Manila Menu

The poor cousin when it comes to Asian cuisine, Filipino food has gone through a bit of a revolution over the last few years and is starting to gain a deserved foothold in the world’s food scene. Gone are the duck embryos and fried pig’s heads, and in their place are delicious hawker style dishes, vegetarian delights and delicate seafood dishes.

We’ve found our 5 favourite things to try in the Philippines and where to try them, so the next time you eat them, you can eat like a local!

1. Halo-halo

Summer in Manilla is hot, and the locals try to remedy even add sweet potato and jackfruit to really up the ante. Anthony Bourdain even described halo-halo as “oddly beautiful”, which is a pretty perfect way, to sum up this delicious little drink.

Where to try it:
Any local counter you can find, but we lived the “minimalist halo-halo” found at Razon’s of Guagua.

Halo-halo – Filipino dessert with yam ice-cream.

2. Buko pie

Buko pie stands are found on nearly every corner. Traditionally a homecoming gift upon returning to Manilla, buko pie is similar to a custard pie or curd tart, but with a dense filling made with cream and sweetened condensed milk.

Where to try it:
Wildflour, sister restaurant to a place in Los Angeles named Republique, serve a heftier pie with a thick layer of coconut on the bottom.

3. Fried chicken

Every Asian cuisine has their take on fried fowl, and Filipino food culture is no different. And it’s just as delicious here as anywhere else!

Where to try it:
Max’s fried chicken is exceptional. A restaurant that got off the found selling chicken to American GI’s, Max’s is now a must visit whenever you’re in the Philippines.

4. Kinilaw

Like ceviche, kinilaw mixes cuts of fresh fish, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and chillies into a small stream of coconut vinegar and citrus, with some regions even battering the fish in folds of coconut cream. Delicious, creamy and acidic, kinilaw is a delightful, palate cleansing starter.

Where to try it:
Manilla’s wet markets down on Macapagal Boulevard have a bunch of places that let you pick your own seafood and then go to a nearby restaurant and they’ll whip you up your own personalised kinilaw.

5. Kare-kare

While adobo has somehow managed to become the unofficial patron dish of the Philippine, kare-kare is the dish that should soon start stealing some of the spotlights.

Using vegetables like daikon, Chinese cabbage and eggplant mixed with pieces of oxtail stewed in a thick peanut sauce made with annatto and peanut butter, it’s a rich, hearty and delicious meal.

The sauce almost tastes like a mild satay and works best with rice with a spoonful of bagoong (shrimp paste).

Where to try it:
The Milky Way Cafe has become an institution in Manila’s dining landscape thanks to its dedication to Filipino staples. The kare-kare here is as authentic as it gets and well worth the visit.

Kare-kare – Philippine stew in thick savoury peanut sauce.

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