While the Philippines is known for its picture-perfect beaches, ancient rice terraces, and smiling people, its food has flown under the radar. Filipinos love to eat, especially when they’re sharing their meal with a group, like tourists.
With 7,641 islands in the archipelago, the Philippines is a destination with a colorful and extensive selection of delicacies. From raw seafood to sour soups to rich pork dishes, you definitely won’t run out of new things to try. And while we can’t promise you’ll love every single dish, it’s sure to be a unique and interesting experience nevertheless!
Adobo is probably the most famous dish in the Philippines, a rich stew of pork, chicken, or a combination of both cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorn, bay leaf, and garlic.
Despite being the country’s unofficial national dish, there are many different versions of adobo and they don’t just vary in the meat. Some adobo dishes are dry and rich in garlic, while others have a stronger taste of vinegar with more soup to slather on rice. There are even families who prefer theirs spicy.
Another well-known dish in the Philippines is lechon, a fully roasted suckling pig that the late Anthony Bourdain famously called “the best pig, ever.” The best, most succulent lechon in the country is arguably found in Cebu, where there are plenty of specialty lechon restaurants offering the dish on practically every corner.
Embark on food tour in Cebu with KKday to discover more of the province’s cuisine.
A Filipino household staple, sinigang is a stew that uses tamarind, kamias, guava, or tomatoes to make the soup deliciously sour. It is usually made with pork, salmon, bangus (milkfish), or shrimp along with vegetables like kangkong, taro, and string beans.
The favorite bar chow of Filipinos is sisig, a sizzling plate of chopped up pig’s face and ears with some even adding a bit of chopped chicken liver on the dish. It’s generously seasoned, then served sprinkled with crunchy pork rinds and topped with a raw egg.
Since this flavorful dish goes perfectly with a bottle of ice cold beer, it’s available in most local bars and Filipino restaurants. Order a plate of sisig on your next night out of drinks and karaoke.
Many people who first encounter or hear about dinuguan balk at eating it, because it roughly translates to “blood stew.” Filipinos cook it by simmering pork and pork offal into a creamy mix of pig’s blood and various seasonings. Dinuguan is tastier than one would imagine, especially eaten with rice or puto (rice cake).
Pancit translates to noodles, which Filipinos prepare in many different ways to eat as a snack or side dish. Pancit guisado and pancit palabok are two of the most popular noodle dishes in the country, both often served during parties.
Kinilaw, also known as kilawin, is the Philippines’ version of ceviche or raw seafood dish. The raw fish is soaked in vinegar, which is mixed with kalamansi, ginger, onion, and other spices for a more flavorful dish.
In many islands or resorts, the chef uses the fisherman’s catch of the day, but kinilaw is usually made out of tuna or tanigue (Spanish mackerel).
Another savory dish Filipinos love is kare-kare, which is a rich stew typically made with oxtail and peanut sauce. Most cooks add in chunks of beef to the stew for those who prefer not to eat oxtail. Try kare-kare with a small dab of bagoong (shrimp paste) for the best experience.
Probably the most famous (or infamous) dish on this list, balut is a duck embryo boiled and eaten as street food in the Philippines. Most slurp the soup (or embryonic fluid), while the more adventurous eat the entire chick, bones included!
Even among Filipinos, the snack is as polarizing as they come, but if you’re up for the challenge, you might find you actually like it. At the very least, balut makes for a good story to tell.
Let’s end it on a sweet note: halo-halo. This is the most beloved dessert in the Philippines and it translates quite simply to “mixed together.”
As the name suggests, halo-halo is a sweet and colorful mixture of ingredients: shaved ice, evaporated milk, macapuno, beans, sago, and many more. The best halo-halos are topped with a dollop of ube (purple yam) ice cream and leche flan.
Explore the Philippines’ unique street food with a guided food tour in Manila.