On my 5th or 6th trip to Manila, I finally learn more about Filipino cuisine and some of the must-haves. I recalled blogging about this some time back but this time around, I tried a few other stuff!
Firstly, if you are not a big fan of porky pork or fried food, Filipino cuisine might not agree with you. The bulk of the menu is everything to do with pork. Pork done in various ways - grilled, fried, in soups, stir-fried, in all parts - intestines, trotters, stomach etc etc. Frankly, I didn't enjoy most of it but I did try it - except the balut i.e. uh a duck egg with a fully developed embryo!! I think it is too cruel and gross and absolutely refuse to try it!
Here is a list of typical Filipino dishes that you might see on the menu -
Fried beef - It doesn't look nor taste like beef. I found it too oily and nothing like meat. It's really crispy.
Fried pigs intestines - I absolutely don't like innards but decided to be brave and try at least a bite of it. Verdict? Urgh. It's crispy, airy, somewhat light in texture but super oily.
Pork knuckles - similar to the german pork knuckles - fully fried and oily. If you enjoy fried pork, you'll like this.
Fried tilapia - tastes just like most standard fried fish, the meat is quite moist with a crispy outer (yea everything here is fried and crispy)
Squid in olive oil - This I love. It's tiny squids stirred fried in olive oil. Simple but really tasty
Tamarind pork soup - A clear soup with pieces of pork inside. The taste is sourish (from the tamarind) and it tastes somewhat like pickled cabbage soup (kiam chye? soup) but with a strong pork aftertaste.
Bamboo rice - rice steamed in bamboo. The rice isn't plain, it's somewhat like claypot rice where there are ingredients like garlic, mushrooms, etc
Rellenong bangus - stuffed whole milkfish with savory tomato sauce. I once tried the homecooked version at a co-worker's house and fell in love with it! The way it is done at restaurants is different. At home, thick fillets are used instead of a whole fish and the milkfish is wrapped in leaves for better fragrance and flavor. The fish meat is scrapped out and mixed with vegetables (this one had raisins, peas and more stuff inside!). It's really yummy and hearty.
Rellenong talong - looks like a simple omelette but it is actually broiled eggplant stuffed with sauteed ground pork and cooked in beaten egg. Very yummy!
Kalandan drink/juice - local orange! Similar to the Thai orange juice, it's sweet and reminds me of mandarin oranges
Halo halo dessert - simply put, it's like Singapore's ice kachang! It's a huge glass of shaved ice and milk mixed with boiled sweet beans (red beans, mung beans, kidney beans etc), jackfruit and the yummylicious yam ice cream! As I'm not a fan of ice kachang, this wasn't a favorite of mine so I just went straight for the single scoop of yam ice cream :)
So if you are in Manila the next time around, you have an idea on what to look out for.