If there’s one thing you’ll want to add to your bucket list in your Philippine adventure, it’s definitely the street food. After all, when in the Philippines, act like a Filipino. Sure, restaurants can provide the finer side of Filipino cuisine but there’s just something more authentic about street food. It’s an adventure in itself that you taste with your tongue. Not only will you get to try something new, but you can also save a lot of money. These are the common delicacies on the street enjoyed by both locals and foreigners alike. Insider tip: If you’re doubting the sanitation of a certain dish, look out for food carts based near schools because these are usually clean as they cater to students.
Arguably the most notorious treat on the Philippine trip bucketlist, surely almost anyone who’s been to or plans to visit the Philippines knows what this is. It’s a fertilized duck egg that is eaten with some salt. Your options vary in terms of the age of the duck embryo although a popular choice is the 16 week old egg. The feedback for the balut is generally mixed, but this is the very food that makes you say that you really did visit the Philippines.
You’ll probably hear this word being shouted out a lot in the streets from a man carrying a large metal cylinder. This is bean curd combined with syrup and tapioca and occasionally, condensed milk; think of it as sweet soft tofu. High-end restaurants may sell this delicacy but the street counterpart will always taste better and will definitely be cheaper. For a full-size cup of about 12 ounces, you’ll normally only pay about PHP 20-30! This is a definite must-try especially for sweet tooths that just want something soft and a little warm.
Kwek-kwek, fish balls, tempura
These three are normally sold together on a food truck and with a lot of people queuing to get their share. “Kwek-kwek” or battered quail egg can be noted as an orange ball while squid balls and tempura are seafood with extenders. One serving of each usually includes 4 pieces and costs about PHP 20. They are normally deep-fried then are either skewered or placed in a cup. Most vendors offer free add ons like cucumbers and seaweed. Then you can choose whether you want to add sweet sauce or sweet and spicy sauce. A great choice for a savory afternoon snack after school or work.
“Pungko” means to squat and although you don’t necessarily squat here, it’s a small stall with a wide range of fried food like ginabot (pork crackling made from pig intestines), lumpia, fried chicken, and sausage served with puso (hanging rice) and sawsawan (dipping sauce; usually vinegar and soy sauce with some chilis). Barbeque places are similar with all different kinds of barbequed meat like pork, chicken, liver, gizzard and isaw (chicken intestines).
Usually, it’s an open-air restaurant with many people coming in and out. From a distance, you can already smell the frying or grilling and it’s really good. You can order a variety of meat with rice without having to break the bank. The locals usually go here during lunch breaks or after work hours for a super casual and chill meal.
Pronounced as “prow-ben”, this deep-fried delicacy is the chicken’s proventriculus (a gland near the gizzard and liver) dipped in cornstarch. This shows that every part of the chicken can be eaten! It’s a cheap replacement for your fried chicken cravings often costing PHP30 or less and some vendors even throw in some fried chicken skin too! You can even smell it from far away and imagine how crispy it’ll be. Pair it up with some sauce and puso (hanging rice) and you can call it a snack or even a light meal for the day.
The Philippines has way too many bananas so with that, they make these three variants of fried bananas. Bananaques (banana + barbeque) are bananas placed on a stick, coated in sugar then deep fried. “Maruyas or pinaypays” are covered in flour and cornstarch, deep fried then coated in sugar. Turons are wrapped in a lumpia wrapper (occasionally with jackfruit), deep fried then coated with sugar. These twists on bananas are cheap, sweet ways to get your daily potassium and cost less than PHP 25! So if you love bananas, these snacks will definitely make you love them more.
A medical student who is passionate about writing and loves to travel in her free time.