Philippine cuisine for tourists

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Features of Filipino cuisine

Filipino cuisine at first glance may seem similar to traditional Asian with an abundance of rice and spicy spices, but it so happened that it was strongly influenced by European traditions (affects the colonial past), and not for the better. The result is not very bright and not very diverse cuisine, which, objectively speaking, is very different and inferior to Thai, Malay, Indonesian and other Southeast Asian cuisines.

The basis of Philippine cuisine is really rice and dishes from it, but the quality of cooking is much inferior to other Asian countries: in most cases it is tasteless and sticky. Most often, dishes are prepared and served according to the principle – as long as you can eat. A feature of the local cuisine is a large amount of meat, mostly very fatty pork and chicken, but vegetables and other healthy foods are very small. In general, vegetarians in the Philippines will find it difficult to choose a diet: there are very few vegetarian restaurants, and in ordinary cafes, even seemingly completely vegetarian salads can still add animal products.

You should also be prepared that the food can be very salty, and almost always sweet. Everything is sweetened, even grilled meat. Filipinos also use a lot of apple cider vinegar and soy sauce when cooking, but spices and other sauces are added little. And here you will not put on the table with the dish a dozen jars of sauces and seasonings, as in Thailand, to bring it to your taste. As a maximum, after a request in a cafe you will be given sugar, salt, soy sauce and vinegar. Pepper is used little, and in general, Filipino food is not at all spicy by Asian standards. What's bad, even in restaurants of foreign cuisines, there is a trace of the Filipino attitude to food – it can be salty, sweet, and cooked just like that.

Filipino street dining

Nevertheless, if you are a lover of meat and Exotics, you can find your favorite dishes here. Here are the most popular ones that are worth a try:

  • Adobo is a whole group of meat dishes, or rather a way of cooking them in soy sauce and vinegar with seasonings. In fact, this is the Philippine National way of cooking. Adobo can be made from chicken, pork, and exotic meats.
  • Lechon - a whole pig on a spit with seasonings, and by tradition can be sweet. As a rule, this is the main festive dish, but you do not have to wait for the holiday to try it. Lechon is prepared in tourist areas in popular restaurants all year round, is not served whole, and you will cut a piece to choose from.
  • Kare-Kare - cooked oxtail. This is a rather expensive dish, not found everywhere.
  • Ginataang Manok - chicken meat in coconut sauce.
  • Mitsado (Mitsado, also Mechado) – stewed beef in soy sauce with lime juice.
  • Adidas (Adidas or Grilled chicken feet) - grilled chicken feet. The dish is quite an amateur, because it is the paws, not the chicken legs, but it's worth a try.
  • Halo-Halo (Halo-Halo) - dessert ice cream made from fruits, vegetables,cereals, jelly, and ice.
  • Calamay - coconut milk dessert and glutinous rice.
  • Balut (Balut) – just the "wildest" exotic. These are chicken or duck eggs, aged 14-21 days before the chick embryo matures in it.

Where to eat and food prices

As in all Asian countries, in the Philippines, inexpensive food is very common in local establishments, as well as tourist cafes and restaurants in resorts or hotels. There is another category – relatively inexpensive chain fast food restaurants, which are much cleaner and more pleasant than cheap local eateries, and at the same time much cheaper than tourist-oriented establishments.

Locals and most budget travelers eat in inexpensive private cafes for locals. Such cafes do not differ in an intricate situation, and sometimes they look very unsanitary, but in general it is safe to eat in them, since the dishes are prepared immediately before serving. True, you should not expect from them a wide variety of menus (it is usually absent at all) and tastes: as a rule, simple dishes of meat or chicken with rice are served. Eating in such an institution will cost from 100 pesos with a drink (1.73, see Philippine currency and Exchange Rate), and a breakfast of scrambled eggs and instant coffee will cost at all from 60 pesos (1.04 USD).

Serving at an inexpensive cafe for locals

One of the most popular varieties of local inexpensive catering are barbecues or BBQs. These can be both small stationary cafes and temporary points with tables right on the sidewalk or roadside, for example. They serve skewers of chicken, pork and their offal on bamboo sticks, which you also cook over coals, and served with or without rice at your request. Depending on the location and size of the skewers, the cost of a stick is from 10 to 25 pesos, a serving of rice is 10 pesos. To eat, it is enough to take 5-8 sticks and a portion of rice.

Barbecue in the Philippines

A little more expensive, but much cleaner can be eaten in local or international chain restaurants McDonald's, Burger King, KFC. But we recommend that you definitely try the restaurants of the local chain JolliBee. The atmosphere and service in JolliBee are about the same as in international restaurants, but the menu has a local flavor: its basis is not burgers, but chicken in a special deep-fried breading, and of course rice. JolliBee are open around the clock seven days a week, and are very popular with locals and tourists, so you may have to stand in line at the checkout. A meal at JolliBee will cost from 200 pesos with a drink (3.46 USD), breakfast from 100 pesos (1.73 USD), and in order not to spend a lot, it is better to take ready-made kits without additions (additions), so it will be cheaper. Another affordable option to have a quick and inexpensive snack in a clean environment is food courts in large shopping centers, or food in chain stores.

Dinner at JolliBee

Eating in restaurants at hotels or in tourist cafes is the most expensive: you have to pay two to three times more than in local establishments, but the quality and variety of dishes are higher. Hotels often offer breakfast included in the price. These are simple dishes in the form of scrambled eggs, pancakes or toast to choose from, as well as coffee, tea or juice. This is very convenient, because you do not have to spend time in the morning looking for where to eat, so we recommend that when choosing and booking accommodation, give preference to such options. Also, some hotels and hostels offer breakfast, not included in the room rate, but for an additional fee of 120 pesos.

Serving at a tourist cafe in the Philippines

Fruits in the Philippines

The Philippines has a wide variety of exotic fruits, but their availability is very dependent on the season. In the off-season, such Exotics as lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, pitahaya, durian, jackfruit and others are almost impossible to find, only bananas, coconuts, mangoes and citrus fruits are on sale. The ripening season differs for different exotic fruits, but in general for most of them runs from May to October.

Prices are also highly dependent on the season, and, for example, in the winter months, some exotic fruits are even more expensive than in the Russian Federation. For example, in the winter season 2019-2020 in the supermarket bananas cost 60 pesos per kilogram, mango-120 pesos, oranges-140 pesos, lemons-280, pomelo-140, apples-180. And, surprisingly, many fruits here are imported from China and Thailand.

Fruit in the market

Drinks and alcohol

Drinking tap water in the Philippines is highly discouraged, and bottled water in China is very expensive. For example, the standard price for a one and a half liter bottle is 40 pesos (0.69 USD), only sometimes in large chain supermarkets can be found cheaper. In small shops in tourist areas, you will be charged 40 pesos or more for 1 liter. Fortunately, hotels and hostels usually have coolers with drinking water, from where you can drink water for free, or Fill Your half-liter bottle to 10 pesos or free. Also on the streets there are vending machines with water, where for a coin of one peso you can get half a liter of water.

In the shops and cafes of the Philippines, popular world carbonated drinks Coca-Cola, Sprite, 7Up, etc.are offered, but there is not a wide variety of soft-drinks, as in Thailand or Vietnam, for example. In addition, it is objective to say that the prices for soft-drinks are quite high. For example, a large bottle of non-original RC Cola 1.5 liters costs from 70 pesos, and the price of the original reaches almost 100. But surprisingly, in cafes, carbonated drinks are even cheaper than in supermarkets, can be served in glass reusable bottles from 17 pesos for 0.25 liters.

Locally produced alcoholic beverages are very cheap in the Philippines. Just incredibly cheap! Rum, whiskey, gin, vodka are produced here. A bottle of 0.25 L. the most popular, and as it is believed, high-quality rum Tanduay Dark will cost from 46 pesos (0.79 USD), and a bottle of gin Gilbeys 0.5 L. costs from 140 pesos. The local alcohol is of acceptable quality, unless, of course, you overdo it with its quantity. Foreign alcohol is also freely available for sale, its prices are about the same as in the Russian Federation.

Philippine rum Tanduay

There is beer in the Philippines, but the variety is not great, just a few varieties. The most popular local varieties-Red Horse and San Miguel Pilsner-are found in all supermarkets and cafes. In fact, San Miguel is a monopoly on the production of beer in the Philippines, and in addition to these two types of beer there are practically no, although there are foreign brands and draft beer. A bottle of local beer 0.5 liters costs from 40 pesos in large supermarkets, 80-100 in cafes. There are also glass bottles of 1 liter, cost from 90 pesos in stores, and from 120 in cafes. There is also draft beer in restaurants and cafes, but not often. A mug of draft beer will cost from 70 pesos.

Philippine Red Horse beer

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