Local Flavors

Nomadic Boys: Our Top 10 Favorite Filipino Dishes


Stefan Arestis
Stefan Arestis | Dec 04, 2015

Chicken adobo...kare kare...kinilaw...lechon...there's so much to the Philippines' awesome and unique cuisine. Here's Nomadic Boys, Stefan and Sebastien's 10 favourite foods they tried during their month adventure in the Philippines.


#1 CHICKEN ADOBO: that famous Filipino dish

Chicken adobo is one of the most famous foods to try in the Philippines, known and loved by everyone. It means marinade in Spanish and this is just that: chicken (or pork) marinated in a mixture of soya sauce and vinegar. Other ingredients are added depending on whose recipe you follow.

Our recipe for chicken adobo has been simplified to enable us to replicate it at home. Another recipe we tried was infused adobo with tea at the excellent restaurant: Station 7Tea8S in Quezon City with our local friend Dennis.

#2 KARE KARE: oxtail stew 

Kare kare is an oxtail and ox tripes stew with lots of vegetables, flavoured with ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter, onions and garlic. It is served with shrimp sauce (called bagoong), sometimes spiced with chill and sprinkled with calamansi juice (Filipino lime).

Kare kare is famous throughout the whole country and the alleged origin of its name is from the word ‘curry’ due to the influence of the Indian community in Metro Manila’s Cainta, Rizal area.

#3 HALO HALO: a cheeky desert

This is THE famous Filipino desert. Halo Halo means mixed together in Tagalog, the Filipino language. It is served in a tall glass containing ice shavings, evaporated milk and various small chunks of yummy goodies all mixed in together.

Yummy goodies include boiled kidney beans, chickpeas (“garbanzo”), sugar palm fruit (“kaong”), jackfruit, tapioca, sweet potato, sweet beans, coconut gel, ice cream, guava paste, purple yam and many more!

The end result is a tropical, colourful and exciting mess: great for the beach!

#4 SINIGANG: sour meat stew

Sinigang is a meat based sour stew or soup with lots of vegetables. The most popular souring agent is tamarind (sampalok). Pork (baboy) is the most common meat used but chicken, beef and fish are also popular. 

Alternative souring agents include guava, tomatoes or kalamansi (Filipino lime). We enjoyed this soup so much that our Filipina friend BC Lee was kind enough to give us her recipe for sinigang.

#5 KINILAW: raw fish salad

Kinilaw is similar to the famous Peruvian dish called ceviche. It is a raw fish salad served in an acidic juice, usually kalamansi (Filipino lime) and vinegar, which “cooks” the meat. Kinilaw comes from the word, “kilaw” which means, ‘eaten fresh’. Other ingredients usually include garlic, ginger, onion, pepper and chilli.

#6 PAKSIW NA LECHON: suckling pig prizes

Lechon means ‘suckling pig’ in Spanish and is literally a whole pig roasted over charcoal for many hours for special occasions. The lechon of Cebu is considered one of the most famous places to eat it.

The leftovers of the lechon are stewed with vinegar and spices and become a delicious dish called “paksiw na lechon”. Paksiw literally means: to cook and simmer with vinegar.

#7 TAPSILOG: a cured beef Filipino breakfast

Taspsilog is a famous Filipino breakfast, which refers to the contents comprising the meal. In this case, cured beef (tapa), fried rice (sinangag) and a fried egg (itlog).

Variants include ‘adosilog’ (adobo with fried rice and fried egg), litsilog (lechon with fried rice and egg) and ‘Stefansilog’ (a Stefan with fried rice and egg…ok this one is us being silly!):

#8 BUKO: the Filipino coconut!

Buko is the word for coconut in the Filipino language (called Tagalog). No day in the Philippines was complete for us without the famous buko…first the juice then eating the yummy fleshy fruit inside. We quickly became the Bucoholics of Boracay…

#9 RUM: the Filipino spirit of choice

The Philippines is THE big rum producer in Asia and is the Filipino’s spirit of choice. It’s made from sugar cane and usually cheaper than bottled water.

Tanduay rum has been around since 1854. It is so famous throughout Asia that it has become the world’s second most popular rum brand in the world after Bacardi.


Now THIS bad boy always raises eyebrows with every foreigner and we couldn't do an article on food in the Philippines without mentioning it.

Balut is a developing duck embryo boiled and eaten as a snack in the shell and with a splash of vinegar. It is a popular street food, which originated in the Philippines and is also frequently found in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

This is definitely one of the most famous foods to try in the Philippines (and probably the strangest for foreigners).

For more travel stories from the Nomadic Boys, check out their travel blog.

Read More Amazing Stories of Foreigners Who Love the Philippines: 

1) Canadian Who Traveled to 29 Countries, Chooses a Philippine Paradise Island

2) Swedish Girl Finds Happiness in a Tear-Drop Shaped Island in the Philippines

3) Plush and Play: A Frenchman Helps Filipino Families with Fun & Toys

4) 3 Months in a Country That Has It All: A German Guy’s Praise for the Philippines 

5) Canadian Wants to Become Filipino, Rocks Northern Mindanao!

6) Rediscovering the Beauty of Boracay: A Paradise Island for Your Eyes

7) Arab Man: "We Could Die a Slow Death if Filipinos Chose to Leave Us.”

8) 5 Amazing Things to Do in Philippines: A Singaporean Couple's Experience

9) Top 5 Things to Do in El Nido: A British Lady's Experience

10) 10 Reasons Why You Should Explore the Philippines: A Blog Rockstar's Take

11) Meet the Foreigner Who Has Visited All 81 Provinces of the Philippines



Add to your: Wishlist Done That

Be a Pinoy Wanderer!

Choose Philippines encourages writers, photographers, travelers, bloggers, videographers and everyone with a heart for the Philippines to share their discoveries and travel stories.

Share Your Journey

Other Stories by Stefan Arestis

Tell Us What You Think