Metro Manila · Filipino Meals & Dishes
The local Filipino food is not what you would expect in (Southeast) Asia. It is less filled with vegetables and more focused on meat - on the issue of rice your estimation would be right: it is eaten a lot. The food is quite heavy, not that spicy, most of the time grilled or fried, and often seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce and other interesting flavors.
There is a Philippine saying that food without rice does not qualify as a meal. This saying holds true and you will see more food shops offering 'unlimited rice' than shops offering meals without rice. There is regular white rice and there is garlic rice. Sticky rice – rice mixed with coconut milk – is used to prepare a wide array of sweet cakes and desserts.
Traditional Philippine breakfast comes in names like 'Tapsilog' or 'Longsilog' and so on. The first syllable refers to the kind of meat that is accompanied by rice and egg ('silog'). A Hotsilog for example are small Hotdog sausages with rice and eggs. Pork, beef and fish are added to the rice and eggs in different variations.
Salad, Vegetables, and Vegetarian Food
Finding a good salad in the Megacity is not that easy. If you do not go to an international restaurant you will have a hard time. And if you find one, let us know! Vegetables are easier to get but they are mostly reduced to a tomato and some onions on the side. When you order a dish which reads 'beef stripes' do not expect any rice nor vegetables on your plate. Pure vegetarian dishes are equally seldom. But no worries, dear Vegetarian readers, Megacitizens.com found some restaurants with great selections of vegetarian and even vegan dishes in Metro Manila - just click here.
The Philippine cuisine has some soups that are definitely worth a try. Sinigang is a sour soup either with fish, chicken, pork or beef in it. It is a light and clear soup. Another soup which is more difficult to find in restaurants and resembles a good old chicken soup is called 'Tenola'. Both soups are very delicious – that is if you can stand eating soup in a hot tropical country.
Lunch and Dinner
As mentioned before, lunch and dinner mainly consists of rice and meat. It doesn't really matter if pork, beef, chicken or fish, as long as it has this and rice, it is a good meal. You will sometimes find an alibi vegetable on the side. However, there is some tasty local vegetable available (such as Kangkong) but you have to look for it. The national dish is probably Adobo, pork and/or chicken stewed in soy sauce and vinegar. You will also encounter intestines from different animals as well as something called 'Sisig'. Depending on the meat (e.g. Beef Sisig), this dish features small sliced parts of ears, nose, cheeks etc, mixed with chili and onions and served on a hot plate. As most dishes, it goes well with soy sauce and vinegar. Apart from rice, Pancit is a popular side dish. These Philippine-style noodles come in great variation (Pancit Canton, Pancit Bihon,...) and are a typical birthday meal, as they represent long life.
Merienda and Desserts
Merienda means small snacks either between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner. It often refers to local pastries, some of them of Spanish origin, such as cheese bread. There are not a large amount of Philippine deserts but all of them are very tasty. Apart from the mentioned Sticky Rice with Coconut (and Mango slices) there is Halohalo (meaning 'mix-mix'), a wild mixture of ice, fruits, rice balls, jelly, and sugary thingies. Featured in several desserts and meriendas is 'ube'. Ube is a pink vegetable, very similar to the beet root. Spanish-Filipino Leche Flan is another highly popular dessert.
Follow the links for recipes of Philippine all-time favorites. As in every Megacity, you also have a great choice of international restaurants, from French cuisine and Spanish tapa bars to Asian fusion and American burger places. Check Food & Dining and the HotSpots for your options in Metro Manila.