Planning to visit Manila and ride a jeep? If you are, then you’ve got to try out some of the street foods in the Philippines because you can commonly find these stalls at the terminal. From freshly cooked tusok-tusok (skewered delicacies) fish and squid balls dipped in sweet and sour sauce and shaved ice with chocolate syrup to grilled chicken heads and pork barbecue, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the traditional meryenda (snacks) of the locals. Unsure which are the best ones to try? Read our expert roundup with Tagalog names below!
Can I be real with you? As a proud Filipino, I’ve come to realize that our street food is more than just a delightful taste—it’s an immersive experience that takes you deep into the heart and soul of Filipino culture. You see, food holds an extraordinary place in the lives of Filipinos. It’s not merely sustenance for the body; it’s a celebration, a way to forge connections, and a mirror reflecting our society.
What makes Filipino street food even more remarkable is its affordability. Catering to the middle-class and lower-class masses, street food vendors offer their delectable creations at unbelievably affordable prices. Imagine this: for a meager $0.18, you can treat yourself to a cup of crispy chicken skin drenched in spicy sauce if you’re in the mood for something crunchy. Or perhaps a stick of “walkman,” also known as grilled pig ears, to satisfy your smoky cravings.
Growing up in the Philippines, street food was an integral part of my daily life. I can vividly recall the bustling streets adorned with food vendors, their sizzling grills permeating the air with irresistible aromas. For me, it was a symphony of sounds—a joyful chorus of clinking utensils, the melodious laughter of friends huddled around, and the tantalizing sizzle of skewers hitting the scorching hot grill.
So if you’re looking for a way to actually enjoy Filipino cuisine, then you should try some of the ones we rounded up below! Let’s begin!
Popular Street Foods In The Philippines
Ready to indulge and try out the food in the Philippines? If yes, then prepare your appetite, bring an open mind, and a sense of adventure as you embark on this sizzling culinary exploration.
Balut: The Unconventional Delicacy That Will Challenge Your Palate
Price: 10 PHP per cup
Hold onto your seats (and your sense of adventure) because we’re about to introduce you to Balut, the one-of-a-kind street food sensation that has sparked debates, raised eyebrows, and delighted daring eaters for generations. Basically, a balut is a fertilized duck egg, boiled to perfection, and waiting for you to crack it open and take a bold bite. It’s not for the faint of heart, but trust us, the mix of savory broth, tender meat, and unique textures will make you question everything you thought you knew about street food.
But wait, there’s more! We can’t talk about balut without mentioning its sibling, Penoy.
What sets Penoy apart is that it’s an unfertilized duck egg, offering a slightly different taste and texture. While balut features a partially developed embryo, Penoy is all about the velvety smoothness of the egg yolk. It’s a milder and creamier alternative for those looking to explore the world of Filipino street food without venturing into the more daring territory of balut.
Isaw: Grilled Intestines On A Stick
Price: 15 PHP per stick
Get ready to experience a sizzling adventure for your taste buds with Isaw—the beloved Filipino street food that takes grilled goodness to a whole new level. Now, you might be thinking, “Grilled intestines? That sounds unusual!” And you’re absolutely right!
Isaw may not be for the faint of heart or those seeking a conventional culinary experience but trust me when I say that the rewards are worth the adventurous leap. Skewered onto bamboo sticks, these delectable morsels are then grilled over open flames, resulting in a charred and smoky exterior that encases a tender and juicy center. The combination of textures—the slightly crispy outer layer giving way to a melt-in-your-mouth interior—creates a symphony of flavors that will leave you craving for more.
Want something more daring?
Allow me to introduce you to the brother of Isaw—Betamax. Yes, you read that right! Betamax is not just a format for old video tapes; it’s also the name given to another unconventional Filipino street food delight. It is made from cubes or rectangles of coagulated pig’s blood, skewered onto bamboo sticks, and grilled to perfection. While its appearance may be unconventional, the flavors and textures are what make it truly remarkable.
As the grill works its magic, the cubes of Betamax transform into a smoky and slightly crispy treat. The exterior develops a beautiful char, while the interior remains tender and rich in flavor. Each bite offers a unique combination of earthiness and a subtle hint of sweetness, creating a taste experience that is unlike anything you’ve ever encountered.
BBQ: Grilled Goodness That Will Ignite Your Taste Buds
Price: 20 PHP per stick
Got a love affair with marinated and grilled meat? Glistening on top of grillers is the Pinoy favorite BBQ! The secret behind the mouthwatering magic of Filipino BBQ lies in the marinade. Each piece of meat—be it tender pork, juicy chicken, or succulent beef—is lovingly bathed in a blend of aromatic spices, soy sauce, vinegar, and other secret ingredients that vary from one vendor to another. This marinade infuses the meat with flavors that intensify during the grilling process, resulting in a caramelized exterior and a tender interior that is simply irresistible.
To complete the Filipino barbecue experience, a selection of mouthwatering dipping sauces is typically offered. From the classic combination of soy sauce and calamansi to spicy vinegar or sweet banana ketchup, these sauces add an extra layer of depth and tang to the already exquisite flavors of the grilled meat.
Adidas: A Unique Delicacy That Will Leave You Wanting More
Price: 10 PHP per stick
Prepare to take a step into the realm of unconventional street food with Adidas, a Filipino culinary delight that may initially raise an eyebrow but will ultimately captivate your taste buds. Yes, you read it right—Adidas refers to none other than grilled chicken feet, a dish that showcases the creativity and resourcefulness of Filipino street food culture.
Before hitting the grill, the chicken feet undergo meticulous preparation, ensuring that they are thoroughly cleaned and marinated to get that authentically Filipino taste. The result is tender, juicy morsels with a slightly gelatinous texture that adds a delightful mouthfeel to each bite. As the grill works its magic, the chicken feet take on a beautiful char, creating a smoky and slightly crispy exterior that perfectly complements the succulent meat within.
Adidas is often enjoyed with a tangy and spicy vinegar dip, which adds a punch of acidity and heat to complement the savory profile of the dish. Dip a piece of grilled chicken foot into the vinegar, take a bite, and allow the explosion of flavors to take you on a culinary adventure like no other. You’ll be surprised by the addictive nature of this unconventional treat!
Tusok-Tusok: A Skewer Delight of Fishballs, Squidballs, Tokneneng, and Kwek-Kwek
Price: 10 PHP per cup
Tusok-Tusok is a beloved street food experience that showcases an array of delectable treats on a stick. From the iconic fish balls and squid balls to the orange-looking tokneneng and kwek-kwek, Tusok-Tusok is a carnival of flavors that will leave you craving for more. The best part? They are super affordable and easy to cook!
Let’s begin with the classic Fishballs. These small and delightful treats are made by combining ground fish, flour, and a variety of seasonings. Skewered on bamboo sticks and deep-fried to perfection, they turn crispy on the outside while remaining tender and flavorful inside. Enjoy them by dipping them in savory, tangy, or spicy sauces and savor the burst of flavors with each mouthwatering bite.
Next on our list are the equally tempting Squidballs. These unique squid-based snacks offer a different twist compared to traditional fishballs. With a slightly chewy texture and savory taste, Squidballs bring a delightful variation to the Tusok-Tusok experience. Made from squid meat, flour, and aromatic spices, they create a delicious treat loved by locals and visitors alike.
Moving along, we have the colorful Tokneneng and Kwek-Kwek. Tokneneng consists of hard-boiled quail eggs coated in an orange-colored batter and deep-fried until crispy. On the other hand, Kwek-Kwek follows a similar concept but uses larger chicken eggs. The result is a delightful combination of textures—a crispy outer layer with a creamy and rich center. These delightful bites are often enjoyed with a tangy vinegar dip, adding a zesty touch that perfectly complements the flavors.
Other Filipino Street Foods
While we have already explored some of the iconic street foods in the Philippines, the culinary adventure doesn’t end there. Since I’m a Filipino myself, here are some of my recommendations for you!
|Silken tofu, sweet syrup, and tapioca pearls combine in a comforting treat.
|Tangy and chewy tamarind candy for a nostalgic flavor experience.
|Ground pork or shrimp mixed with vegetables and wrapped in bean curd sheets, then deep-fried to perfection.
|Ripe bananas caramelized in brown sugar for a sweet and sticky treat.
|A warm and savory rice cake topped with salted egg, cheese, and butter.
|A refreshing mix of crushed ice, sweet fruits, jellies, and ube ice cream for a delightful dessert experience.
|Stir-fried noodle dishes with an array of vegetables, meat, and savory sauces.
|Mangga at Bagoong
|Tangy green mangoes paired with savory shrimp paste for a delicious contrast of flavors.
|Crispy spring roll filled with caramelized bananas for a delightfully sweet treat.
|A savory pastry filled with a flavorful mixture of meat, vegetables, and spices.
|Chopped and seasoned pig’s face and ears served in a sizzling plate with crispy pork bits and onions.
These are just a few examples of the wide range of street foods you can find in the Philippines. Each dish tells a story and offers a unique blend of flavors, textures, and cultural significance. So, be sure to explore the bustling streets, indulge in these delicious treats, and let your taste buds guide you through the extraordinary world of Filipino street food.
Tips For Enjoying Filipino Street Foods
When indulging in Filipino street foods, here are a few tips to enhance your experience:
- Try a variety: Explore the diverse range of street foods available and try different flavors and textures.
- Observe hygiene: Look for vendors with clean and hygienic food preparation practices to ensure food safety.
- Embrace the local experience: Engage with the vendors, ask for recommendations, and immerse yourself in the vibrant street food culture.
- Be adventurous: Don’t shy away from trying unique or exotic street food options; you might discover new favorites.
- Stay hydrated: Keep a bottle of water handy, especially when enjoying spicy street foods.
Over To You
And there we have it! As we learned in this post, Filipino street foods offer a delightful culinary adventure for food enthusiasts. From savory delights to sweet indulgences, the vibrant and diverse street food culture in the Philippines is a testament to the nation’s rich gastronomic heritage. So, the next time you find yourself in the Philippines, be sure to explore the bustling streets and treat your taste buds to the exciting flavors of Filipino street foods.
But if you want to communicate with the street vendors and the locals better, then you’ve got to try to communicate with Tagalog! And no, you don’t have to be a pro at it right away! You just have to try the basic sentence patterns and use simple words to convert what you want to say. Our advice? Level up your skills in this Asian language through Ling!
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