12 Traditional Food in the Philippines

May 14 , 2021 · 5 min read

You might not have tried food from the Philippines before because this small Asian country isn’t found on international menus as commonly as Chinese, Vietnamese or Thai food. But food from the Philippines is just as delicious as food from its neighboring countries. The Philippines serves up delicious traditional dishes so prepare for a feast.

Here are some of the Philippines’ traditional food you might come across during your travels.


Adobo in the Philippines

Adobo is a signature Filipino dish that everyone loves. Adobo to Filipinos is what fish and chips is to the English or kimchi Mundo is to Koreans. It is made by stewing chicken and pork in soy sauce, garlic and vinegar with peppercorns and bay leaves to define the flavors. You will find it on many restaurant menus from the north to the south. 


Kare-are in the Philippines

Kare-are is a decadent stew made with peanut sauce, oxtail and beef. Fresh vegetables might be added on top. Rich in taste, it is usually served with a side dish of bagoong (fermented seafood paste). 


Lechon in the Philippines

It is quite a sight to see Lechon being cooked. A whole baby pig is roasted, complete with the head and filled with herbs and vegetables. After many hours of being turned and cooked over a hot fire, the juicy meat is ready to eat. The island of Cebu is well-known for serving up the best Lechon, and if you attend a special event or celebration, it’s likely to be on the menu. Not the healthiest dish but very delicious. Many consider this the national dish, while others say that honor goes to adobo. 

Pancit Palabok

Pancit Palabok in Philippines

If you are lucky enough to be invited to a party or special occasion, you might be served up some pancit palabok. A delicious dish of noodles with a rich orange sauce consisting of shrimp, pork, eggs and sometimes seafood. It is pretty flavorsome and rich and not to be missed. 


Sinugno Philippines Food

If you happen to venture to the province of Quezon, south of Manila, you might see sinugno on the menu. It translates to fish cooked in coconut milk with chili to add some hot flavor. It is delicious, fresh and healthy, so we highly recommend trying it.


Sisig in Philippines

Like many traditional dishes of the Philippines, Sisig is heavy on meat. The tasty dish includes pork liver and pork cheeks. Add a dash of hot sauce and local seasoning and you will be most satisfied. 


Bulalo in Philippines

Hot bulalo soup or broth is made with freshly slaughtered Batangas beef that has been cooked for many hours before it hits the table. Full of bones laden with marrow, it is a hearty dish that will leave you full and content. 

Crispy Pata

Crispy Pata in Philippines

Port knuckle is the main ingredient of crispy pata. It is cooked then fried to get that crispy texture on the outside while retaining a soft inside that is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Locals love it with vinegar, soy sauce, and chili.


Lumpia in Philippines

Here is a dish you might have tried at home at a restaurant serving Asian food. It is the Filipino version of spring rolls that many Asian countries make. As you take your first bite, you will taste pork, carrots and prawns. Dip it in soy or oyster sauce and fall in love with the amazing taste. Sometimes a sweet and sour banana ketchup dipping sauce is served with this famous dish. It’s pure heaven!

Tinolang Manok

Tinolang Manok in Philippines

Also known as chicken Tinola, this is a wonderful soupy dish featuring chicken, garlic, ginger, onion and fish sauce which is simmered in flavorsome chicken stock before serving. Many people enjoy it for its medicinal benefits as well as the delectable taste and warm flavors. 

Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal in Philippines

It is grilled chicken but not KFC. The tender meat is carefully marinated in lemongrass, calamansi, seasonings and fresh garlic then covered in achuete oil. Then the chicken is grilled, including the liver, heart and wings. A generous plate of garlic rice is the perfect finish to this finger-licking good meal.

Taba ng talangka

Philippines Traditional Food

Taba ng talangka is hard to pronounce at first, but actually a simple dish in every other way. Crab fat is pressed and cooked in garlic and goes with many dishes including rice, fish, and seafood. If you like the seafood paste, you can buy a jar at the supermarket and take some home with you. 

Why is lechon the national dish of the Philippines?

Lechon is a beloved delicacy in the Philippines owing to its immense popularity. Each region of the archipelago has its own variation, but generally, it is an entire hog that has been deboned and skewered before being filled with flavorful spices and wrapped in leaves or foil before roasting until it achieves that unmistakable golden crisp skin. The dish is considered, among many cultures, a symbol of festivity due to the planning and communal effort that goes into the preparation of lechon, so it’s no surprise that this delicious dish has become the national dish of the Philippines. Its status as both a symbol of celebration and traditional gastronomical delight makes lechon a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Room for dessert? In the Philippines, they have an array of sweet dessert options, which are often taken with lunch or dinner. 

Halo-halo is great for beating the heat. The shaved ice dessert with milk and sweet toppings always goes down a treat.

Sapin Sapin is rather special. It consists of glutinous rice dough, coconut milk, sugar, condensed milk and fruit flavoring. This chewy dessert takes a long time to make and is often served at festive occasions or special events. 

These are just some of the wonderful dishes you might discover when you go for a vacation in the Philippines. There are too many to mention here, but we say this trip is a time to be adventurous and try new food. It’s one of the best parts of traveling.

Make sure your taste buds are fired up for some fabulous meals and enjoy your journey. Filipinos love food, entertaining and of course, with that comes drinks too. You surely will be offered some local whiskey, wine or beer with many of your meals.

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