My friends and I had a recent weekend trip to Dinagat Island, the 80th province in the Philippines. We had many adventures there – trekking to the mystical Lake Bababu, swimming at beautifully deserted beaches and visiting the PBMA shrine, among many others.
I will talk about these in the succeeding blog posts but in the meantime, allow me to share some of the notable food stops we had at San Jose, the province’s capital.
Mabuhay Dina Gat Restaurant
We had most of our meals at the Mabuhay Dina Gat Restaurant since it’s located at the back of Bahay Turista, our comfortable accommodation in the island.
This airconditioned eatery serves typical Filipino viands. I particularly like their special halo-halo; it’s only Php60 and comes with a scoop of ice cream.
Located near the port, the spacious Denor offers an extensive menu – from burgers to bulalo. Our easy favorite here is their sizzling gambas, which was packed with heat.
Service was fast and the place is clean. I must also add that the restaurant staff were kind enough to allow us to eat the Php10 pork barbecues we bought at the nearby bakery.
And finally, this nameless balut store
Among the meals we had at Dinagat, the balut (boiled fertilized duck eggs) I had at this nameless store near Bahay Turista, was my most memorable. If you noticed in the photo, the balut in these parts are housed in a glass enclosure that’s constantly warmed by a light bulb underneath it.
It tasted like the balut I’ve had elsewhere, but the Dinagat version of the much-loved/much-hated Filipino delicacy had a noticeably clean aftertaste. Maybe the unique display has something to do with that. I do think however that this was partly because the owners themselves are the ones who cook each fresh batch. I’m not surprised why these delicious goodies are quickly wiped out by the locals every single evening.
Curiously, we did not have any seafood meal (well aside from the gambas) in Dinagat. We’ve been told though about Solomon Eatery, a locals-only place that serve affordable crabs, shells, squid and the like, but these easily sell out during lunch service.
How to get to Dinagat Province
Dinagat is located off the northeastern coast in Mindanao and can be reached by taking a public bangka (motorized outrigger boats) stationed by the boulevard at Surigao City. Fare is Php100 and travel time is approximately 1 hour.
You can reach Surigao by taking a commercial flight from Cebu or Manila. Alternatively, you can also take an overnight boat trip from Cebu.