Kinabuchs Grill and Bar | Puerto Princesa, Palawan
I do not wonder anymore why Kinabuchs Grill and Bar along Rizal Avenue in Puerto Princesa City is very popular among Palaweños and non-Palaweños alike. The place may look like an abandoned parking lot during the day but it becomes a lively wateringhole at night. What it may lack in terms of fancy ambience, this restaurant superbly made up with good food at surprisingly low prices as well.
People also come here to sample the tamilok or wood worms. They are believed to be aphrodisiacs that are rich in protein and cholesterol too, a combination that may be beneficial for one body organ but also lethal for another. They are actually marine bivalve mollusks that bore into mangroves and even man-made wooden structures that are submerged in sea water. Had it been that they were named plainly as wood oysters, perhaps those who cringe at the idea of eating a raw worm would be more comforted and those who are looking for an exotic fix would not be too curious with the dish.
I first learned about the tamilok from Karen Davila’s report for The Correspondents. But it is quite different to finally see one up close. Jane and Zhuns, my gracious hosts that fateful evening, asked me if I am up for a Fear Factor experience at Kinabuchs. Since I came this far already in my trip, I grabbed that opportunity without much hesitation at all.
Much to my surprise, the slimy creatures tasted better than raw oysters. It does not have a fishy aftertaste like the swaki or sea urchin. It also served as an incredible pulutan to the ice cold beers we ordered. It also became the jumping board for all the conversations that transpired afterwards.
Aside from the Tamilok Creviche (Php115), we also had Labo-labong Gulay (Php110), Tuna Panga (Php185) and many more. The Sizzling Pork Sisig (Php160) was a delightful revelation as the dish is creamy and less greasy compared to what is usually served in most Filipino restaurants.
The waitress told us that the Kanin ni 04 (Php90.00, stir-fried rice with shredded dried fish and bits of vegetables), was named as such because its recipe was personally formulated by no less than Hagedorn himself, the famous mayor of Puerto Princesa. The Palaweños affectionately call him as “04.”
The Croc Adobado (Php300.00, crocodile meat stewed in coconut milk, seasoning and spices) almost stole the spotlight from the the wood worms as it was all our first time to eat the dish. I remember holding a 3-year old crocodile earlier in the afternoon at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC). I thought that the ones on our plate could be one of its cousins. But I would learn later that the PWRCC does not sell (or even slaughter) their crocodiles to any local restaurant. Kinabuchs must have sourced their exotic meat elsewhere.
Because each dish came in large serving sizes (good for 3-4 persons in my estimate) the price of each was a bargain indeed. That being said, I really broke my imaginary diet restrictions that night. We also would have finished up everything if not for my sudden sinusitis attack. But despite my runny nose, my experience at Kinabuchs was still unforgettable.
A wonderful meal for me only comprises the following: good food at reasonable prices and wonderful conversations with friends. I had those and so much more at Kinabuchs. Thanks to Jane and Zhuns, I had the best dinner so far this year.
Kinabuchs Bar and Grill
349 Rizal Avenue
Puerto Princesa City, Philippines
Contact Number: +63 48 434-5194