Makansutra: Davao City’s eats are fit for a President
Check out Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's humble go-to eateries in his hometown
Davao City in the Philippines, originally known for its Puyat durians, is now better recognised as the home town of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The maverick politician has a penchant for the simpler things in life, and it is evident from his fashion sense - he is often in T-shirts - and choice of food.
I had a chance to visit Davao City, where he was the mayor before becoming president, and check out three of his favourite and now famous carinderia (local canteens). I was humbled by his choice of places.
LUZ KINILAW PLACE
Salmonan Quezon Boulevard,
8000 Davao City
7am to midnight daily
It is a simple and non-air-conditioned streetside cafe - comfort is not one of its key draws.
Out front and by the road sits a barbecue grill, where tuna steaks and seafood are cooked over a wood fire.
"(Mr Duterte) loves his tuna steaks, Davao-style kinilaw (a raw seafood dish) and barbecued squid," said owner Madam Luz Polache, adding that she remembers his last visit in January 2016 "before he became very busy with the election".
The huge tuna steaks, especially the jowls, are so popular here because of their freshness.
Davao City sits by one of the most abundant oceans in that part of the world, and you can taste the moistness of the fish.
Davao-style kinilaw is made of sashimi tuna cubes tossed with onions.
You dip them in a tangy combo of soy sauce, lime, chilli and garlic, and it is unlike the common style, where the cubes are mixed together like a salad.
SANA'S CARINDERIA - ORIGINAL KABAWAN
J Luna Extension, 8000 Davao City
8am to 6pm daily
Madam Sana Valles' carinderia, just across from Luz Kinilaw Place, is dank and rickety.
But it serves up some of the best bulalo (beef soup) and beef tapa (dried beef floss).
Try having a spoonful of the beef tapa over rice and a bowl of bulalo, and you will understand why Filipinos - not to mention Mr Duterte - swoon over these dishes at mere mention.
A peep into the sooty and seasoned little kitchen told me that these dishes are artisan work.
Nothing is store-bought.
The bulalo was nicely sweetened by corn, and it has a little chunk of beef bone marrow, which adds to the robustness of the soup. It pairs well with rice.
And when sprinkled with some beef tapa, it is something everyone will line up for.
Dona Luisa Phase 1 and Quimpo Boulevard, Ecoland
5am to 7pm daily
Thrunks has been around for only six years, but I can see why Mr Duterte "sometimes knocked on our doors an hour before we open at 5am", according to owner Letlet Castinieto.
She explained that the then mayor occasionally did his famous patrolling rounds around that time.
The bamboo, wood and plastic eatery is a "turo-turo", or economical rice joint.
But its speciality - one that pleasantly surprised me - was the lamb monggo, a thick and lightly gamey green bean soup kicked up a notch by lamb ribs.
Mr Duterte also likes the paksiw, or braised vinegar, chilli and soy sauce fish.
Give me the chance and I will also be knocking on Thrunks' door at 5am for the lamb monggo, holding a loaf of pandesal (baguette) ready for a dipping.