Food in the Philippines: A Lingering Taste of Salty Disappointment

“Food in the Philippines isn’t very good,” they were words from a fellow traveller and they came as a crushing blow. How could that be? I was in Asia – one of the cornerstones of the spice trade, a region that had sent its cuisine global with pandemic success.  The Philippines had to have good food, it was its geographical birthright.

 
 

I looked down into my plastic bowl of pale brown watery sauce and floating pig fat (no meat, just fat). The restaurant had been recommended to me, the dish I’d ordered all on my own.  Surely, it was a one-time bad order?

Food in the Philippines

Apparently not.

For the following three weeks with increasing degrees of frustration, desperation and eventually downright food depression, I, too, reached the sad conclusion that the food in the Philippines simply isn’t good. I say these words carefully. The food is plentiful and provides essential nutrition (overly fatty meat aside), but for my inner foodie, sustenance was simply not enough.

 
 

Like many developing countries there is a point where income, at least for some, affords more dining choices and the fish, meat, vegetables and rice staples are passed over in preference for, most commonly, junk food. The result – an unsatisfying culinary mid-way – traditional recipes are no longer at their best, slowly being forgotten on a generation by generation basis, yet the new wave of fast food is a poor tasting substitute, even if it is an ironic social indicator of increased wealth.

Amongst the upcoming Filipino masses, Jollibee with its McDonald style burger meals and platters of pasta that would make the Italians want to throw in the kitchen towel, was sadly one of the most popular if not the crème de la crème of the Philippine’s cooking world. I ate there twice – once for breakfast, another for dinner and both occasions left me with an inner food sadness. I also tried the ubiquitous Kenny Roger’s Roasters (I’m serious – this does exist and no, it’s  not the world’s greatest chicken, as the slogan suggests), slipping out mid-meal to pick up an avocado from the market to add more pizzaz to my meal.

 
 
Food in the Philippines
Beef Tapa Breakfast Menu at Jollibee – fast food eggs are always dire.

Photo by: dbgg1979.

The street food (my usual go-to option in Asia) managed to tick the happy food box as I savoured barbecued everything from innards to unidentifiable pieces of meat, but a girl can’t live on BBQ alone.

Food in the PhilippinesFood in the Philippines

 

The halo halo dessert meaning ‘mix mix’ and comprising pasta, sweet potato, cream and jelly (strange, but works) and luminous green jelly drinks with buko (young coconut) were also fun (they matched the colour of one of my t-shirts, which made me happy), but equally, sugar cannot form my entire sustenance.

 
 

Food in the Philippines

Food in the PhilippinesFood in the Philippines

On Palawan, I tucked into some delicious tuna, tried the deep-fried bananas despite my heart protesting to the contrary and sampled the strangest coffee combination that included mushrooms and Korean Ginseng (surprisingly nice) but none of these items were distinctively Filipino.
birthright.

 
 

Food in the PhilippinesFood in the Philippines

 

 
 

Food in the Philippines

By far the best local meal I ate was the lunch served up in El Nido cooked on firewood on a beach during my time on a boat tour

Food in the Philippines

But beyond those few examples, I was stumped.

 
 

Yes, beef tapsilog was served at breakfast. The Jollibee version is shown above. I sampled others but consistently found the beef over salty and the garlic rice just too much for me first thing in the morning – even if it was offset with an egg.

I will give credit to Ube jam, which is definitely worth a try and probably the best breakfast item I tried the entire time (perhaps I just like the vividly coloured foods in the Philippines?).

Otherwise, kare kare (pork in peanut sauce) and other rice and meat based dishes were consumed with decreasing excitement.

Food in the Philippines

 
 

As time passed and my interest in Filipino food waned, I lost my guilt at eating more internationally – Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and (gasp, I’m about to say it) vegetarian food all stepping confidently into the breach, but it was nothing new, nothing I could take with me as a distinct culinary memory of the country.

Food in the Philippines
Yes, they are vegan sausages and yes they were vile, but the risotto was edible.

But I refused to give in. I researched, I tasted and then I found the answer I’d been looking for, the promise of a food utopia nestled in the heart of the Philippines…the Manila Sunday Brunch.

 
 

PS: I plan to return to the Philippines and I suspect that my disappointment with the country’s food stems from my extended time in Japan where I existed in food heaven. Speaking to other travelers who had spent time in South Korea and Taiwan, the Philippines’ food seemed, to them, a trade up. If you have any suggestions for where and what to eat for next time I visit, please do share otherwise I’ll be taking a jar of (unsweetened) peanut butter and saving my main meal for the weekly Sunday brunch.

 
Want more? Read my post about Visiting the Batad Rice Terraces
I was determined to take a trip to the north of Luzon and the Cordillera mountains to visit the Batad rice terraces. The terraces are dubbed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and although I have come across many self-proclaimed ‘eighth wonders’ on my travels, I’d say that the stunning emerald-green Batad rice terraces could well take the title.
 
If you find yourself in the Philippines, this journey is definitely worth the effort (and it can feel like an effort with a minimum 18-hour round trip on broken roads from Manila). Here’s my guide to visiting the Batad rice terraces.

Related Food Posts

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A life-changing experience – Eating Kobe beef in Japan

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The Ginstitute – Making your own gin in London

Traditional Irish Food – How to eat like an Irishman

How to order coffee in Italy

Best restaurants in Venice – Tried & Tested

What to eat in Jamaica – Traditional Jamaican food

Where is the best deep pan pizza in Chicago?

How to drink Tequila like a Mexican

How to go wine tasting in Ensenada, Mexico

 

For more travel planning tips and stories about Asia, see:

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89 thoughts on “Food in the Philippines: A Lingering Taste of Salty Disappointment”

  1. As a expat in Aklan I feel your pain. I have seen over the years a sharp decline in what is offered not so much in choice (I will comment on that in a minute) but in quality. I have also seen a marked increase in peoples weight and how much err “size” they are carrying. This is not something people think of when you mention Asia. Having spent time in Thailand and adopted a far more plant and veg based diet that lets be honest is far healthier than fatty meat I have found the overall quality of greens here really bad and I hate that meat is offered with everything. I also dislike that everything is drenched in Oil. A lot of newer resturants seem to want to try and sell a slightly more varied choice but it is more often than not executed poorly, I know I seem to really be bashing the Philippines here but It is a view that is shared by many ex pats and visitors. Before I came here i was expecting spices and super healthy Asian food sadly I have been offered fairly lack luster food that feels like it is cobbled together without much care and the imported food (italian,chinese) is just as bad. I can see why the younger generation are addicted to junk food and why so many visitors stick with branded food outlets, I mean how sad is it that 7/11 is packed in the morning with people eating American hotdogs.

    Regards

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing your perspective. I hadn’t noticed the 7/11 hotdogs points – sad. Let’s hope things eventually get better. We had awful food in the UK just a few decades ago but some savvy chefs and dedicated locals turned things around.

      • I am actually from the UK and indeed the choices there now are excellent compared with years ago.

        My concern with Filipino food and the culture of the wealthier middle class to some extent is that home cooking has been replaced with fast food as you rightly pointed out. I was with my wife in a major supermarket and I was going to make a pizza base, easy you would think??.. I had to go to two other locations just to get yeast, its a fundamental part of cooking!!! yet I could not buy it. It is almost like what has happened in the UK with companies like Home base, at one time you could get proper DIY equipment and tools but know if it is not plastic sealed flat pack you do not have a choice. The same has happened here, if it is not made by “Insert major food brand” you will struggle to find it. I routinely by pass the supermarkets (where wealthier families will shop) and head to the wet markets to source what fruit and veg I can. I have a feeling in the next decade the Philippines will suffer a massive health crisis due to obesity and poor food. The difference in peoples shapes from the rural areas to the major towns is starting to really show. I just hope the locals can see what is happening but the power of fast food and poor local based options will be a no brainer for the current generation, Big Mac, Fries, drink with a ice cream will win out every time.

        Regards

        • Interesting. I did think that about all of the fast-food. I hope change happens for obesity and other health risks setting. On a positive note it’s good to hear that the food situation has improved since I was there. I’m heading to Southeast Asia again at the beginning of next year and I’m considering revisiting the Philippines so that’s given my food depression a boost.

        • Well..yeast isn’t a fundamental part of cooking in the Philippines. Yes, majority of the Filipinos have poor health…but no, even when a century (or a giga-century) has passed by, obesity will be the least of the Philippine’s problems re health…unlike in the US or UK.

  2. one thing i can say to you, i think your taste bud’s not suited for filipino so don’t come back here forever or else you’ll starve to death.

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my taste buds. I’ve had some great tips from locals about how to find better food, so I have every intention of returning to the Philippines and, not to worry, if I managed not to starve to death the first time around, I think my chances of survival are much higher for a return visit 🙂

  3. What about seafood? Every time I read about Filipino cuisine I’m surprised at the lack of seafood dishes…I would assume there must be plenty of it on the islands?? Is it possible to buy fresh fish and seafood on the islands and cook it up yourself?

    • I did eat some delicious fish but I didn’t come across much seafood…any Filipino friends able to set us straight on this?

  4. I am not a Filipino fiid expert, but thd fiid is really lacking. That is being nice. I have lived and travelled in South America, Central America, the US and Mexico, and recently moved to Manila. Not good. Coffee anf sweets aside, the food is si disappointing and even awful. Really. No words. Don’t do it. Bones, fat and salt.

  5. Hi Jo!

    I enjoyed reading your blog and am glad to know that you at least had one good meal in Palawan, my province. Yes, you are not the first foreigner to say that Filipino food somehow falls flat when compared to food from our Asian neighbors. I have to admit, it was an awakening it was when I tried Pho in Vietnam, Pad Thai in Bangkok, Satays in Malaysia, and a host of so many other wonderful dishes from around this region. I guess the palate expands and develops a need for a variety of flavors once one has tasted food from beyond our own culinary borders.
    In Manila, most local diners go to specialty restaurants that cook up the best version of a certain dish. You will find that these type of restaurants have made it their calling card for having the best( fill in the blank) in town. Not easy to trust these claims if you’re not from here. But fear not, a better way to sample really delicious local fare is to venture out into the provinces. The variety of regional flavors is astounding, if you know where to look. Heading down to Southern Luzon will bring a good appreciation for food that uses coconut milk and chilis as core ingredients. Eating around the Visayas would mean feasting on the freshest seafood cooked in a more ways one can imagine. Other regions have their own unique specialties as well. The catch and crops from from all these places contribute profoundly to the variety of local flavors. Keep in mind, Manila is often a confusing mix of all flavors from our many islands. If you want to get to the real thing, venture far and away. I hope you end up in one of our provinces and will find it hard to leave because you have fallen in love with the food.

    • Gerry, that’s a great tip about the specialty dish restaurants. They do something similar in Japan and I got along well with the system once I realised how it works. I wish I’d had all these tips (and should definitely have done more research before landing). I’m considering a return trip to the Philippines with a friend next year so I will have to try again!

  6. Im here in philippine days 9 ,all the food is just the same. Soysauce ,venigar,small lime,
    Tomato and red onion and the red sauce just almost in eveything like barbecue etc. ,really??? Im so sorry but I am feel sick so sick of the taste of the foods , I did try alot of thing , but i gues the taste its just not for me,,,

  7. My parents are from the Philippines but are half-White mestizos that they had a bad habit of cooking Filipino food everyday. It’s nothing but unclean. Fatty, greasy, salty, etc.—I’d say worse than Chinese food, which tends to be salty, for example. I swear, Filipino food is the worst out of Asian cuisine. I prefer Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, or Korean food better. Not too salty, fatty, nor greasy that it doesn’t make you bloated much.

    • Lisa, thanks for sharing your thoughts – and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with this opinion about Filipino food…have you thought of a Thai cookbook as a birthday gift for your mother?! 🙂

  8. I’m glad you are looking into visiting the Philippines again 😀 On top of Pampanga you should also look into another province which is Batanes, it is the northern most part of the country. It has been more than 5 years when I last visited Batanes and hopefully nothing much changed about it cause the time I was there it was amazing, can not compare it to anywhere in the Philippines (I believe its isolation and distance from the center helped a lot with this).

    • Thanks for the tip, Jim. I’m making a list of helpful people to know to plan my next trip to the Philippines and you’ve just rocketed into the top 3 🙂

  9. Hi Jo,

    I enjoyed reading your blog, I actually ended here while searching for places to eat Fugu (as I’ll be heading to Japan this winter) and I saw your blog about the Philippines, my home country. I know it is a year old but I just want to put in my 2 cents.

    Just a bit about myself, 30 year old Filipino guy, who loves eating and exploring new place and food. I have now moved to Singapore and have been here for 4+ years. I try to go somewhere new as much as my pocket would allow me. (Just so people know where I’m coming from)

    Enough of myself, let me just put in my modest opinion on Filipino Food.

    I must agree with you that our food normally is in the extremely salty, sweet, sour, bitter end of the spectrum. Most Filipino food is accompanied by white rice (lots of it), which I think made it necessary for our food to be a bit overpowering.

    Regrettably you are correct in saying that our food can not compare to other Asian/South East Asian cuisine. I have traveled a bit around SE Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia) and I would normally eat at roadside stalls away from the main tourist spots. I would have to rank Thai and Viet at the top for SE Asia. Unlike Thai or Viet cooking Filipino c

    Firstly, If anybody is travelling to the Philippines, spend as little time as possible in Manila. The provinces is the way to see the beauty (and deliciousness) of my country. Even when I come home to visit, I try to avoid Manila.

    Also for food, the small eateries (“carinderia” as we call them) in Manila are meant to make profit and unfortunately we Filipinos have the “kung lulusot..” mentality (literally – “if it could work…”) which means to cut corners even if it sacrifices the quality of work/product, thus resulting in disappointing versions of good food.

    Just looking at the 1st photo, which is of Kare-kare (Filipino stew normally of oxtail/tripe/beef in peanut based sauce) it is obviously made with very little care to either taste or texture or aesthetics. I am pretty sure the one you had was made the same way as instant noodles -boil and add packet seasoning(I am not sure why this place was recommended to you). Real Kare-kare should have a thicker sauce made from roasted ground peanuts, with a variety of greens in it accompanied by shrimp paste. This is not made to be eaten on its own, it is to be eaten with perfectly cooked fluffy white rice.

    If you are looking for great food in the Philippines, I would suggest the province of Pampanga which is about 2 hours north of Manila. I am from this province so it may seem like a biased opinion, but even if you would ask Filipinos from other province they know that “Kapampangans” are the best cooks of the country. Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmerman visited Pampanga on their respective shows a few years back.

    Here is a link of some good Filipino food .

    Oh just one thing your experience in Sofitel i dont really it as Finding Filipino Food Heaven, as a lot of the food in that post have no connection with either the Philippines or the Filipinos. (But I hate that lady at the sushi line too ;))

    I still have so much I would like to comment about but I think its already been quite a long post on my end, maybe I should start my own blog lol

    Overall I appreciate how honest your views are. Keep it up. And hopefully you have a better experience next time!

    Cheers!
    Jim

    • Jim, thanks for such amazing insight into both the food and culture behind the food in the Philippines. I’m absolutely determined to revisit the country if for no reason than to go on a food tasting trip and finally discover some good eats. And on the note Pampanga is now on my list. That’s really interesting about the kare kare I ate (featured in the picture) and makes complete sense. It did taste like something out of a service station! Some of the tastier things I tried were in Manila, but that’s probably because I started to lean towards western foods at that point. And you’re right, the Sofitel food wasn’t Filipino (apart from the delicious dessert) so I’ve have been better calling that post: Finding Food Heaven in the Philippines!” Maybe next time I write a post along those lines I will have returned to your home country and achieved my goal 🙂 Finally, as for the length of your comment, feel free to share as much as you like. I’m not known for short posts and comments so go ahead and voice your thoughts regardless of the length 🙂

  10. It’s a matter of perspective. As an Asian, I find Mexican food to taste the same with almost always the same ingredients just wrapped differently. I’m not event talking about Taco Bell but the restaurants run by Mexicans catering to Mexicans

    I live in a very Mexican area in the US (lots of Mexicans directly from Mexico) and I think Mexican food in very overrated.

    I don’t think Filipino food in itself is inherently inferior. Has more to do with the technique of the family or the restaurant. In fact, I’m actually surprised a bit by some comments that the flavors are basically “salt and sugar”. The ones who “feed” me, I could taste the tangy vinegar, garlic, pepper, simmered vegetables, shallots, etc….

    • Chun, I agree that taste absolutely is a matter of perspective. I’m in Mexico at the moment and agree that tacos can come to taste samey…but I would take that over Filipino variety 🙂 Maybe it’s because I’m a spice monster? As for Filipino food, yes, it will come down to the original chef and I definitely need to find some good home cooking next time I go back. The idea of being able to taste the tang of vinegar as well as shallots and garlic and pepper sounds like a delight!

  11. You should go around the Philippines with a tour guide next time. There are plenty of good restaurants in the Philippines. For instance, you can find the best kare-kare in Pampanga, but you can also find good ones in Manila. The one you had (based on your photo) looks really sad. I have to agree that tapas (and other currd meats) are so salty, but there’s history behind it. The temperature and humidity in the country can spoil meat so easily, hence, early Filipinos use of lots and lots of salt. Since early Filipinos were very poor, they used basic ingredients – as basic as salt and pepper – that’s it. Cured meats are often dipped in vinegar or eaten with sliced tomatoes to tone down its saltiness. Point is – a tour guide (a food blogger perhaps) should be a great help. There are plenty of restaurants and dining places in the Philippines, but it’s really hard to find good ones.

    • Hi Haurold – great tips and yes, I will definitely be doing more research and getting more local advice for my next visit. Interesting about the local meats and a good suggestion for diluting the saltiness and I’ll try that next time!

  12. Couldn’t agree more with your blog. I went to the Philippines on a vacation. Believe me, I tried eating everything — even the Balut. Long story short, I ended up losing 10 pounds in 10 days.

    Beautiful country. Nice people. But I wouldn’t go there for the cuisine. This is not a knock on the Philippines. It is what it is. And maybe that explains why there is a dearth of Filipino restaurants outside of the Philippines.

    • Wow, that’s quite a lot of weight to lose! And I agree, everything else about the Philippines is great….just not the food. I’ve been informed that there are some good restaurants outside of the Philippines although they are few and far between and I’ve yet to try one.

  13. You write up is 100% accurate. Filipino food is definitely non comparable to the neighboring countries. I gave the Pinoy cuisine many years of chance to let it grow on me…but sadly, it didn’t.

    During my time in the Philippines, I always find it hard to decline invitations to some Pinoy house parties.

    Almost every household will claim that their mom makes the best adobo, sinigang, kare kare, pinakbet etc. Isn’t this claim kinda universal but not necessarily the truth. Everybody will claim their mom makes the best so and so.

    When it comes to food, it is a very sensitive issue when you don’t share the same sentiments as the locals. They feel insulted when you don’t enjoy their cuisine. They become defensive as they might have the feeling we think they are crazy for enjoying the kind of food they like.

    I have always try to be gracious about not condemning the Pinoy cuisine but sometimes I get frustrated ( I am a serious foodie…lol ) when a Filipino telling me how great their cuisine is and comparable to Thai food, how we never really give the Pinoy cuisine a fair chance…but when I finally take the bite, I feel cheated.

    I think I am on a mission to finally let the Filipino see the truth. I want them to really accept that their food is really inferior. They should stop promoting their food for tourism, but rather concentrate on the beaches, good musical talents and a country that speaks and understand English.

    To sum up my long comment, I always try to treat Filipino food like the kid of my best friend. Only thing is, the kid is not cute, in fact he doesn’t look good at all. I know my best friend will love his kid till death no matter what other people might say about the kid. I for one will not be honest and tell my friend how ugly his kid even though it is the truth. I will most probably say, hey man…that’s your kid…you gotta love him no matter what!

    • Bruno, seems we share exactly the same sentiment and I’m comforted to a large extent because although I was only in the Philippines for 21 days (and how can someone really judge something like cuisine in such a short stay), I see you’ve been persevering with the food for much longer, only to reach the same conclusion. I agree it is hard to form a non-positive view of a country’s food without offending at least some of the local people – not something I want to do because the people I met were beautiful, friendly, generous and kind. I had a debate recently about whether or not blogs should include negative reviews and I believe it’s important to portray the bad as well as the good if only so people can set their expectations. I’m pleased someone told me that the Mona Lisa was tiny and I wish I’d known about the Filipino food before I arrived – if nothing else, I wouldn’t have spent the whole time wondering if I was doing it (eating) all wrong! Ha ha – love your kid of your best friend analogy!

  14. Thank you for your criticism of Filipino food. Although blog says negative things about your food experience here in the Philippines, this is something we can definitely swallow, as it does not demean or insult our traditions. You also chose your words carefully making it sound more sensitive, professional and reader conscious.

    By the way, should you decide to come back to the Philippines, you can experience more of the Filipino cuisine and culture in provinces. Better if you can find a host family where you can stay. I guarantee they will make your stay more worthwhile, but prepare a huge appetite once they invite you for a meal, because when we have guests we tend to serve them the best tasting food one can prepare at the largest serving we can manage.

    • Hi Aize, I’m glad you’re not insulted by my comments. It can be hard when you’re trying to express an opinion that isn’t all positive and my dislike was the food and not the people or the country. I think your idea of staying with a local family would be an excellent and much better way to try Filipino food and I’ll add that to my list of things to do when I return – fortunately I have a very healthy appetite!

  15. Having come to the Philippines many times, and have travelled throughout the islands. I agree with Jo, that staying on a budget and eating primarily street food for flavor and balance of taste, it is not even in the same league as in other neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, or Indonesia. Most street food available is of limited choice and includes a high degree of salt, most likely as a preservative since it is out all day. Just as important to note is it doesn’t have the rich favors,quality, nor comparable price associated with its neighbors. If you want good quality Filipino food, I’m sure it’s available in high end restaurants, but you’ll need to pay the price. I wish that some street vendors would try to create some new salt free economical viable unique and delicious items that would set them apart from what all the other vendors seem to sell.

    Kai

    • Kai, you make a really good point about comparing the food to neighbouring countries. I think my expectations were so high because I don’t think I’d had a bad mean in Asia until I got the the Philippines and I was flat out surprised. I guess we shouldn’t assume one country’s cuisine from it’s neighbours. I mean, I love English food, but I imagine visitors would be very upset if they were expecting to get food of the quality you can find in Italy and France :/ But yes, more varied and less salty street food would be an excellent start in the Philippines.

  16. I’m delicious, you just don’t like Filipino food the way Filipinos like them and the food is not made for foreigners. It’s for the Filipinos

    • Fair point. A lot of people don’t like British food and yet as a nation we can’t get enough of it. I guess it is what you’re used to. That said, I would like to have another go at Filipino food and as I plan to return, I’ll being a lot more food research for my next visit – all recommendations welcome 🙂

  17. I been to Manila once and I have to say the food is a bit salty and greasy for my stomach. I ended eating fruits and salads most of my trip because the first couple of days ruin my stomach with all that grease and fat.

    • I don’t want to admit it but I’m pretty accustomed to grease and fat 🙂 It was the flavour that got me…but I plan to return for a second, better attempt!

  18. Having just spent 3 weeks in the Philippines, I have to agree with you. I am unable to report one single good meal. No doubt a few exceptions exist, but it shouldn’t be so hard to find palatable food. Even the most basic of things is rarely done correctly; numerous times I ordered eggs and toast – as the alternatives were horrific – and, instead of toast, was given barely warm bread. I mean, if a cafe can’t manage to toast bread, what hope is there? On one occasion I asked why the bread was not toasted at all, and was told, “Sorry sir but our toaster is not working today.” That’s fine, but perhaps better to let the customer know when they’re ordering.

    On a positive note, I have managed to lose a lot of weight during my short time in the Philippines. And I love the country and the people, it’s just the food that is truly dire.

    • Don’t get me onto the topic of toast! I had a bad experience in Dublin recently – a city that should know better. I was in a rather upmarket brunch place and the soda bread toast came burnt. I frowned and the surly waiter challenged me “is it everything ok”. I pointed to the burnt toast to which he educated me to the fact it was a food phenomenon called “toast”. I think it was his manner, but it irked me. I explained I’d eaten toast before, most days for breakfast in fact and that I consistently manage to cook it without burning it. Of course, being British, when it came to the crunch (no pun intended), I tutted under my breath and ate the charred bread. One of my readers below, Narciso, has listed a bunch of restaurants he recommends in the Philippines – maybe try some of those. Weight loss is only fun for 5 minutes. You’ll need your strength for sight seeing! Hope you find better food…and if you do, please tell me where!!!

  19. Where are you eating? I can’t believe Jollibee and Kenny Rogers Roasters are even used as barometers for an entire cuisine. From the looks of it, your best experience, outside of a buffet, was at a resort not exactly known for it’s food. This is…unfortunate and a bit disconcerting. There are plenty of good eating establishments that serve solid local fare, with a little more to offer than gourmet pig’s ears. Bale Datung, Antonio’s, Abe, Fely J’s, Cucina de Tita Moning, Sentro 1771, Laudico’s, XO 46, Kabila, Milky Way, the list goes on…and that’s just in and around Manila. Tony Bourdain has gone so far as to declare The Philippines’ version of roast pork the best he’s ever had…ever. You don’t even have to look past the US. Just look at the NYC dining scene, Filipino cuisine is on the rise…Pig and Khao, Jeepney, Maharlika. People flock to those places. My conclusion is you’re just eating underwhelming versions of proper local food. If you make it back, let me know, and I’ll tell you where to eat. There won’t be one fast food establishment on that list, nor a hotel’s version of local fare.

    • Hi Narciso, thanks for taking the time to comments and also for the list of places to eat in Manila – I definitely wish I had that when I was there. And I do hope I was eating underwhelming versions of proper local food because I definitely plan to go back to Manila and I’ll check out your recommendations when I do. I was in the islands for three weeks and Jollibe (2 times), Kenny Rogers and the Sofitel were just four of my meals – the first two I tried in hope of finding some nice chilly A/C!. I ate in a huge number of place, I just don’t remember their names but apart from the the street food, which I really enjoyed, most of stuff in the other restaurants just didn’t push my happy food button. Nice to hear that Filipino cuisine is on the rise – I’m in the UK at the moment and I’d love to hear if you have any good recommendations for London. I would gladly embrace the idea that I simply had a bad food experience during my visit and I would love to be a Filipino food convert so I will definitely get in contact when I make it back 🙂 Thanks again.

  20. I’ve been to the Philippines a few times and I unfortunately have to agree. Salt and sugar, that’s about it.

    I guess there is a reason that we don’t see many Filipino restaurants around…..

    • I would add oil to that list of Filipino cooking essentials but yes, it does explain the lack of international Philippines restaurants!

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