Celebrating the Flavours of Mindanao at the Polo Bistro

Disclaimer: This is the full feature from my The Royal Chef column on Edge Davao.

We all like to be different – but for Marco Polo Davao, it’s way more fun if you can re-create a new something out of an already existing something. And it not only involves flavours. It involves reconnecting with one’s roots.

Heightened experience, a moment of serenity. It’s not every day that we encounter dishes that reminds us of our roots – of a rich history that moulded us to be the individuals that we are today. Most often we settle for the ‘usual’. For the ‘mainstream’. In the process, we forget the beauty of the flavours of the past.

For a Maguindanaon like me, it’s not every day that I taste the flavours of home. Not that I do not know how to cook…in reality, I do. But I always end up with a variation of an old favourite. And that’s despite the repeated phone calls to my parents asking for cooking instructions. (the beauty of technology when you are living in different zip codes!)

This Kadayawan 2016, make it even more memorable and celebrate the flavours of the tribes of Mindanao at the Polo Bistro of Marco Polo Davao. What they have is a feast of classic favourites – some of which are served traditionally in homes and during celebrations. For some, their menu is a reflection of home while for others, it is a gastronomic adventure that would soon be a new favourite.

A four (4) course meal reflective of traditions, the menu features the many staples of the different tribes residing in Mindanao that form part of their cultures. Marco Polo Davao Executive Chef Alex Destriza said that the dishes were inspired by the eleven (11) tribes of Mindanao. Preparation wise, it was not easy. He had to read books after another to get a feel of the dishes. The outcome? Dishes that reminded us of home.


For the appetizer, choose from two (2) dishes from the Maguindanaw tribe. Plated ostentatiously, each dish complemented the taste of one another. Get your cravings satisfied with Laman na Pinudsan (Salted Duck Egg) and Piaren a Seda a Barilis (Spicy Tuna). PS: The Spicy Tuna is a must try!


Soup is everyone’s favourite Mongo and roasted whole garlic served with 24 hours braised beef ribs adobo. The marriage of flavours is one for the palate to remember. It’s rich, succulent and savoury in every bite.


Main dish is a selection of two (2) dishes from the Jangan and Maguindanaw tribes. If you love chicken and is craving for that oomph in your dishes, then go ahead and indulge with their Linotlot nga Manok (Chicken cooked in Bamboo). If beef is your cup of tea, then the Landang (Beef cooked in coconut milk) is the one for you. Both dishes are served with Sinigapuna (Yellow Rice) from the Kalagan tribe.



Dessert is an explosion — a sweet explosion. What they have is a Trio from the Sama and Tausug tribes. This time you won’t need to choose … you get to try them all. Wadjet Nakadurian (Durian Rice Cake), Daral (Daral) and Pasung (Steamed cone cake) will surely make you smile from ear to ear in an instant.

Mindanao Tribes Set Menu at the Polo Bistro is available from August 12 until 22, 2016. Php 990/net per person.

Polo Bistro at the Marco Polo Davao is located at the 4th Level, Marco Polo Davao, CM Recto Avenue, Davao City
For reservations, you may call them at 082 221 0888.

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