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10 famous foods you must try in the Philippines

10 famous foods you must try in the Philippines

If you believed half the blogs about the Filipino cuisine, you’d think it was one of the worst places on earth for a foodie. But this is simply not the case!

We found many traditional yummy prizes to enjoy and with the exception of balut, here’s our 10 famous foods (and drinks!) we loved and think everyone must try when visiting the Philippines.

#1 Chicken adobo: the famous Filipino dish

Chicken adobo is one of the most famous foods to try in the Philippines, known and loved by everyone.

chicken adobo famous foods in Philippines

Trying our first chicken adobo on Boracay island

Adobo means “marinade” in Spanish and this is just that: chicken (or pork) marinated in a mixture of soya sauce and vinegar. Other ingredients are added depending on whose recipe you follow.

Our recipe for chicken adobo has been simplified to enable us to replicate it at home. Another recipe we tried was infused adobo with tea at the excellent restaurant: Station 7Tea8S  in Quezon City with our local friend Dennis.

Tea infused adobo famous foods in Philippines

Trying tea infused chicken adobo with our friend Dennis

#2 Balut: that duck embryo street food snack

Now THIS bad boy always raises eyebrows with every foreigner.

Balut is a developing duck embryo boiled and eaten as a snack in the shell and with a splash of vinegar. This is definitely one of the most famous foods to try in the Philippines (and probably the strangest).

balut famous foods in Philippines

Stefan falling in love with the famous balut on Puka Beach on Boracay island

Balut is a popular street food, which originated in the Philippines and is also frequently found in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

The ideal age of the duck embryo is 17 days, when the chick is not old enough to fully show its beak, feathers, claws and the bones are undeveloped.

Sebastien tried a 17 days old balut at Puka Beach on Boracay island and absolutely loved (!) it:

#3 Kare Kare: oxtail stew

Kare kare is an oxtail and ox tripes stew with lots of vegetables, flavoured with ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter, onions and garlic. It is served with shrimp sauce (‘bagoong’), sometimes spiced with chill and sprinkled with calamansi juice (Filipino lime).

Kare Kare is famous throughout the whole country. The alleged origin of its name is from the word ‘curry’ due to the influence of the Indian community in Metro Manila’s Cainta, Rizal area.

This is seen as comfort food for Filipinos and also for Stefan:

kare kare famous foods in Philippines

Stefan about to go face down into this kare kare

#4 Kinilaw: raw fish salad

Kinilaw is similar to the famous Peruvian dish called ceviche. It is a raw fish salad served in an acidic juice, usually kalamansi (Filipino lime) and vinegar, which “cooks” the meat. Kinilaw comes from the word, “kilaw” which means, ‘eaten fresh’.

Other ingredients usually include garlic, ginger, onion, pepper and chilli. We had lots of kinilaw fun at the popular Los Indios Bravos restaurant in Boracay for Sebastien’s birthday:

kinilaw famous foods in Philippines

A kinilaw birthday treat for Sebastien on Boracay island

#5 SINIGANG: sour meat stew

Sinigang is a meat based sour stew or soup with lots of vegetables. The most popular souring agent is tamarind (sampalok). Pork (baboy) is the most common meat used but chicken, beef and fish are also popular.

Alternative souring agents include guava, tomatoes or kalamansi (Filipino lime). We enjoyed this soup so much that our Filipina friend BC Lee was kind enough to give us her recipe for sinigang.

sinigang famous foods in Philippines

#Stefan serving sinigang# – the new hit song in the Filipino pop charts!

#6 Paksiw na lechon: suckling pig prizes

Lechon means ‘suckling pig’ in Spanish and is literally a whole pig roasted over charcoal for many hours for special occasions. This is considered the national dish of the Philippines and the city of Cebu is considered one of the most famous places to eat it.

The leftovers of the lechon are stewed with vinegar and spices and become a delicious dish called paksiw na lechon. Paksiw literally means: to cook and simmer with vinegar.

paksiw na lechon famous foods in Philippines

Sebastien trying paksiw na lechon in Malate, Metro Manila

#7 Tapsilog: a cured beef breakfast treat

Taspsilog is a famous Filipino breakfast, which refers to the contents comprising the meal. In this case, cured beef (tapa), fried rice (sinangag) and a fried egg (itlog).

Variants include ‘adosilog’ (adobo with fried rice and fried egg), litsilog (lechon with fried rice and egg) and ‘Stefansilog’ (a Stefan with fried rice and egg…ok this one is us being silly!)

Stefan with tapsilog breakfast famous foods in Philippines

A Stefansilog breakfast: Stefan served with tapa (beef), sinangag (fried rice) and an itlog (fried egg)

#8 Halo halo: a cheeky desert

This is THE famous Filipino desert. Halo Halo (meaning ‘mixed together’ in Filipino) is served in a tall glass containing ice shavings, evaporated milk and various small chunks of yummy goodies all mixed in together.

Yummy goodies include boiled kidney beans, chickpeas (“garbanzo”), sugar palm fruit (“kaong”), jackfruit, tapioca, sweet potato, sweet beans, coconut gel, ice cream, guava paste, purple yam and many more!

The end result is a tropical, colourful and exciting mess: great for the beach!

halo halo famous foods in Philippines

Two greedy boys about to fight over this halo halo

#9 Buko: the Filipino coconut

Buko is the word for coconut in the Filipino language (called Tagalog). No day in the Philippines was complete for us without the famous buko…first the juice then eating the yummy fleshy fruit inside.

We quickly became the Bucoholics of Boracay…

buco famous foods in Philippines

Stefan and Sebastien becoming the bukoholics of Boracay

The Philippines is the second largest producer of the world’s coconuts (after Indonesia) and the coconut tree called the ‘Tree of Life’.

The Filipinos make good use of the tree, other than the many uses of the fruit itself, you can also use it as wood fire, the leaves for thatching, the coconut husk to make ropes and many more.

Tree of Life Carubao Boracay

Sebastien carefully posing underneath the Tree of Life at Carubao beach near Boracay island

#10 Rum: the Filipino drink of choice

The Philippines is The big rum producer in Asia and is the Filipino’s spirit of choice. It’s made from sugar cane and usually cheaper than bottled water.

Tanduay rum has been around since 1854. It is so famous throughout Asia that it has become the world’s second most popular rum brand in the world after Bacardi.

Tanduay rum and coke famous drinks in Philippines

Sebastien enjoying one of the many delights of the Philippines!

Travel with us as we swam our way through Boracay and Palawan in our Philippines travel video:

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56 Comments

  1. wow! . . . you got it right! (^_^) , . . .makes me hungry now . .ahahhaha

    Reply
    • Thanks Jay xx

      Reply
  2. I don’t know if I could eat the duck egg! :/ But the Ox tail soup looks yummy! Plus those coconuts!! You boys always slay it! 🙂 Happy Travels!!!

    Reply
    • Ha ha ha! Thanks Chelsea xxxx

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      • You did not add the beef caldereta.nilagang baka. chicken tinola. pork sisig .pochero.pangat n isda.inihaw n baboy.ensaladang mangga.tortang giniling.inihaw na bangus.menudo.giniling.leche plan.gulaman.buko pandan.and somany things in philippines thank you guys.

        Reply
        • Thanks for this invaluable list 🙂

          Reply
    • I love to eat balut most and coconut fresh water..cheers
      I’ve been missing that kind of snack at night. .

      Reply
      • 🙂

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  3. Even though he didn’t finish eating the balut, Sebastien is still a good sport for at least trying it. From the looks of it, you got the ‘balut sa pula’ (which means the chick is fully formed with feathers and all).. it does have a gritty (feathery?) taste hehehe… If you get another chance, better ask for ‘balut sa puti’… all you will have is a mushy white stuff along with the yolk… it goes down much better than its gritty counterpart :). It’s great to eat balut late at night and you haven’t had any sleep. Where’s Stefan’s balut eating attempt? 🙂

    Thank you for this list and I learned something new too… good to know you enjoyed the food!

    Reply
    • Agreed! I am ashamed – I bit it then spat it out 🙁

      Reply
      • The balut sa puti is also called ‘penoy.’ No juice in it to suck, just the yummy yolk and the fleshy white thingy.

        I had so much fun reading your blog. I hope you get to travel to other parts of the country in the future.

        Reply
        • Thanks 🙂

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  4. Omg! Ur finally here in the gayest country ever! Yay! Ur missing some more islands here. Lemme know guys happy to give a tour. U guys are in the national paper today. Love love ur blog!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jake! We loved the Philippines so much – incredible country and THE nicest people ever 🙂 Yes we missed too many islands and therefore need to return for you to show us some? We’d love that.

      Reply
      • U got it guys. Just send me an email. Happy travel! Another cool place to go and tolerate to our community is Bali. I went there like 3 yrs ago and it was really nice.

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  5. Your great food and travel blog brings back wonderful memories of my visits to the Philippines (and enjoying Philippine food among friends in Paris). It is interesting what you say about the coconut. Coconut oil was one of the main cooking oils used in the US until the 1980s when the American soybean lobby mounted a successful campaign to discredit coconut oil as a highly saturated fat, bad for health – and thus captured the US (and European) market for soya. The health risks have since been debunked (while soya – and palm oil – is highly questionable) so we can now sip coconut oil without feeling guilty!

    Reply
    • Thanks for that Wilfrid! Whenever shopping for groceries in Asia we’re always stumped as to which one to buy and this now explains why Palm Oil is so cheap compared to Coconut.

      Reply
  6. If you two guys ever make it to America you must come and visit, you two are the coolest dudes i have ever met’

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    • Definitely! And thanks Edsel xx

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  7. We just booked tickets for PI! Heading there in October — can’t wait to eat!

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    • Niiiice! Whereabouts will you go?

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      • We have a short stay in Manila and luckily our local friend is going to take us on a food tour around the city. We’re mainly visiting Palawan (debating between El Nido & Coron, but leaning towards Coron). Then we’ll probably spend a few extra days in Cebu to see whale sharks, canyon Kawasan Falls and dive with the sardines in Moalboal. But many people are suggesting Bohol. A little torn to be honest.

        Reply
        • Nice 🙂

          Reply
    • Go north. Visit Zambales

      Reply
      • Yes 🙂

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  8. You should try Don Papa Rum for a more “artisan” like experience.

    Reply
    • Thanks 🙂

      Reply
  9. It was fun reading your blog. And thank you for giving great comments about our food 🙂 next time when you come back, try the sisig, pares and bulalo 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh wow definitely will do 🙂

      Reply
      • sisig is “pambansang pulutan”

        the national food alongside beer.

        try it!

        Reply
        • Definitely will when we next return 🙂

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  10. don’t use straw while drinking rum ‘Tanduay’. it makes you dizzy…

    Reply
    • lol

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  11. When you guys are coming back? You haven’t tried Filipino Street Food!!!! Love to meet you! *smirks

    Reply
    • We really want to return and you take us to try street food yes?

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      • Of course. Please do leave a message when you guys are coming back! Just like the Festivals here in the Philippines. January, eh? 🙂

        Reply
  12. Tanduay ftw!

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    • Lol

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  13. Haha, I love Balut! Well not love, but I think it’s actually pretty tasty 🙂 Not the hard part though, which my Filipino girlfriend at that time let me eat while while laughing behind my back 😮

    My favorite Filipino food is Ampalaya actually. It’s bitter lemon with scrambled eggs and tomatoes. It’s something you either love or hate I figure. I love it.

    Cheers! Gulp gulp gulp…

    Reply
    • 🙂

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  14. Well, for me Filipino food is a bit too salty, sweet, oily, and sour. Hardly to find any food with veggies there. I always have problem with my digestion while traveling there. Sorry Filipino friends, I just said the truth 🙁

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    • Fair enough- not for everyone 🙂

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  15. Thanks for visiting us. Hope you try to travel some other place in the Philippines.

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    • Awww thanks 🙂

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  16. Warm balut with salt is my best combination. Crack the shell of the pointed side of the balut, slurp the warm soup and then drizzle the meat with a good pinch of rock salt, Then if you can eat in one mouthful.
    Yummm..

    Reply
    • We gonna have to take your word for that he he he 🙂

      Reply
  17. Amazing blog with great info. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Reply
    • Thanks Monika

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  18. Nice!!! I love that food. I love several times in the Philippines and my favorite is the pork sinigang and pancit bihon 😉 oh… And chicken adobo 😉 hehe

    Reply
    • AGREED! 🙂

      Reply
  19. Loved your post! So helpful! I will definitely be driven by your advice in my food choices while visiting Philippines 🙂 and I just saw your video from PH and omg… I just can’t wait to go there! 😀

    all the best!

    Reply
    • Thank you 🙂

      Reply
      • hi guys i love this website so funny

        Reply
        • Thanks Alice

          Reply
      • YOUR WELCOME!

        Reply
  20. hi again!

    Reply

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