Pepper Guide: A Walk through Quiapo Muslim Town

November 4, 2019

Quiapo’s importance to the Filipino people is undeniable. It’s both a center for Catholic faith and a historic political site. But unknown to many, it’s also a thriving Muslim Town. We ventured to the area with Meaningful Travels PH to learn more about Moro culture, tradition, and—of course—food. Here’s a guide to what you should eat on your next trip to the other side of Quiapo.

Arab-Asian Cuisine

A large part of Metro Manila’s Muslim society come from South Asia, so it’s no surprise that places such as Arab Asian Resto Cafe carry some Indian favorites. They served us roti, a grilled flatbread, and sweet paratha‘s (similar to roti, but layered) with condensed milk, as well as our choice of teh tarik (pulled tea) or native coffee from Marawi.


Walking along the streets, one of our guides pointed out a jeep hawking a load of durian fruit—a rare sight in Metro Manila. The vendors told us that it came all the way from Davao. We can’t assure that this is a regular thing, though. So if you can’t get your hands on an actual fruit, you can take home some durian preserve instead. (Durian sandwiches, anyone?)

Palapa and Pusan

Muslim Town’s market offers a variety halal spices and ingredients. Palapa is one of the more famous products (and a Pepper team favorite). The spicy condiment is made out of scallions, ginger, chili, and turmeric. There’s also a variation that has toasted coconut.

Pusan, another staple condiment, is similar to bagoong alamang or ginamos. It’s made with tiny shrimp, mixed with tomatoes, chilies, and palapa.

Pinatayong isda

At the corners of the halal market, you’ll find pinatayong isda. These skewered tunas are smoked, both for flavor and preservation; and are displayed in the open.

We also caught a glimpse of one of the vendors carving scallions. According to the ate, she will use them to make more palapa. Alternatively, you can buy a bunch of scallions to make your own palapa at home.

Maranao CuIsine

Our tour concluded in Junaira, one of the halal restaurants in the area serving traditional or home-cooked Maranao cuisine. Lunch started with turmeric soup, a yellow-ish sabaw with a few pieces of chicken or beef. Each person had a binalot-style serving of rice called pater, which had an insanely flavorful serving of grilled flaked meat on the side.

We had kinilaw, an indispensable Maranao dish, usually made with tabuntabun and native lemons to balance the taste of the raw fish. We also tried chicken piaparan, a chicken cooked in both gata and coconut meat. For dessert, we took home some biyaki, a savory-ish cassava cake with corn wrapped in a banana leaf.

Jica Simpas Jica Simpas

Jica hopes that by writing about food she'll actually learn how to cook. But for now, she'll happily just eat everything—especially cookies.

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