Reading the posts on the internet describing the Filipino cuisine, you can easily become discouraged to eat in the Philippines right from the start. Personally, we think there are various alternatives to choose from. If you’ve tried a dish that doesn’t go with your taste, no worries, there are other culinary options to satisfy your stomach. Michal as a chef got even inspired by some dishes and decided to use this inspiration in the future.. 🙂
But very briefly: what is characteristic about the Filipino cuisine? Firstly, rice – as an integral component of each dish; secondly, sweet flavors; then: soy sauce often mixed with chili pepper and calamansi (lime) and soups which are often seasoned with a lot of garlic. Those who love sweets will also appreciate the fact that in the Philippines there are plenty of stalls / shops with donuts, cakes, sweet rolls (e.g. famous dessert ‘halo halo’ or a lot of strange flavors of ice cream such as e.g. potato ice cream called Ube with an intense purple color).
Here below you will find our proposals what to eat in the Philippines. There will be an alternative for chicken / pork adobo (chicken / pork in adobo sauce, which is often described as ‘no big deal’), kaldereta (a dish similar to meat stew) and other not particularly popular dishes.
- Let’s start with a typical Filipino breakfast (SILOG): the basic ingredients are rice and fried egg, and (depending on the choice of 1 out of 10 options from the menu in the photo below) you can have pork, sausage, fish or beef – quite a tasty meal for only 80 pesos / 1,50 EUR) in a typical Philippine diner.
2. Another breakfast option in case you’ve had enough of the silogs can be crepes or simply pancakes that you can buy on the street every day. They are served in different versions, eg. with mango and honey / sugar, banana and calamansi, or the European style ones – with Nutella or even peanut butter.
3. Noodles e.g. Chicken Mami. An important note – the Filipino word ‘noodle’ is in fact a ‘noodle soup’, and not just noodle. As along with Michal we are absolutely crazy about soups prepared by Asians, it couldn’t be the other way in the Philippines where we gobbled a lot of them. Chicken Mami – a broth-like soup seasoned with garlic turned out to be a bull’s eye. You can order different versions of it, ie. with bacon, seafood, but the ” base ” is always the same and it tastes like broth/consomme (alright.. maybe the taste of seafood soup is more intense). In the pic below you can see some generous portions in a restaurant in Panglao for only 80 pesos (1.50 EUR), too much to eat for 1 person, but absolutely enough for 2-3 people.
4.Cream soups. In the Philippines you can eat a lot of types of cream soups, eg. egg soup, asparagus soup and mushroom soup. Similarly to broth/consomme the cream soups are cooked using the same ”base”, they are delicate and sapid. The photo below was taken in a restaurant in Banaue.
5. Pork Sisig – served on a hot platter with crispy pieces of pork, vegetables, chilli pepper, calamansi (lime) and egg.
6. Pork Humba (another option is Chicken Humba) – a great alternative for the somewhat bland pork adobo. The dish is slightly sweetened by banana immersed in a delicious soy sauce. Other ingredients include: onion, egg, spices and pork itself which form a great combination of tastes.
7. Fresh grilled fish: bangus (silver fish) / lapu-lapu (a characteristic pink-red colored fish), fresh shrimps and mussels. In El Nido there is a pub by the seaside that is always full, where freshly caught fish and seafood disappear very quickly from the stands. They are not cheap: 300 pesos for 1 fish (8EUR), but they’re worth trying especially there in Palawan, as the fish in Panglao at Alona Beach in Bohol did not seem to be fresh. We had an opportunity to see some ladyboys seeling fish who packed their stuff in the evening and then on the next day displayed the same fish on the stand (don’t even want to know how many days they were displayed like that in the open air in 30 degrees…).
8. If you travel with a group of people (at least 4-5 people) take advantage and order a meal covering the whole table consisting of many options. You can order the below dish in Mangan Kayon Grill Restaurant in Puerto Princesa near the airport. The name is: boodle FEAST (for about 900 pesos) and includes the following igredients: sugba kilaw (pork, bacon), grilled squid, laing (a dish composed of dried leaves of taro and coconut milk), green mango fiesta, sweet grilled pork, chicken adobo, fried lamayo (fish danggit popular in Cebu), steamed crab, boneless bangus fish, rice and sauce.
9.Having in mind the street food we highly recommend bananas on a stick fried with sugar, thicker pancakes served with honey / sugar or a binakle popular in the mountain region of Ifugao in Luzón Island (made of dark glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk, also called malagkit, sprinkled with the so-called ” radhika” from a coconut). In Manila at the Divisoria market stalls you can also buy deep-fried breaded seafood, which you get on a stick and then dip it in sweet and sour sauce. Moreover, male part of our group found Siopao really tasty, which were steamed buns stuffed with sweet pork or chicken. And something nice that would appeal to anybody – fried veggie lumpia which are in fact spring rolls with vegetables, in case you want them with meet you will find this variant as well.
10. We are left with fruit! So called durian originating from Indonesia doesn’t seem convincing to us, however, there are other exotic fruit available in the Philippines: super-sweet mango, mangosteen, papaya, jackfruit, dragon fruit, rambutan, pomelo, santol and red bananas. For sure you will find something for yourselves!
11. And what to drink? Out of soft drinks you should definitely try fruit milkshakes and fresh fruit juices. Among the alcoholic drinks the most popular beer is San Miguel originally brought there by Spaniards (available in Light version) and Red Horse (Strong one), and the most powerful alcohol seems to beTanduay rum that tastes best with Coke, ice and calamansi (lime). In the Philippines in general the alcohol is available everywhere, there is also a lot of imported alcohol, but the local rum and beer are quite good so you don’t need to spend your money on the imported one.
And now sharing with you some general comments regarding the food: similarly to any Asian country you can have some stomach problems in the Philippines especially after eating street food. If you have a sensitive stomach, we don’t recommend deep-fried food from the stalls; it is also important to check how long the food is displayed there on the stand (but how can you know it at first glance?). Alternatively, we offer a glass of vodka to clear the ‘bug’ out of the stomach 🙂