Filipino food

Sinigang de Kagay-an: Making the world’s ‘best soup’ in 2021 even better

Mike Baños
Sinigang de Kagay-an: Making the world’s ‘best soup’ in 2021 even better

TWIST. Cagayan de Oro City's Fat Chef's twist to the favorite Filipino dish – sizzling sinigang beef gravy.

Fat Chef Restaurant

TasteAtlas acknowledges the dish as the world's best-rated vegetable soup, describing it as unique and representative of Filipino cuisine

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – From being adjudged the world’s best vegetable soup in 2020, food and travel website TasteAtlas now rates the Philippines’ sinigang na baboy (pork soup) as the world’s best soup in 2021.

Sinigang topped the soup category of TasteAtlas’ Best Traditional Food in the World Awards 2021 with a 4.63 rating, ahead of Romania’s Ciorbă de fasole cu afumătură, (4.55), Japan’s Shoyu ramen (4.54), Turkey’s Mercimek çorbası (4.53), and Japan’s Tonkotsu ramen (4.50). 

Last year, TasteAtlas also acknowledged the Filipino dish as the world’s best-rated vegetable soup. It described the sinigang as a unique soup that is a true representative of Filipino cuisine “with its sour lightness perfectly matching the harsh tropical heat of the country.”

In Cagayan de Oro City, you can take a sinigang food crawl to savor and appreciate the various local twists on this global favorite with Chali Beach Resort and Convention Center, Cucina Higala, Boy Zugba, Mesa Cagayan de Oro, and Fat Chef restaurant.

Ging Abogado Chaves, who manages her family-owned Chali Beach Resort and Conference Center with her daughter Saz Chaves Eullaran, said they use only locally-sourced ingredients for their sinigang.

Chali serves sinigang – shrimp, fish and pork with vegetables – using the traditional sampalok (tamarind), kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi), and green mangoes.

Chaves’ daughter Saz has her own restaurant, RibsnBibs, that serves the same dish but with a twist. She added guava to give it an extra kick. But that’s an added cost because guava is a seasonal fruit.

At Cucina Higala, green mangoes are used to make its sinigang more soury, and blend with the kangkong (water spinach), okra (lady’s fingers or gumbo), string beans, radish, eggplant, green chili, and ginger ingredients, said Joe Jake Almodobar, the restaurant’s manager. 

Chef Joanna Yu of the popular Boy Zugba, which has branched out all over the country, said their sinigang ulo sa salmon sa miso (salmon head in miso soup base), and sinigang na baboy have become their most popular soup dishes.

“Our sinigang ulo sa salmon sa miso has a sinigang base with miso for umami flavor,” Yu said.

Boy Zugba’s sinigang na baboy also uses the local pineapple as a souring agent.

Mesa Cagayan de Oro at Centrio Mall likewise uses the ubiquitous pineapple with guava as the souring agents for its sinigang na baboy.

MOUTH WATERING. Mesa Cagayan de Oro’s makes use of the ubiquitous pineapple and guava as the souring agents for its sinigang na baboy. (Courtesy of Mesa Cagayan de Oro)

Not the least, Fat Chef takes another twist to the global favorite with its sizzling sinigang beef short plate in gravy.

That’s just a sampling of the variety of tastes and ingredients inveterate foodies can look forward to when they do a sinigang food crawl in the City of Golden Friendship’s flagship restaurants. 

Who knows what hidden gems still lie in the less trodden paths of Cogon market, and the food parks in Gaisano, Limketkai, and Pueblo de Oro uptown? There’s only one way to find out. –

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