Manuk. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

On the more soothing end of the spectrum is the Tiyula Itum (P390), a traditional Tausug beef soup with a telltale blackened shade, thanks to burnt coconut—which also lends it its distinct taste and aroma. The protein part of the equation comes via beef and a half-bone with marrow—which the server comes over to torch as it's served on the table, charring the outside and melting the unctuous marrow within. Appearance aside, it’s surprisingly mellow in flavor, with a smoky backbone that’s tinged with galangal, turmeric, and lemongrass. 

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palm grill, zambasulta menu, tiyula itum
As the Tiyula Itum is served, the server torches the bone marrow that tops the bowl.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
palm grill, zambasulta menu, tiyula itum
The dish is comparable to bulalo, but with a smokier backbone and hint of spices and aromatics. 
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

For a little bit of everything, don’t miss the Dulang (P1,199)—a Royal Banquet staple typically served during special occasions. Their version features a medley of flavor profiles that range from stick-to-your-ribs to zingy to bright, as it's got Beef Kulma, their zesty Green Chicken, Tiyula Itum, Pianggang Manok, devil’s eggs (hard-boiled eggs that are battered and fried), turmeric rice, and a radish salad, all served in individual bowls intricately laid out on a metal platter that's perfect for sharing.

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palm grill, zambasulta menu, dulang
You're bound to feel like royalty with the banquet staple known as Dulang at the center of your table.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

And yup, you’ll definitely want to leave room for dessert here. Palm Grill serves a stellar homemade Durian Ice Cream (P190) that’s rich and velvety on the tongue, with a balanced amount of durian flavor (it’s definitely there, but it ain’t too pungent!) and just the right amount of sweetness. It’s then topped with lokot-lokot—the Mindanaoan delicacy of a rice-based mixture that’s strained, fried, and glazed, resulting in a crisp-crackly treat we’d liken to a cross between fritters and and tulle cookies—for welcome textural contrast.

palm grill, zambasulta menu, durian ice cream
Palm Grill makes their own Durian Ice Cream that's rich and velvety, highlighting the fruit's natural custardy character—and tops it with the crisp-crackly delicacy known as lokot-lokot.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes
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palm grill, zambasulta menu, lokot-lokot, baulo de zambo
You can also pick up packs of lokot-lokot and baulo de zambo (another classic confection from the region, comparable to an eggy snack cake) to take home.
PHOTO BY Patricia Baes

"Our goal moving forward is to continue what we have started and offer more interesting dishes that will highlight ZamBaSulTa [and] the culture and history that comes with every specialty," Moreno shares. Wherever in the country you may hail from, we say it's well worth expanding your knowledge on what Filipino cuisine is about—and can't wait to see what they've got next.

Palm Grill is at 175 Tomas Morato Avenue corner Scout Castor Street, Diliman, Quezon City. For more information, check out Palm Grill: Authentic Cuisine from South of Mindanao’s Facebook page.

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