In any real Filipino joint you won’t find a knife, just a fork, a spoon, and some truly unique food. What most probably don’t know is that the Philippines was once a Spanish colony, and the influences can be seen in the culture and cuisine. Food in the island nation is a mash-up of Asian and Spanish (and a few others like Chinese, Malay, and American), all combining for dishes that are one of a kind.
No chopsticks, no knife, no problem. For the most part, all you need to enjoy Filipino food is a spoon because the meats are usually slow-cooked and tender enough to manage with a spoon’s edge. The Philippines was the first country I encountered a strict fork and spoon combo. After a day or so of eating, I realized it’s a rather efficient means of eating, and the Philippines fills your spoon with all sorts of new and different flavors.
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This Pinoy classic comes from the kitchen on a hot plate still sizzling and giving your noses hints of garlic, chilies, and it’s vinegar base. Minced pork, onions, and topped with an egg, served and eaten with rice, this dish is full of flavor. Mix the hot plate with the rice, use your fork to fill your spoon and dig in!
My favorite Sisig: Lolo’s cooking station – Coron Town, Busuanga island
Related Article: Coron Palawan Guide
This is more of a group of foods than anything, the dishes ending with …silog, just means it will be served with a fried egg and a serving of rice. The word before the silog specifies your choice of meat. Common choices are Longsilog (sausage), Hamsilog (Ham), Hotsilog (Hotdog), the list goes on! My personal favorite is a nice Spanish-Filipino mash-up Tocino, or Tocilog. OK, the name might not sound the most appealing, but trust me it’s good!
Meat over fire is a magical international recipe for goodness, and Filipinos do some nice chicken. There is no shortage of spits spinning full of tasty birds with a sweet and savory BBQ sauce. This is a good cost-effective option with a quarter chicken with rice coming in between 50-75P ($1-$1.75).
This bright pink delight was my favorite thing I put in my mouth while in the Philippines. The beef counterpart isn’t too far behind either, it’s seasoned nicely and cooked until tender.
My favorite: Tocino: Corto Del Mar Hotel – Coron Town, Busuanga Island
If Tocino isn’t my favorite, it’s gotta be the chorizo! Again mixing flavors with the Spanish, this sweet and spicy sausage is served typically for breakfast alongside an egg, with rice or bread.
My favorite Chorizo: Marikit Pensionne – El Nido, Palawan Island
Pair any of your main dishes with the moist and flavorful Filipino garlic rice. The grains of rice picks up a yellow color (some more than others) from cooking with the garlic, butter and salt are added before making it to your plate.
Another dish brought by the Spaniards and transformed in the kitchens of the Philippines is Paella. In the Philippines, the dish is similar to the version most are familiar with, where rice is mixed with local seafood and vegetables, then cooked to moist and flavorful perfection.
My favorite Paella: The Alternative Restaurant – El Nido, Palawan Island
Related Article: El Nido Palawan Guide
The Philippines sometimes gets a bad wrap for its food, but if you are willing to give it a go, there is bound to be a few dishes that hit the spot (Besides vegetarians, I don’t know who couldn’t like the Tocino or Chorizo!). This is only a small sampling of my favorites I tried in my time on the islands of Boracay, Coron, El Nido, and the capital of Manila. The food complements the raw beauty of the islands and is served to you by some of the warmest people I have encountered while traveling.
I love to explore with my fork or in this case my spoon and the Philippines have lots of adventurous eating options as well, stay tuned for that post coming soon. In case you are wondering, yes, I did try an egg. You can’t go to Philippines without trying the infamous Balut egg! I not only had 1, but I had…..watch the video to see.
Related Video: Eating A Balut Egg In The Philippines
What Filipino Favorites did I miss? What should I try on my next trip to the Philippines?