When in Davao City and in the mood for food and shopping, the best (and cheapest) place to go is the Roxas Night Market. The spot has gained huge popularity among locals and even visitors of Davao City due to its accessibility and the variety of things you can find.
Roxas Night Market is Nirvana for the seasoned bargain hunter and avid street food eater. Being both, I dragged my husband to the busy street one Friday night. The Roxas Night Market is located smack in the middle of Roxas Avenue, home to Ateneo de Davao University, Aldevinco Shopping Center and a good number of restaurants, cafes and hotels.
Commuting to Roxas Avenue is quite straightforward from anywhere in Davao City. Almost all jeepney routes pass by or through the street so it’s easy to get there. I recommend not bringing a private vehicle to Roxas because parking space is very scarce and you wouldn’t want to park in a dimly-lit alley. Although the place is well-guarded and secured by the police, it pays to play it safe.
Food You Will Find at the Roxas Night Market
Roxas Night Market is not quite like the night markets like Manila’s Soderno and Mercato Centrale. It is more like Cebu’s Colon Night Market which can be described in the native dialect as “inato”. There are no elaborate displays of food and goods at the Roxas Night Market, instead there are makeshift stalls and food carts, small tables and low stools and lots and lots of items to choose from. The vendors don’t have to pay a lot for rent, provided that they clean up the mess and make sure the gutters remain free of their waste.
Here are some things you will find and enjoy at the Roxas night Market.
Isaw is basically chicken intestines clean, boiled, skewered, barbecued and slathered with a spicy sauce. This may seem gross at first but give it a whirl and you’ll be hooked. The smokiness of the sauce and the soft-gooey texture of the intestines are perfect appetizers. These babies are also great with rice but I prefer them without. I could eat ten sticks of these in one sitting.
Sugba is the local term for grilling. If you’re in the mood for a heavy meal, there are stations that offer grilled fresh seafood served with rice and your beverage of choice. You get to shop for your choice of seafood and have it served right off the grill.
Prito, on the other hand, is frying. Fried food is also a main stay at the Roxas Night Market. Be it fried dumplings, fried chicken, fried chicken skin or innards (intestines, liver, or proventriculus) , there’s something that will capture your taste buds. Also, the dips are addictive, especially the spicy ones.
Tok Neneng and Kwek Kwek
The orange batter might look weird but this is what makes tok neneng and kwek kwek unique from the rest of the boiled egg treats at the Roxas Night Market. Tok Neneng are boiled quail eggs (sold per piece), dipped in the orange batter, deep fried then served with a side of seaweed salad. Kwek-kwek is basically the same but is made from either boiled chicken egg or balut.
Fish Balls, Tempura and Squid Balls
Don’t be weirded out by the funky colors of these fried treats. Fish balls (white), squid balls (pink), shrimp balls (orange), tempura, kikiam and other fried stuff are best served drowning in a sweet-spicy sauce and a cup of ice-cold buko juice.
Mang Danny’s Ice Cream
What used to be a simple dirty ice cream cart has captured the attention of Roxas Night Market prowlers in recent months. Locals are going crazy over Mang Danny’s Ice Cream which according to those who have tried it, tastes just like Gelato but cheaper. There’s always a very long line for Mang Danny’s ice cream; some people arrive as early as 6PM and wait until 9PM for the old ice cream vendor to arrive with his frozen treats.
Shopping at the Roxas Night Market
After having your fill (or first round) of street food, there’s the ukay-ukay where you can burn off all those calories. The term is coined from the act of rummaging through (ukay) piles of items, be it clothing, shoes, bags, even stuffed toys. These items are from all over the world, mostly from Goodwill and other second hand shops.
Filipinos are very fond of thrift shopping and Roxas Night Market provides a great venue for this. I am a self-proclaimed expert bargain hunter and have scored great finds like dresses and shoes for Adie, shorts for myself and cardigans for my mother, all below P100 (roughly USD $2).
You’ll find all sorts of stuff on display: there are even authentic Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada bags for sale. Very popular among male shoppers are branded training shoes and sneakers that are slightly used and just need some cleaning. Popular brands like Coach, Sisley, Kipling, Nine West and Dooney and Burke are also available of you know where to look.
There’s a lot more to find at the Roxas Night Market: accessories, brand new clothing and footwear, even sidewalk massage stations. There’s something for everyone!
The Roxas Night Market is something you should visit at least one while in Davao City. The good things is that it’s open all nights of the week, although the best time to go is during the weekends when the vendors are in full force. See you this weekend!
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