The Top Foods to Try in Manila

 The Top Foods to Try in Manila

The Philippines has become a hot spot for travelers over the last few years, and Manila in particular. It has become very developed with good accommodations, tourist friendly signs, and great cuisines. Check out some hotels in Manila here.

In most main dishes, you will taste flavors of soy sauce, garlic onions, mixed with vinegar. Some of the dishes may include a fish or shrimp paste (bagoong), calamansi (small citrus fruit), or anchovy sauce (patis).


This is one of the popular and famous dishes enjoyed by anyone that has tried it. It consists of marinated pork or chicken and usually served with white rice. The meat is cooked in a mixture of garlic, peppercorns, soy sauce, and vinegar. The meat is marinated for a couple of hours before it is cooked, it is then cooked over a medium simmer in a large pot or wok for about an hour. The result is a flavorful dish with the meat melting in your mouth.


There are several variations of Pancit. Depending on the type of noodle that is used. The most common is Pancit Bihon is using a transparent rice noodle (bihon), Pancit Canton or Miki uses a thick Cantonese-style wheat noodle, and Pancit Malabon is made using a thick rice noodle. The noodles are then cooked with a variety of vegetables including snow peas, cabbage, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and sauteed onions, along with either pork, chicken, fish balls, or shrimp and flavored with soy sauce, garlic, onions and sometimes juice squeezed from calamansi.


The two common variations of Lumpia are fresh(Lumpiang sariwa) and deep-fried(lumpia). Lumpiang sariwa is made with a spring roll wrap and is filled with string beans, carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes with seafood (usually shrimp) or chicken. It’s then topped with a peanut-flavored sauce. In the traditional deep-fried lumpia, the mixture of green onions, carrots, and ground beef is rolled in a thin rice flour wrapper and then deep-fried in oil, served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.

Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice)

One thing you should know about the Philippines is that it is a tradition to serve each meal with rice. For those that feel white rice is too bland, garlic fried rice is the alternative. It consists of white rice fried in a wok with vegetables, eggs, and garlic. Sometimes you will find pieces of tocino in the fried rice, depending on what it is being served with.


This is commonly cooked for breakfast with eggs or garlic fried rice. Tocino is the bacon of the Philippines. It is made by marinating a sliced pork shoulder or pork belly with anise, water sugar, salt, annatto, and sometimes pineapple juice. After this meat has cured(3-4 days of marinating) it is then fried or boiled with water.


If you prefer sausage over bacon, longganisa is one food to try. It is made with seasoned chicken, beef or pork rolled into links or formed into patties. The typical seasonings include garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, pepper, salt, and paprika. This is most commonly served with eggs, or garlic fried rice, like tocino.

Kare Kare

Filipino food is inspired by many cultures, especially the Thai culture. This dish is a curry type meat stew made with vegetables, oxtail, and a peanut-based sauce.


If you enjoy soups, you will have to try this. It is made with pork, guava, green mango, cabbage, tomatoes, garlic, calamansi, and onions. There are many variations with sinigang, but this is the most common.

Sio Pao

This is a steamed hot bun filled with chicken, pork or beef. You may find them prepared with shrimp or salted duck egg. Sio Pao is made with a savory sauce with a hint of sweetness and is found throughout Manila. This can be served with food, as a snack or quick lunch.

Desserts, Snacks, Delicacies

In most of the desserts, you will find they are made with coconut milk or shredded coconuts, sticky sweet rice, jackfruit, mango, or rice flour(mochi). Here you will find the desserts, snacks, and delicacies that are a must to try!

Halo-halo- This is the most popular dessert you will find in Manila. It consists of shaved ice, jackfruit, evaporated or condensed milk, chickpeas, lychee, mango, coconut flakes blended and served in a tall glass. Think of it as a cross between a Slurpee and milkshake with everything mixed.

Turon- This is another favorite if you have a sweet tooth. It is a caramelized banana with sugar wrapped in lumpia wrapper and deep-fried until it is golden brown.

Bibingka- It can be made with either sweet rice(sticky rice), or sweet rice flour, sugar, and coconut milk. You may also find pieces of jackfruit or banana mixed in. Sometimes the street vendors will wrap this delicious dessert in banana leaves to keep it well-formed.

Balut and Kwek Kwek- These are considered infamous common delicacies that you can find from practically any Filipino street vendor. These two foods made the list of foods to try in Manila because anytime you mention you have been to the Philippines, people always ask if you tried these two foods. Not for the squeamish!

Balut is a duck embryo (boiled duck egg) eaten with a spoon with vinegar, salt or chili. Be warned, you may find yourself munching on partially formed duck parts-like bones, feathers, or even eyeballs. Kwek Kwek is a deep-fried quail egg in an orange batter resembling a corn dog. It is seasoned with vinegar, chili and onions.


These foods can be found anywhere you go while visiting Manila, whether it’s a sit-down restaurant or a street vendor. These are popular foods to try in Manila when visiting the Philippines. These foods can be consumed as a snack or main dish. So, when you take a trip to the Manila, make sure to try at least a couple of the items mentioned here, you won’t be disappointed.


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