Every country has their own unique local cuisine, and the Philippines is no exception. When it comes to Manila, this is a city that frequently attracts serious foodies, as there are some truly incredible dishes to try.
Kinilaw is Manila’s version of ceviche, and can also be compared to a bowl of Hawaiian poke, as it consists of cuts of fresh fish, mixed with onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, tomatoes, as well as some coconut vinegar and citrus juice. The cuts of fish are varied, which adds to the dish’s flavor and texture, and you can definitely taste just how fresh the seafood is here. While many restaurants serve up kinilaw, one of the best places in the city to taste it is at the local wet market in Pasay City, as here you are able to choose your own fresh seafood, and then take this to the nearby restaurants and ask them to turn it into a unique kinilaw for you.
Turon is a popular street food snack that you are likely to find being fried up on many street corners around the city. Made from sliced bananas, as well as a slice of local Jackfruit, the fruits are rolled in a spring roll wrapper before being glazed with sugar and then deep fried to perfection. Since the Jackfruit is only available in season, locals have adapted this dish so that it can be enjoyed throughout the year, replacing the Jackfruit with mango, coconut, cheese, and even sweet potato.
When it comes to Filipino stews, the adobo has long since been a favorite amongst locals, but kare-kare is a dish that is picking up steam, and now finds itself in the spotlight. This dish consists of pieces of oxtail mixed with daikon, eggplant and Chinese cabbage, before being stewed in a thick peanut sauce. This dish is usually served with a mound of rice, as well as some shrimp paste for some extra flavor. To try the city’s most authentic kare-kare, head to the Milky Way Café, where you will also find several other local delights that are worth sampling.
Fishballs are another popular street food snack and are one of the most common that you will find, usually because this tends to be the most affordable of all street foods in the city. This is a dish similar to meatballs, but made from fish instead, which are deep fried before being placed onto bamboo skewers, and then dipped into either a sweet, spicy or vinegar sauce.
There is no denying how uncomfortable the heat of Manila can sometimes be, so, if you find yourself being beaten down by the sun, then a bowl of halo-halo is exactly what you need. This shaved ice desert consists of red beans, coconut gel, purple yam, candied fruits, flan, and sometimes even ice cream, although every restaurant will have their own version, adding in different fruits to mix up the flavors and texture. If this seems a bit too much for you, head to Razon’s of Guagua, where you will find a minimalist version of halo-halo, with just four ingredients, each of which has been bathed in shaved ice.
Filipino cuisine is deliciously unique, and you should try to sample as much of this as possible when you are visiting the country. In Manila, there are countless restaurants and street food stalls to visit, so be sure to order each of these dishes at least once.