Food & drinks

Filipino cuisine may not be as renowned as some of his neighbors, however there is a great variety of food and flavors inspired by Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American influences. Rice is the staple food and eaten in most meals of the day as well as used in desserts and snacks. It's accompanied by a sweet or salty and to a lesser extent spicy dish. Aside from rice, noodles and bread are also a common staple. Filipinos usually eat three meals a day and between the meals take a merienda especially in the afternoon. This habit is taken from the Spanish and can be almost anything, most popular being kakanin (sweet rice cakes), halo-halo (literally translated as mix-mix because of the variety of ingredients mixed), and Banana Q (sweetened bananas on a stick). Food is usually eaten with fork and spoon, knives are hardly used, but of course you can ask for one. Some specialty restaurants serve food the classic way on a banana leaf and you have to eat with your hands.

tapsilogBreakfast (Almusal)

Filipino breakfast usually consists of rice, a fried or scrambled egg and a choice of meat/ fish like: fried milkfish (bangus),garlic sausage (longganisa), marinated beef(beef tapa) or sweet cured pork (pork tocino).  Alternatively, the popularly known bread pan de sal is usually eaten for breakfast and can be bought from bakeries within the neighborhood. Western-style breakfasts such as pancakes and French toast are served in touristic areas.

Lunch(Tanghalian) / Dinner(Gabihan)

There is not really a difference between lunch and dinner plates. Lunch typically is eaten around noon and dinner starts around seven in the evening. The most popular dishes are listed below. 

Meat dishes

  • Adobo: Popular dish made of meat or seafood marinated in a sauce of vinegar and garlic, browned in oil, and simmered in the marinade
  • Crispy pata: Pork dish that uses a whole pig’s leg. The leg (pata) is made tender by simmering in water along with other spices. Then its marinated and deep-fried until the texture becomes very crunchy.
  • Lechon: Whole pig marinated in soy sauce and stuffed with lemon grass. Roasted traditionally over a live charcoal fired. Served with a vinegar dipping sauce with scallions and pepper. This is usually served on special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, fiestas etc.
  • Tapa: The name Tapa is derived from the Spanish word "tapas". It is a dish of salted-cured beef which is fried or grilled. When its paired with fried rice and egg it is called Tapsilog.
    This term is a combination of the words tapa, sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). The suffix silog is also used the name other dishes such as Adosilog (with adobo) and chicksilog (with chicken).

Fish and seafood dishestilapia fish

  • Bangus: Milkfish is a rather bony fish, which is prepared in different ways. 
  • Calamares: Fried squid.
  • Kinilaw: Fish / squid or other sea animal cooked in vinegar or other souring agent. The most commonly used marinade consists of vinegar, salt, onion and chili. Variations on this theme are to use another souring agent such as green mango or to include coconut milk, which absorbs some of the sourness. In Luzon this dish is called Kilawin
  • Lapu Lapu: A  delicious seabass named after the first Filipino to resist the Spanish occupation. 
  • Tahong: Big green mussels, prepared in various ways. Grilled over live coals, they are a popular snack.
  • Talaba: Raw oysters cooked in vinegar with garlic. 
  • Tanguingue:The Spanish mackerel is popular due to its low price, most commonly prepared grilled.

Specialties

  • Bibingka: Rice cake made with coconut milk, sugar and egg and can be bought almost everywhere. Puto Bumbong, a purple rice cake steamed in bamboo tubes, is a popular rice cake that can only be bought during the Christmas season.
  • Halo Halo: A dessert consisting of shaved ice, mixed fruit and condensed milk. 
  • Inihaw: Term used for grilled marinated fish, poultry or meat dishes.
  • Pulutan: Finger food or snack such as kropeck (fish crackers) or chicharon(fried pork rinds)
  • Bagoong: A condiment made of fermented fish of shrimps which others might find smelly.
  • Balút: Fertilized chicken or duck egg with an almost completely developed embryo inside. Eaten boiled with a salt and vinegar dipping sauce. 

street foodSnacks (Merienda)

  • Adidas: Deep-fried chicken feet on a stick. The name is derived from the well known sports brand, because its previous logo looked like a chicken feet.
  • Arroz caldo: In Spanish it literally means: broth rice, but its actually derived from a Chinese congee and flavored with saffron, pepper, ginger and scallions.
  • Isaw: Chicken or pig intestines grilled on a stick.
  • Siopao: Chinese steamed buns, filled with a variety of ingredients.
  • Sumsumon: Pig's ear
  • Tokneneng: boiled chicken eggs that are dipped in a reddish batter and deep-fried until the batter becomes crispy

Drinks (Inumin)

Non-alcoholic

Tap water is considered not safe, so stick to bottled water, which can be bought cheap. Bottled and canned softdrinks are also available everywhere at a cheap price. Chilled fruit juices are popular in the Philippines and stalls selling them are widespread.  Most popular are those based on banana, pineapple and mango. The juices usually contain ice, (instant) milk and lots of sugar. Despite the availability of fresh fruits, the cheaper restaurants often make them from powder. For something refreshing try a juice made from the native calamansi which is the local lime.

Coffee is big in the Philippines and international chains such as Starbucks and Coffeebean can be found in major cities and touristic destinations.One of the world's most expensive coffee beans,known as Kape Musang Kopi Luwak are produced in the Philippines. It comes from the droppings of a nocturnal, cat-like animal called the civet. The beans are fermented in the stomach of the animal and that process gives the coffee a unique taste and aroma. The average cost for a pound of civet beans is around USD 400.

Unlike other Asians, Filipinos don't drink much tea and usually the only kind available is Lipton. Chocolate (Tsokolate) drinks are popular, traditionally they are made from dry cocoa tablets (tableas) mixed with hot water and ground peanuts.  

sanmiglightAlcoholic

Beer is the most widely available and consumed alcoholic drink, its relatively cheap and an average Filipino drinks more then 20 liter per year. Local beer is produced by two breweries: San Miguel, the deservedly most popular beer in the country and Asia Brewery. San Miquel produces a wide range of beers from the light in calorie San Miguel Light to the strong alcoholic Red Horse. Asia Brewery offers 8 beers, the most popular being Beer na Beer. Aside from beer, its sister company Tanduay Distillers produces a wide variety of rums. Imported wines are available in upmarket restaurants and supermarkets in the major cities and touristic areas, but rarely drunk by the locals. Pungent rice wine, called tapuy is produced locally and the alcohol content is about 14 percent.

Fruits and Vegetables

A wide selection of vegetables, such as sweet potatoes (kamote), squash (kalabasa) and eggplant (talong)  are grown in the Philippines. In the mountainous areas, more temperate climate vegetables are cultivated where tomatoes, lettuce and carrots can be found. Unfortunately, Filipinos tend to use their vegetables sparsely in dishes so head out to the markets for some delicious tropical fruits and get some essential vitamins. The most well known fruit is  the mango which is available all  year round. Other fruits grown are papaya, jack fruit, pineapples and the intense smelly durian.

Chico and calamansi

Calamansi or in English Calamondin is widely used as a condiment in Filipino drinks and dishes. The fruit is part of the Citrus family and is harvested before fully ripe.  The small round shaped and  green  fruits are a cheap thirst quencher when used in fresh calamansi juice.