In Partnership with the Department of Tourism – Philippines
There are plenty of cuisines out there that dominate the restaurant and takeaway scene, but one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is Filipino food.
Believe me when I say, the delightful dishes on offer have enough flavour to match the 7,641 islands it comes from.
Though it’s possible to get a taste of foreign cuisines from restaurants and takeaways at home, there’s nothing like trying them in their country of origin.
You might think it’s a good idea to experiment with more than 15 ingredients to create halo-halo yourself – but combining sweet red beans, sweet white beans, coconut gel, macapuno, jackfruit and ube ice cream to create the signature Filipino summer dessert might be a bit of a stretch without some expert help.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about Filipino adobo, a chicken dish that varies greatly from the much more widely well-known Spanish and Latin American version. Removing chili, paprika, oregano and tomatoes, you may think you’re taking away all the flavour but replace those things with Southeast Asian ingredients like soy sauce, black peppercorns and bay leaves, this dish is still certainly packed full of flavour.
Award-winning chefs JP Anglo and Jordan Andino discuss the country’s rich, diverse cuisine and dining culture in Eats. More Fun In the Philippines campaign video, where they were joined by top YouTuber and comedian Mikey Bustos.
Filipino-American chef Jordan described the Filipino dining experience as offering more soul than most countries. He explained when you eat the food you taste ‘love, family and tradition’, adding ‘not a lot of cultures are able to do that’.
Chef JP spoke more specifically about the sumptuous flavours of the cuisine, recommending the pork dish lechon as well as grilled chicken known as inasal, saying:
Our lechon is very strong. We’re one of the countries that do the roasting technique really well. Our grilled chicken, the inasal, is also very strong and it can go against the other grilled chickens in the world.
I look up to the street vendors like the guy who’s been making batchoy (noodle soup) for two decades in a market in Iloilo. I think we should celebrate them more and give them a venue.
These guys are the real deal and as chefs we get our inspiration from them.
But Filipino cuisine is so much more than just diverse flavours; it’s fun to eat. Dining in the Philippines is an event where you can experiment and try new things, like eating with your bare hands – a way for people to truly savour the food they’re eating.
For Filipinos, eating is an experience to be enjoyed and shared with everyone, with comforting meals shared while bonding with friends, at a big gathering or at simple get-togethers.
Having experienced Filipino food for himself, YouTuber Mikey acknowledged appreciating the dishes involves understanding ‘Filipino food is designed for Filipino life’.
The comedian added:
If you really want to learn about a country, you have to eat and experience that whole thing.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat pointed out more and more people are travelling not just to see the sights, but to discover new cuisines.
We believe that one of the best ways to explore the Philippines and experience the country’s culture is through our plentiful and diverse food offerings.
Food, especially to us Filipinos, is a universal language. We always say kain na (let’s eat) as our way to say “hello” and “welcome”. I think that it is the best testament to our uniquely Filipino hospitality. Our food and our love for it, make us some of the most endearing hosts in the world.
Though Filipino food promises to offer an explosion of flavour, arguably one of the best parts about eating in The Philippines is the fact you can enjoy five meals a day thanks to the inclusion of merienda; dishes smaller than a traditional meal but still just as delicious.
Next time you’re sifting through where and what to eat, why not give the unique flavours of the Philippines a try? You won’t regret it.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.