After staying in the Philippines for nearly three months, it should not come as a surprise that my taste buds have adjusted to the local food. There are many Filipino foods that I learned to love, but what truly caught my heart is the street food.
There are many types of street food in the country, some of which are only found in specific regions. Below I listed some of the popular Philippines street food that are worth trying out when you visit the country.
Of course, the first one is the king of Philippine’s street food. If you meet a local, it’s almost automatic for them to ask you if you have tried balut. These are the 21-day-old fertilized duck eggs that may look revolting for Western culture – mainly because you literally see the hairy duck fetus inside the egg. It is one of the most iconic delicacies in the country, but also the most infamous one.
Here’s a great collage of how to eat Balut from Anna Garcia via Flickr (CC2.0)
This one can be easily seen everywhere especially on the streets of Manila. This is a quail or duck boiled egg battered in an orange-colored mixture and deep-fried in vegetable oil. It is dipped or doused with vinegar mixture or sweet and spicy brown sauce.
Many Filipino dishes are heavily influenced by Chinese culture. If you like Chinese food, this dish may be a little bit familiar to you. Siomai is small dumpling made with a meat and vegetable filling and wrapped in a special wrapper. They are steamed and dipped in soy sauce and calamansi, or the local version of lime.
Ihaw-ihaw is literally translated to “grill-grill”. Filipinos like repeating words! Basically, ihaw-ihaw is a variety of grilled street food on a skewer. Barbecue in the Philippines is definitely different from what you probably are used to. Eating barbecue in the Philippines could pass as a challenge in Fear Factor. From pigs’ intestines, blood, and ears, to chickens’ feet, head, and heart, they don’t waste any parts of the animal.
Fish Ball, Squid Ball, and Kikiam
Just as previously mentioned, these three dishes also come on skewers, except they are deep-fried. This may remind you of something you have seen before, especially in other Asian cuisines, but the ones in the Philippines are more personalized, depending on the vendor. The dipping sauce also plays a big part in its overall taste. The sauce is available in sweet, sweet and spicy, and vinegar mixture, usually with chopped onion, pepper, and other spices.
This is definitely my favorite! Who would have thought you can cook banana with lumpia wrapper? Cheap and delicious, these are plantains or cooking bananas rolled in brown sugar, sometimes added with a strip of jackfruit and wrapped in lumpia wrapper, then deep-fried in vegetable oil. They are amazingly delicious. They are perfect for dessert, topped with ice cream, but they are more common as street food. Turon is a much-loved filipino snack.
Chicharon is the same as the Chicharrón or Chicharrónes that are also common in Latin countries. This is not surprising, given that aside from Chinese influence, the food in the Philippines will also remind you of Spanish dishes, as the country was colonized by Spaniards for more than 300 years. Chicharon is crispy and crunchy pork rinds, best eaten when dipped in coconut vinegar with smashed fresh garlic. These are commonly seen during a Filipino drinking session or ‘tagay’ session, as the locals call them. They make great Filipino snacks.
After enjoying different street food delicacies, some local drinks would be necessary to complete it all, and buko juice will not disappoint. This is a drink made up of fresh buko or coconut water, with some sugar, milk, and ice cubes that will help you survive the hot weather of the country. If you are looking for a healthier version, you can ask if they have fresh buko juice without extra sweeteners, and drink the refreshments straight from the shell. Usually, this drink does not need sweeteners, as it is already sweet.
Iskrambol, which comes from the phrase “ice scramble,” is another popular Filipino street refreshment, which consists of shaved ice, sugar, milk, extract and pink coloring. Popular during summer, they are quick to prepare and sometimes topped with chocolate syrup, small marshmallows, chocolate chips, or other sweets. I’m so mind-blown how this street food was so well put together. While this may have similarities with other country’s version of shaved ice, the Filipino version remains my favorite.
Now, this is probably the most popular drink on the list. It is also one of the most recreated drink in the Philippines, as you will find different variants of this from town to town. Basically, sago at gulaman, or tapioca and gelatin in English, are sweet drinks with tapioca and cubed gelatin. In a hot tropical country, like the Philippines, where it is sunny 70% of the year, this sweet, colorful drink is a perfect refreshment that will help you survive the hot weather.
Filipinos love eating. In fact, they also like seeing other people eating that when you visit their household, the first question you will get is, “Have you already eaten?” If not, prepare your appetite for some culinary adventure, as they don’t like food being left on the table!
Aside from having some of the best beaches in the world and endless things to do, street foods in the Philippines are very interesting and worth trying out. Hopefully, this list guides you in finding which delicacies to try on your trip.
Have you been? What were your favorite street foods in the Philippines that you tried?
If you have other question regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the box below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m Alice, the founder of ForTravelista.com. Moving from places to places for the last two years, I learned how to live life from different perspectives. I aim to share knowledge and experiences I gained from my trips to encourage others to also experience the life outside their comfort zone. Follow me on my adventures!