I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Street Food Again!

Many said:

You will love Filipino food for sure

There is nothing better than seafood in the Philippines

Filipinos are proud of their very own local dishes

Sorry guys for disappointing you, but it is not true in our opinion.

Hungry and unhappy girl
My “I’m starving but I don’t want to eat this food” face

Our Food Travels

You all should know by now that we are both food lovers and new flavour hunters. Every single trip, whether we discover new places inside or outside China, is related in some way to food.

Before flying off for a new adventure to a new country, we do a proper research into new cuisines trying to find out which dishes we should avoid and which one can’t be missed out.

So far, we enjoyed Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Khmer cuisines the most, whereas Sri Lankan dishes (although they were incredibly cheap and accessible) were not our favorite. Unfortunately, with tears in my eyes and broken heart, we must add Filipino street cuisine to our “I would rather go hungry than eat this food again” list.

Why? Here comes a long list… but before that let’s see what Filipino food is (should be) all about.

A few words about Filipino street cuisine

It is possible that not many have heard of Filipino street food before. We all know what Thai and Vietnamese, Japanese or even Polish cuisine is all about, before even traveling to these countries. As for the food in the Philippines, due to the small number of restaurants available abroad, we are still not familiar with Filipino dishes.

Grilled fish
Grilled (burnt) fish I was served in Manila one evening

It is commonly believed that Filipino food has also been defined by a melting pot of influences, springing from the Spaniards who colonized the Philippines for nearly four centuries to the Chinese settlers.

The Filipino cuisine embraces all the common elements of Asian cuisine – sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Ingredients commonly used include garlic, vinegar and soy sauce, all of which are used in chicken adobo – easily one of the most recognizable Filipino dishes.

Chicken and sauerkraut
A piece of grilled chicken served with sliced carrot and sauerkraut in the streets of Cabu- that was yummy

We have also read that Filipino meals range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate paellas created for fiestas or even lasagna of Italian origin.

Top 5 famous Filipino dishes are lechon (roasted pig), longganisa (the local sausage), torta (omelette) and adobo (chicken served with soy sauce).

Moreover, while other Asian cuisines may be known for a more subtle delivery and presentation, Filipino cuisine is often delivered all at once in a single presentation (we have not experienced it at all though).

Expectations vs. Reality

What we hoped to experience…

Before coming to the Philippines, we have found CNN Travel’s list of 50 Filipino foods that define the Philippines featuring such dishes as:

  •  Adobo – chicken and pork cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and other spices.
  • Lechon – roasted pig with the crisp, golden-brown skin served with liver sauce.
  • Kare-kare – stew of oxtail served with delicious sauce made from ground toasted rice and crushed peanuts and presented with some banana blossom, eggplants and string beans.
Beef soup with potatoes served in Banaue
Adobo

We also hoped to try some fresh exotic fruits and veggies, grilled seafood, smoked meat and fishplenty of balut (developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell), local soups, different kind of rice (red and yellow), kind of dim sum and dumplings, sticky rice and a great composition of herbs and spices.

What we have experienced…

Let me start from telling you that for the first few days we gave the local food a go. We were open to new things, we were willing to eat anything locals gave us and we were so curious about new dishes. That has changed after 4 days of stomachache, dizziness and feeling overtired and bloated.

Never travel without Medical Travel insurance. It’s not that expensive and a lot cheaper than paying for travel emergencies out of your own pocket.

Sweet curry served with rice in Banaue
Sweet curry served with rice in Banaue

The fruits we bought at local markets daily looked and tasted old and gross. Bananas (they changed color into black) were the worst (you could see some flies flying around and sitting on the bunch of them). Apples were tiny, oranges and nectarines were extremely sour and pineapples were soaked in some kind of liquid that smelled bad. The only good fruits available there were sour mangoes sold with pepper and sugar as well as watermelons.

Local market in Banaue
Local market in Banaue

As for the veggies from local markets, we didn’t try them at all (apart from buying some at the supermarket) because we were not able to cook them. They looked ok though.

Random street restaurants
Random street restaurants

What shocked us the most was the poor quality of food. Most of dishes were left on the table without being covered with a lid, or without a fan to get rid of the flies, as it’s a common practice in other Asian countries. Fish and meat were mixed up together in the same bowl, sausages were displayed on a plate surrounded by flies and bugs, everyone was touching food with their fingers to try before buying and what was the worst the food was left on display for all night long and didn’t disappear from there unless someone bought it (we saw the same fish dish on display for two days in a row in one of local restaurants in Manila). It was a big mess, trust me!

Veggies in the philippines
Ready to go veggies from local market. They were packed with some noodles.

The Filipino food is packed with salt, sugar and oil. The meat we were served was soaking in oil, the fish that supposed to be grilled was full of oil and veggies we wanted to try contained more oil than the fattest meat we saw there. As we know, oil makes you feel so tired and slows your metabolism down. After having a few small Filipino lunches, we felt bloated and tired and we could tell it was the food.

A giant deep fried dumpling filled with mince and egg
A giant deep fried dumpling filled with mince and egg
Filipino food
The way it was made

We not only started feeling fat (literally), but also suffered from stomachache and diarrhea. I had a massive migraine, mood swings and heartbum caused by spicy and oily pork.

Locals enjoying their lunch in Manila
Locals enjoying their lunch in Manila

No wonder why, in the north, the vast majority of Filipino kids and young people are overweight. This is something we have noticed straight away. People in young age are huge and it’s due to poor quality of food.

Filipino supermarket
For week 2 we were buying the food in local supermarkets. We paid much more, but we knew the food was fresh and healthy.

Prices

The Filipino food was extremely cheap though. Coffee was $0.22, bread was for less than $0.5 and meal dishes were never more than $1 (including rice). That was the biggest advantage of dining out in local places. On the other hand, if you wanted to eat something healthy and more Western (brown bread, brown rice, cooked veggies, yogurt, grilled or steamed fish, oatmeal, dried fruits, etc.) you had to pay a lot of money (more than you would pay in your own country).

Local coffee machine in the Philippines
Local coffee machine

Love for sugar

Filipinos, unlike Chinese, seem to love bread, cakes, pastries, muffins, buns and everything that contains a lot of sugar. So do we, but we must say some of them were way too sweet even for chocolate monsters like us.

Local pastries, cookies and donuts
Local pastries, cookies and donuts in Cebu

We found it so similar to Sri Lanka. The streets are full of local bakeries open 24/7 and you can see locals buying tones of donuts and cookies. They are extremely cheap and you could get  like 3 for a price of 1. All displays looked so tempting and you could smell the fresh bread everywhere.

Yummy Apple and raisin roll cakes
Yummy Apple and raisin roll cakes

Biggest disappointments

The biggest disappointment was not trying traditional Filipino dishes. Why? We simply could not find them! We visited enormous amount of local food stands and restaurants asking for balut, adobo, asado, daing and more and we we have heard was “Not here. We have some fish and fried pork only.”, “Do you want to try noodles instead?”, “We have some boiled eggs”. So, so disappointing!

Trying some local dishes in Cebu supermarket
Trying some local dishes in Cebu supermarket

All we managed to eat was binignit ( Visayan vegetable soup made by Visayans with slices of sabá bananas, taro, and sweet potato), bihon (rice noodles fried with soy sauce some citrus) and lomi (Filipino-Chinese dish made with a variety of thick fresh egg noodles). These were yummy and we recommend them all to everyone.

"Fresh" Filipino style pineapple juice - 3/4 of water and 1/4 of pineapple juice from the box
“Fresh” Filipino style pineapple juice – 3/4 of water and 1/4 of pineapple juice from the box

Haggling

After a few minutes in Manila, we knew foreigners were expected to pay more than locals. When it came to food prices, there was no haggling involved. Most of prices in supermarkets and local stored were fixed so there was no need to bargain. As for local markets, we were ripped off a few times, but it was still cheap so we did not mind it that much.

Conclusion

Based on our experience, Filipino street food did not live up to our expectations at all.  Let’s hope we can make it there again in the future and have more luck!

Still this is just our opinion and you can make up your own mind by flying to the Philippines yourself. Check out the flight prices and you may find it’s cheaper to go than you think.

Are you a fan of Filipino street food? What was your experience with the local food there?

2020 Update

Note from Cez

Agness wrote this article in 2014 just after we returned from our trip to the Philippines. This part is our update in 2020 while the rest of the article remains unchanged.

If You’re Triggered/Offended

It has never been our goal to offend anyone, and this is our personal opinion/experience. Yet, many people took it as a personal attack. If you’re one of those people, there are a few ways to vent your anger/excess energy. You can:

  • Insult us. It’s not going to change our past experience but may influence what we think of you. While it’s the option that most people choose, it’s the most negative and least impactful one.
  • Provide constructive feedback/criticism. Big thanks to all those who decided to do this. We appreciate your constructive comments and take your words to heart. We received many invites to try your cooking. While, at the moment, it’s unlikely we will visit the Philippines again, you can share your advice/recipes with readers of Etramping by contributing an article.
  • Improve the situation in the Philippines by donating to a charity. Best option of all. Many of you recognized a deeper problem and how disadvantaged some poor people are in the Philippines. If you can read this, you’re probably in a position to help out. Consider supporting a charity that aims to get poor people out of poverty, especially children in the Filipino slums.
    We are not associated with Oikos Helping Hand in any way but personally know someone who visited them and has seen their work in the Philippines.

If You’re a Foreigner

The Philippines is a beautiful country with very passionate people (you can see it in the comments section). It’s one of those countries that we recommend everyone to visit and experience for themselves!

We have created a very comprehensive one week itinerary to the Philippines which would help you explore some of the best parts of this country comfortably and in a short time.

As to the food, regardless of our opinion/experience, you should try it for yourself. Just be careful with the hygiene – just as you would anywhere else.

End of Update

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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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825 thoughts on “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Street Food Again!”

  1. Wow, thanks for such an honest assessment! In many cases one expects that travel blogs only give positive reviews of restaurants and hotels, so it is great to read something that provides a true picture of what was experienced, even if it was not enjoyed.

    I made a very short visit to Manila, but it was work-related and I never had a chance to go out on the street and try local food. Maybe, that is why I only have fond memories of the trip.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Ellis,

      Long time so see. I’m glad you liked the post. It’s nothing but honestly here. Work-related trip in the Philippines? Oh, I see. I guess you din’t try many local dishes. Maybe next time.

      1. I am from France and we love taste and food quality and yes Indonesian food are the best of Asia and then real Chinese food (not Chinese food in Europe tho) Thai viet and malAysian, I don’t want to say Singapore cos that Place is like little bAby of Indonesia and Malaysia so yes their food is the same I mean. Excellent.

        Filipino food to be honest I don’t find Anything interesting, I don’t even know what is their traditional house look like and clothes before Spanish and no tamples like other Asian countries. People suggest this and that but I tried it all but I’m just not a fan of any food in the Philippines, but the people are the best they are fun!!

      1. I have been staying here in Philippines almost 10 years, please tell me where can i find tons of Ph food. Or you just kidding me. hahaha

      2. Haha.exactly.look like this travelers is concentrating only in the streets food around the country.to each on their own.im a Filipino but I live here in the state.there are a number of American dishes that i dont like too.they are not that healthy .

      3. Haha you kidding me. I have tons of Filipino friends they’re fun but eh I don’t like their food. As a cook I can tell food cuisine is not Filipino strength at all.

    2. You should have went to “Kuya J” restaurant. Quite expensive but worth it. I’m filipino and I couldn’t agree more of this! I couldn’t wait to go back to Thailand especially Chiang Mai. I missed proper healthy food. Since got back here in Philippines I always feel bloated & fat! Most food are always oily! Also it’s hard to buy fresh fruit and veges since it gets expensive unlike in Thailand. God I missed that country. Thanks for noticing the increasing obesity, I’m glad I’m not the only one who notice that since most here don’t give much importance to it. This country will be like murica soon.

      Great post! Agree with everything. Keep it up!!!

      1. Maybe you are going to the wrong places for food. Only poor folks eat street food, I would never touch it anyplace in the world. Have you been to Makati, Greenhills, Quezon City……..rows and rows of restaurants, all kinds of cuisines not just Filipino food. I’m here in California and I don’t patronize the Filipino restaurants here due to poor quality. There is a misconception when the blogger says “where the locals eat”. Depends on the locals you are talking about, the poor locals or the educated class of locals. You can’t eat good quality food for $25 a day and I hope it’s just for 1 person, not the two of you. You have to allot at least $40 per person and don’t dirty looking restaurants because food is cheap, remember you get what you pay for. In any case, I do believe that the title of this article is rude and condescending. I’ve been to Poland and the food is not what you find in Paris or even Spain but I would not write an article saying insulting the cuisine of Poland. You just went to the wrong places due perhaps to inadequate funds.

      2. KAHLIL A CALVO

        Stay away from street foods…esp if u r not a native of the Philippines….for health issues….There are so many places to eat…just check aound or goodle them…

      3. Authentic filipino foods can be found in provinces. Every province has a culture and foods. Try to visit on Fiesta’s then you experience the tasty foods of the locals.

      4. You don’t need to spend much to try authentic Filipino food if you know where to go. Mang Inasal is an authentic Filipino food for only $2.50 (grilled chicken breast with rice cooked the Filipino way). And there are also carenderias that will cook Filipino breakfast (silogs family of food) upon order. And this usually cost less than $2. And if you want freshly made cheap food eat outside hospitals and schools. Grilled food (i.e. pork inasal, isaw or pork/chicken intestines, adidas or chicken feet, betamax or cubed pork blood, etc.) along streets are also clean since it will be cooked while you wait. Seafood and oysters are pretty cheap in coastal areas. A dollar will get you more than 10 huge oysters.

        Exotic Filipino food (i.e. tamiluk-live wood worms, crickets, beetle larvae, stuffed frog, ant eggs, grasshoppers, crocodile meat, snake meat, etc) are hard to get though. Except maybe for some like balut (egg with embryo), fried day old chicks, dinuguan (blood stew) and papaitan (pork innards cooked in bile). Which are served in some carenderias and restaurants.

        Common Filipino food are mostly Spanish influence (i.e. pan de sal, lechon, arroz caldo, callos, valenciana, paella, adobo, puchero, afritada, mechado, etc). And some Chinese influence (noodles, dimsums-siopao, siomai, kekiam, etc). And every provinces have its own traditional food that can only be found in those areas.

    3. I think you didnt actually research deeper upon traveling here….You dont have any idea what you are doing…there are a lot of places to eat where it is much safer and cleaner…also, you have no idea what society phillipines are made of…there are places for people who cant afford to buy good foods and I bet thats the place you visit…FYI there are thousand island here in the philippines and youve only been in one place…how can you generalized that all filipino foods are like that??? its like labeling muslim a terrorist and thats make all innosent muslims terrorist. Maybe you want to consider traveling here in iloilo…I can be your tourist guide… Ill show you how great philippines can be…

      1. Why don´t your country try to work out their problems instead of tell everbody that their are wrong to notice? This is a serious question. Please, don´t take to the heart.

        There are a lot of more important things in life than just “keep the face”.

      2. Filipino cuisine has a bad reputation, come here already many years and it is the lowest level u can imagine, pilipino reactions are very nationalistic, they will not admit anything bad in their country, i talked to many foreigners, short and longterm visitors even living here and they all say the same, food is only bad in Philippines, look how much sugar(diabetics) and salt(hypertension) they use, and then the surplus of oil , oil used many times brrrrrrrr. if U ask a pilipino what is the best restaurant in philippines then the mayority will tell you “jollibee” can U imagine, the wordt of the junkchains like chowking, macdonald and others….

    4. Well ithink you visit a carinderia place means a smallest resto for barangay.. rural areas.

      You should visit famous restaurant in Philippines its a big country btw..visit a city not only a small area..

      ?good luck for the next visit.

    5. I bet that you went to the wrong place. Explore the north side or south side but not NCR. North side of Philippines like Vigan, south side like Cebu all the way to Zamboanga and you will see every regions have different style and specialties. If you eat street food in Manila better bring your medicine. Some street food use there oils as long as they can. They call it “retoke” or just warm it up. Example, if you the store don’t sell all the 1st cook, it will be recook but that’s the reality. Also, watch we’re you go and what you eat. It’s better to eat balut at least that one it’s natural and you will know easily if it was cook on the same day.

    6. I am a Filipino and hails from the culinary capital of of our country. Reading from what you have seen and experienced, it does not represent “Filipino Food” so please do not generalise. Try other areas like Pampanga.

      1. I was born in Manila and in my late 40s. My childhood was spent between Marikina and Cavite. I travel a lot for work since my first job after graduating college. My exposure to other cuisines has a very wide range from European, African, Mediterranean, North American, South American, and Asian. So, with that being said, Filipino food in general is terrible. It tastes mostly bad, smells bad, and looks ugly. It doesn’t matter where you go, it is mostly unappealing! I would rather eat Thai, Vietnamese, Khmer, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, or Indian food first. FYI, Pampanga is NOT the culinary capital of the Philippines. It is like stating that Lyon is the culinary capital of France, or Bologna is the culinary capital of Italy. NO city or town is the “culinary capital” of any country. Pampanga got that distinction because of a blogger. If you reduce a country’s cuisine to one small area and ignore the contributions of other parts of a country, then you are limiting the range of that country’s cuisine.

  2. I guess you went to the wrong places while you were here in the Philippines. You should’ve visited famous Filipino restaurants like Barrio Fiesta and Cabalen instead of the small local food stalls in Banaue, because they really don’t live up to our expectations as well (I’m a Filipino, btw).

    Give our country another chance and visit us again. Next time though, go to places like Manila and Cebu.

      1. sorry about your experience. i’m from the philippines and i believe you were ripped off by your guide. we’ve had several foreign guests and some foreign friends who now live here in manila and so far as i know they love the food. i don’t take offense with what you wrote simple because you were writing based on your (bad) experience. hopefully you will give the philippines another try and maybe you’ll get to be invited to a filipino home and served a true filipino home cooked meal. :) i was aghast by the breakfast picture you posted. even i wouldn’t eat something like that. having said that, filipino breakfast varies from province to province. do give our country another try, and maybe take up the invitation of one of the people who commented on your post and stay with them while you are here. hope you visit again and not let that one bad experience prevent you from giving filipino food another try. cheers!

      2. Then come into our house on your next visit in the Philippines, I’ll erase your bad impression about Filipino Foods. You went into wrong places my dear, you should’ve googled first the places where our foods are properly serve. Not all locals serve it presentably and how the CNN reported it. They are right, filipino foods are best served at home and in some not-so-expensive Restaurants all over the Metro. Where you’ve been are the places where the foods are okay with the locals because that’s what they could only afford. I bet you are aware that we’ve got homeless and poor people in our Country.

        Also, too bad for you because from the look of what you called “longganisa”, you went to “7-eleven” store (which actually originated in the U.S.) and gave you the sausage sandwich instead. That’s not longganisa looks like my dear, and fyi, we’ve got longganisa varieties. You should’ve researched more, you’re a traveler. :D

      3. Sorry to hear about your experience. I think you looked at the wrong places.

        My husband is a foreigner and he loves our food. Eateries that you find on the streets are not “restaurants”. There are many decent restaurants you can find in the malls and other areas of manila with choices from ala carte to buffet where you may have to pay about $10 a meal. I think you’ve been too harsh about your opinion of our food. If you did a good research of where it is good to eat, there are tons of restaurants everywhere you are (if you really did a research, I have a thought that you only researched what you should not eat).

        Ask locals first for recommendation. Filipinos love to eat and no one else will know where the best eats are but the “locals”.

        About the breakfast, it depends where you stayed. Did you stay in a hotel? Or did you stay in a cheap hostel or holiday let? Yes we filipinos have a very different appetite when it comes to breakfast but what you were served was not breakfast. If you stayed in a decent hotel, you will find a huge variety of things to eat from rice dishes to different breads, fruits, congee, and a lot more. We are also Americanized so you will always find continental options. Again, you are at the wrong place.

      4. I have not been to Philippines yet, but thank you for the warning. All in all, I am afraid to eat in south-eastern countries, but I must admit that food in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, was off the charts, and cheap as on a street as in restaurants.

      5. Are you aware that many Westerners now retire in the Philippines? My husband is an American lawyer and he loves Filipino cuisine but he knows his way around because he’s been going to the Philippines for years before I met him. He enjoys the food, the beaches and the hospitality of the Filipinos. I’m sorry for your bad experience but you went to the wrong places, these were for local consumption of mostly poor Filipinos. We live part-time in Makati and the rest in Los Angeles, CA. If there’s a next time, try to go to better places in the city or upscale restaurants in the provinces. Have you tried the restaurant in the Mega Malls? They have authentic Filipino food in a clean setting, lunch would cost you about $12-15 including drink and dessert. We travel a lot also and won’t go to poor areas of the country we’re visiting.

      6. “No, you didn’t go to the eight places and try the good stuff. Your experience is invalid.”

        Right, she should not trust her own eyes and tongue, she should trust just your opinion or the opinion of some local that have all reasons to lie.

        There is notthing wrong with different opinions but at very least make sure that you have a valid argument.

      7. Actually, the prices of dishes at the ordinary restaurants are not cheap at all compared to other Asian countries, especially in terms of portion and quality.

      8. Give Philippines a second chance… tell me when you’re coming back and I am willing to show you the real, authentic Filipino food. The places you have mentioned are really not where all the locals go… I am Filipino buy I would not buy food from the places you’ve been to.

        The breakfast that you’ve said that was served to you, is not the actually a Filipino breakfast. The fruits that you showed? I would not even taste it, in fact I would even return it right away.

  3. Sarah Shumate

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience eating in the Philippines. I know how important that part of traveling is because it’s one of our top favorite things to do, too. You can learn so much about a country’s culture by the foods they eat and the rituals they have surrounding mealtime.

    I’m interested to see the other comments you get – I’m curious to see if everyone else agrees. I’ve never been to the Philippines, but that option is one that may come up for us in a few years when we’ve completed our contract in London.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Totally agree. Some people agree and had pretty the same experience, so people loved the food! 50:50 here :)

    2. No wonder why she just went to low class resto. We must understand that she is living in a $25 / day… What a joke…

    3. hi. I enjoyed reading your blog. I’m Filipino and felt your pain. I applaude your bravery for trying stall foods, I myself would not touch these things. And street foods are not a representation of what we usually serve at our own table. Same things here in the streets of New York City, will not eat in any of the st. vendors bec of sanitary issues. If I don’t see vendors washing their hands. Surprised you enjoyed stall foods of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, we buy from the local markets and have some one prepare for us, more expense but not thinking @ the what ifs. Some of the comments said you should have researched more, they are right. There are regional/ provincial differences. Some region cook better than others. Banawe is a different story, while the rice terraces are beautiful I don’t think much of the food up in the mountains. Typically locals would boil their meat and vegetables. No frills. Also for fruits and veges look for these in season. I don’t touch apple or oranges unless they are locally produced.Just got back from Phil 2days ago, fast foods shop abound, foods are either too salty or too sweet or fat ladden. But can’t say that Filipino foods are all that either.

      1. Just one example. Regarding TH, read below.

        https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293915-i3686-k8196940-How_likely_is_food_poisoning_in_Thailand-Thailand.html

        BTW I’m not surprise for your attitude. Street food in PH is among the worst in hygiene. They usually sell leftover food and people have no choice sine their main target group is the poor so they don’t have much choices. But that’s not the case of any country/city with strong street food culture. Not just TH but HK, TW, etc. Their targets are everybody, plus there are lots of competitors. There are tons of choices for customers. If you did any big mistake just once, be prepared to pack all your stuffs and look for other careers.

  4. It sounds like a real disappointment for you guys. I wonder if the location/city you were in was a factor? Is the food more regionalised like in China, so maybe you’d find those sought after dishes elsewhere?

    The food hygiene standards sound very poor. The supermarket certainly sounds like the way to go.

    Sorry to hear that you were ill. Did you mean heartburn as opposed to heartbum?

    As for the breakfast, it seems quite similar to my breakfast this morning here in Norway. Lots of fruit which I suppose is quite healthy plus breads (which I should really avoid).

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, it was very disappointing, indeed. We got used to fresh and good quality food in China. The food hygiene in the Philippines was very poor. Words can’t describe how bad some local food restaurants and stalls looked! :(

      1. I’m sorry to hear that you had a not too stellar experience. I see your blog has generated so much energy, so that’s good for you. I wonder if traffic was a motivation for this blog entry?

        I’m surprised you actually went to eat food from the stalls, kudos to your adventurous side. I lived in Manila but would never try that.

        Your guide failed to live up to the task at hand, which obviously enough was to take you to the good area worth visiting, afterall great experiences make clients come back.

        I gather you have travelled a lot, I’m a little amused by your misadventure and honesty, however, your blog in my humble opinion is misrepresented and magnified by your inept guide.

        Good luck, better planning and networking on your next trip.

      2. how many areas in china did you visit that made you experience fresh and good quality foods? and how many areas in the philippines did you visit for you to say you would rather die than eat foods here. honestly, I don’t patronize street foods here because i’m unsure of its hygiene which every locals know already and many of them just have to live and eat. I wonder why you stopped hunting what you’re looking for like the balut,adobo,lechon and kare-kare. Makes me think you came here not to look for good things but you intentionally look for places that could satisfy your mind set that filipino’s are not capable of serving clean foods. we accept criticisms but your blog comes with an insult and i know you know that you intend to do.

      3. Actually thats not our traditiona breakfast …you should scan first in the internet in where u can find filipino breakfast meals. Because i think they just give u whats available in the table?

  5. Savi of Bruised Passports

    I hear you. Vid and I didn’t enjoy food in Vietnam as much as we thought we would. But the fresh fruits and vegetables were spectacular. I wonder if there are others who’ve had similar experiences in Philippines?

  6. It’s such a shame that food from the Philippines didn’t satisfy you, because there are some great dishes out there! I have a lot of Filipino friends in London who helped me in what direction to look for good food. I spent a lot of time eating around my travels in the Philippines, and although it may not be as appealing as Thai, or Japanese, there are certainly some amazing dishes; adobe, sinigang, lechon. The markets and hygiene really doesn’t sound great even in Asian standards, though. I hope one day you go back and find a lot of luck with good food.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Once I’m back in Europe, I’ll try some Filipino dishes recommended by my Filipino friends, but I know it’s not going to authentic.

      1. lol at this point, there’s no such thing as authentic anymore. I’m a Filipino and I can say that I’m not fond of eating Filipino foods anymore. but its not because they taste good but because I grew tired of it. To make things more interesting for us, we then add different things to it or maybe cook it differently. that doesn’t mean that its not authentic anymore. and besides Filipino foods are basically spanish food that were cooked differently to cater to the Filipino pallet.

        it is sad though that you weren’t able to experience the best food we have and The Filipinos that are commenting badly are just full of pride. we’re not the best basketball and we don’t have the greatest government. in a way your blog just hit us where we actually found pride in our country–our food. I totally understand where you’re coming from. there will always be those people who just didn’t like it. period. but i didn’t also like your title. it misleads other travelers who would want to get a taste of our food and culture. you’re basically robbing us of tourists instead of letting them find out for themselves. so thats just basically it. just one last thing i guess. KNOW WHERE TO EAT! not just disgusting canteens! There’s a long street near my school where its full of local restaurants that definitely show authenticity of culture (since that what seems to be your main point)

      2. Honey, I was just wondering how you’d know it’s not going to be authentic if you haven’t really experienced much of the authentic Filipino food? Street food is NOT ALWAYS authentic Filipino food as they are viands prepared for mostly laborers, drivers, workers on a tight budget. Thus, ingredients there are scrimped. Simple logic: cheap = substandard. As a LOCAL, with many other locals commenting here, dishes served along sidewalks are DIRTY. Most dishes served under a small budget is EITHER dirty or unhealthy. Same principle when you eat at McDonald’s. You can’t expect to be fed healthy dishes. They just fill you up on a budget. That’s what happened to you guys. Look at the fruits you got, quite substandard. If you only knew where to get good ones. By the way, apples and oranges are not grown in the Philippines. They cannot simply survive the weather. They are mostly from

        Frankly, there are restaurants that are not too pricy and serve great authentic Filipino dishes. In this blog, you exude a persona that you are a bonafide traveller. However, a bonafide traveler MUST KNOW WHERE TO GO. Sure you went to local restaurants, plenty of different ones. The WRONG ones.

        You stated that “The food hygiene in the Philippines was very poor. Words can’t describe how bad some local food restaurants and stalls looked.” WHY STILL EAT THERE???

        True, you have the right to write about your bad experiences. Hell, you could even post the name or picture of the stalls that were unhygienic so we could actually avoid them or even file a complaint to the necessary governing body, but YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO OVERGENERALIZE and say they’re all bad by saying “rather go hungry than eat Filipino food again when you hardly experienced authentic Filipino food at all.

      3. Hi Agnes,

        I wish I can let you try filipino food because I know that you missed it the moment you visited my country. However I do agree that the food can be quite fatty because we love that. I also agree that the food in other asian countries can be a better option in quality and being healthy. Hence I would love to travel to Thailand and Vietnam.

        But, if so happens, that we meet our you meet Filipino people in Europe, I hope you get invited at their house so you can try Filipino food. Homecooked meals are always the safest, the cleanest and the best option, not the street food. I know we cannot come at parr with the Thai street food scene, another reason why I want to visit that country. But take my advice, it in a filipino restaurant while you are in Europe. If by chance you live in London, I can recommend you some places. They taste as authentic and good value for money.

        Visit Philippines again and go with a Filipino friend so you can visit their hometown and have a feel of Filipino life.

  7. To be honest you cant really have the real filipino cuisine if you are looking in cheap cateens/karinderia. You can see it in some expensive restaurants now a days. Also i belive the place you went also affect. Theres less nice foods in there. You should ask google first next time to avoid that kind of experience. There are much better foods somewhere south. Especially in PAMPANGA. Iam truly sorry from what you guys experience. I hope you’ll still come back because there are lot more places here in philippines that is worth to go, cheers!

    1. well said! mabuhay! :)) they were just in the wrong place that’s all. i just don’t get it why they keep generalizing and judging us just coz of that awful trip. :(

      1. Agness Walewinder

        We visited all possible local food stands, stalls and small restaurants. There were all the same, sorry!

      2. @Keith,
        This is just food for God sake. It was not to offend your people. This is the kind of complain that we expect from children.

    2. Agness Walewinder

      Unfortunately, I can’t agree with you Ann. In my opinion, eating at food stalls, streets etc is more typical and more show of an embedded culture than going to a restaurant. Personally restaurants elaborate dishes that are not always typical or what your everyday person eats.

      1. Speaking of #StreetFoods…
        Have you my dear tried kwek-kwek, tukneneng, squidballs, chickenballs, siomai, isaw, betamax, and adidas? those are just the basic…not to mention BALUT — which was by the way featured in Fear Factor in an episode for challenging their stomachs…. *yum-yum…

        And if not, they you better come back and try them… then, make a follow-up on this blog.. ;)

      2. Tons of posts from Filipinos here have already said that you can’t experience our authentic food from cheap food stalls and the streets and yet you still disagree? You still think that these places are “more typical”?

        If you think your opinion on where to experience authentic dishes is the only opinion that is valid, then you already have failed to embrace the core of traveling to experience another culture.

        I do appreciate the fact that you are being honest but I guess you also have to look at the perspective that you may have not researched properly. A restaurant does not have to be too posh, you know. There are tons of Filipino restaurants that would definitely be within your budget. Google can be a friend on instances like these :)

      3. Most of the local middle class in the Philippines don’t usually go to the local food stalls or “restaurants” in the neighborhood. If we want to eat out, we go to a restaurant at the mall. We have restos that serve dishes the way it’s traditionally or supposed to be prepared. Street food is very unhygienic and low-quality. They need to prepare several dishes everyday in the lowest cost possible so that they can turn up some profit. So they usually cut corners. I do not want to sound demeaning, but carinderias or the places you went to for food sound like the ones where the less-fortunate locals get food. If my mom wasn’t able to cook breakfast, lunch, or dinner for us, we would rather go to Jollibee, Red Ribbon, or the usual fast food places than buy food from the neighborhood food stall. The breakfast you were served was just atrocious. Filipino breakfast is typically a “silog,” which is fried rice and fried egg with either longganisa, tapa, etc., That’s how it was at home anyway. I grew up in Manila and the only street food I will eat are the bbq-types, and maybe also the street food littered around my university because my alma mater is quite well-known for that. I hope you’ll try it out again and have better luck! I always look forward to going back to the Philippines for better Filipino food compared to what I get here in the US.

  8. Zara @ Backpack ME

    Oh guys.. this sucks, but at least it makes for an entertaining article!
    Most travel blogs are always raving about some thing or the other. It almost feels refreshing to come across something a little less positive every now and then! (just looking at the bright side here) :P

    I used to work with a girl from the Philippines who would every single day bring home cooked food to eat at the office. I never tried any of her dishes as such but I can tell you that the smell that would linger in the office after she used the microwave would not be very appetizing. So fishy and so strong!

    Still, I am sure that there is great food in the Philippines.. but it might not be as readily available or recognizable as elsewhere. Living in China you guys are probably spoiled with great choices all the time!!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Fishy and strong? I love fish! :D I am also sure there is some great food here, it’s just way too expensive and available in posh restaurants only. That’s a big shame!

      1. Hi Ageness, I’m an American expat who has lived in Manila 4 years, with one of those years living in a low-income community. I wanted to respond to some of the things you said in the comments section of this article. But first, kudos for reading every single comment that comes in. That’s very good of you.

        You mention that you went to these places because you wanted to go where “locals” go. But you seem to define “locals” as poor people. Filipinos that ride around in chauferred BMWs are locals too. Most Filipinos that can afford not to eat low-cost street food (which comprises about half the country) will generally stay away from it, in the same way that an American making $80,000 a year probably doesn’t order off the McDonald’s dollar menu too much (or ever). Everybody knows it is generally dirty and unhealthy. Since you’re on a $25 a day budget, I’d recommend you check out a restaurant chain called Buddy’s Pancit Lucban. Their entrees range from $2.50 to $4.50 each, the food is authentic Filipino and delicious. I’ve never seen another foreigner in one, ever, so safe to say that’s where locals go as well. While pancit is a specialty, they have a full menu. My favorite dish is the sizzling pork chop steak: two pork chops and a side of veggies, with mushrooms and gravy.

  9. I’m sorry to hear that you were ill, Agness. That’s the least we expect while traveling :(
    I’ve never tried filipino food but I hear their lechon is a must try.
    Thanks for sharing it with us though, I always love your food post :)

  10. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)o

    I had to laugh when I read the title of this post. I’m not sure I would go quite so far as to say I’d rather starve than eat Filipino food again, but I do agree that the food we encountered there was really disappointing and underwhelming, and sometimes really gross. I agree that it was actually very difficult to find local food—I suspect you generally have to be invited into someone’s home to experience that, since most of the food we found in restaurants was fast food or western influenced. I know that Filipinos are very passionate about their food, so we were really disappointed to find the food there so unappetizing.

  11. Hannah @getting stamped

    I totally agree with you. We just spent 23 days in the Philippines and we too weren’t impressed with food. There is only so much rice and chicken adobo you can eat. We were shocked on the fruit prices and then the quality was terrible! Hoping our next country is much better :-)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I know!! :) Enjoy your next destination. It’s Vietnam, right? Don’t forget to dig into some spring rolls and Pho soup! :D

  12. We only travelled to one place in the Philippies, but unfortunately we had some bad experiences with the food too – though yours look really terrible! I think it’s worse when you’re a meat eater, as usually being vegetarian means you’re pretty safe with what you’re eating. We also had trouble with our digestion and feeling rubbish as a result of the food though.

    Fortuantely for us the mangoes were really good in Palawan! We also found that “foreign foods” like pizza and falafel were much better than the so-called “local” foods in the area where we were, which is lame, but safe at least.

  13. Oh dear Agnes! Looks like you guys were really unlucky with the food. It’s clearly made a terrible impression on you- shame you couldn’t find anything yummy. I know how much you guys appreciate your local foods and snacks (like those yoghurt drinks in Beijing- thanks for the idea of having it withe strawberries!) I hadn’t heard that much about Filipino food to be honest. I don’t think I’ve ever had any. I’m glad you managed to find a couple of things that you recommend though. The binignit soup sounds good.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, we were, unfortunately. We love Chinese food, really. You can get a great variety of local street food and it’s cheap, nutritious and extremely yummy. I often crave baked sweet potatoes with grilled fish, Beijing’s yogurt drinks, sweetcorn, congee and soups! So glad I’m back here!

  14. I’m with you on this! I really didn’t like the food either and because of the lack of nutricion I started to feel really weak throughout my trip. And not only that; I got really bad food poisoning in San Juan. :(

  15. I actually agree with you completely. I spent just 2 weeks in Luzon in 2009 and didn’t enjoy the food at all. I found it was mostly just rice and ‘meat’ (what kind of meat was never expressed!) and indeed the fruits and vegetables were not good quality it seemed to me. The most disappointing experience I had there was when I asked what kind of meat a nice looking curry had in it, and I was told beef, but when I started eating it realised it was tripe (the lining of a cow’s stomach). Clearly the lady serving me had a different meaning for beef than I did (which was an interesting realisation, maybe just not a welcome one at the time!) So yes, my impression overall of the Philippines was wonderful people, amazing beaches but crappy food. Such a shame!

    1. Sam if i may… Maybe you were just in the wrong place in luzon. You should’ve hired a tour guide.. you’ll find a delicious filipino food in a home :) well cooked, well organized, very hospitable and etc. Don’t just generalize and judge our cuisine. What if we wrote an article about your country wouldn’t that hurt your feelings? just saying.

      1. Agness Walewinder

        We never hired a tour guide. All places we dined out at were found by ourselves.I am proud of Polish food, but I can totally understand anyone complaining about it. We are all different people with different taste and food expectations. I have heard bad stories about Polish food and drinks. I respect people’s opinion. That’s why I love travelling to find out what is good and bad for me. If you don’t like Polish food, that’s absolutely fine and I respect that. Nothing wrong with that.

      2. It never occured to me to hire a guide either, but I did stay in people’s homes a couple of times (renting a room) and indeed found them very hospitable! I’m from the UK where the food has a terrible reputation, so I’m with Agness; if you have a bad experience with food in my country, I can totally understand that and respect your opinion of it.

      3. Well, in my case…

        I’ve never tried to hire a guide, too…
        (since I’m a backpacker – travelling on a budget.. hehehe… )

        I just conduct a good research first of the place I’m traveling to..
        May it be of the peeps, the activities, food and of course a bit about the language — but here in the Philippines, English is good too BUT, wait for the other person to absorb your presence first before you start asking questions, people here get easily intimidated when confronted by a foreigner, OK? (back to reading more of the comments, while having breakfast **brown coffee(coffee with brown sugar, pandesal (bun), lakatan (a type of banana), and palabok) only for $1… hehehe… (“pofta buna” to me — Romanian for “bon appétit”

    2. Agness Walewinder

      Thanks Sam. Yes, fruits and veggies were really bad. Tripe in your curry? WOW! Some areas are really poor and people make food as cheap as possible putting really nasty and not fresh ingredients :(.

  16. Tim | UrbanDuniya

    Ohhhh that’s such a shame! And Agness you look so forlorn in that picture!!! :(

    Although I have to say, if there are not many of a particular restaurant anywhere, it immediately makes me wonder if there’s a reason for that! I bet you’re not going hungry now that you’re back in China :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      No smiley Agness anymore. I get upset and grumpy when I am hungry!!!! :-D I turn into a mean woman ! :D

  17. That’s a great and honest observation. Unfortunately, it didn’t meet your expectations. If you really wanna taste great variety of filipino food, try to visit during fiestas. Most street foods are crappy and tasteless. Most sellers just want to make a profit not minding the customers at all. And these customers keep buying because it’s cheaper and just for them to fill-in their hungry tummy.
    I suggest next time, it would be satisfying if you can stay in a filipino home and be able to really taste their own delicacies. I’ve been living in Thailand for 7 years now and I see how thai local foods are being prepared as well on the streets (except those tourists areas like Silom and Khaosan) but I do prefer to look at the bright side. I did also suffer from diarrhea three times on the first month but was get used to it later.
    So I think every traveler has some pretty good and bad experience about food in other countries but then that’s part of travelling especially if our budget is tight. :) Thanks for sharing.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      That is why I love to travel – it’s both – good and bad experience and we are grateful for both! :)

  18. Agnes’s, you are spot on. I spent a month in the Philippines from end Jan – Feb this year, and I was totally disappointed with the quality of the food. They are a nation obsessed with sugar and fast food. Sugar in the bread (yuck), it was even in a spaghetti bolognaise I ordered! I too suffered from tiredness, mood swings, even depression for no obvious reason sometimes. I’m sure this was down to the food. What a shame, with all the sea surrounding them, that the preparation and ingredients are all so wrong. There were some healthier, well prepared exceptions like you say (and you can cook yourself) but these were always substantially more expensive and/or western run.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      You nailed it Ben! I totally agree with what you are saying here. Most of people are obsessed with sugar and fast food and they love to follow American way of eating BIG and UNHEALTHY.

      1. You can probably blame the Westernized (sugar, fatty, oily) food that you came across in the Philippines on the fact that the Philippines was under Spanish colonial rule for over 300 years and was then ceded to the US until they became independent in 1946. It’s not that Filipinos love to follow the American way. In the grand scheme of things, what you ate is what was introduced and forced onto a country that did not rule itself for almost 500 years. It’s what they’ve known.

        Before being colonized by the Spanish, before being called the Philippines and before we were considered Filipinos… the people of the 7000+ islands did indeed eat healthy from both land and sea as the islands provided excellent rich, nutrient resources.

        BUT, that way of life is barely heard of today and why would it be heard of after 500 years of oppression and corruption in which other countries tried to impose on their way of life to show them what’s considered “better” and “civilized”? Right? And even if the Philippines is independent today, the government is pretty much like how it was during colonial times dictating the lives of Filipinos, many of whom live in poverty.

        I get that you had it rough, trying to eat the “authentic” foods and what the locals eat, but before you go making generalizations on Filipino food trying to copy the American ways of eating… you should try taking a look at why it is the way it is. You could probably get a small history lesson out of the food you eat there… At the very least, you probably shouldn’t be looking for anything authentic in very populated areas of the Philippines like Manila in the first place and take to the provinces instead.

      2. I am sampling local culture here not referring to people but food. No one should feel hurt or anything as it’s my view and valid like anyone’s. Sorry to hear you took it so personal.

        You nailed it Ben! I totally agree with what you are saying here. Most of people are obsessed with sugar and fast food and they love to follow American way of eating BIG and UNHEALTHY.

        huh?

  19. I can’t help but feel bad because you had a horrible experience with Filipino food. We Filipinos have a long way to go in terms of food tourism, which is a shame really, because we have such a diverse cuisine which is not just oily, fatty and salty. :) But, I salute you for trying our street food, because even I would have second doubts about eating at a roadside eatery. Well, I guess it really depends on the location and the cleanliness of the owner.

    Truth be told, I was looking forward to reading your posts about our food: sinigang, lechon, adobo, sisig, bulalo, inasal, etc. but they were nowhere to be found! But what i find quite appalling and embarassing for my country is that you were not able to taste our local fruits, specially our mangoes (specially the Guimaras variety) which is the best in the world. These mangoes are known for their quality and are exported. Sadly, even the average Filipino may find it on the expensive side. I truly hope you won’t let this experience prevent you from coming back here. And I hope, for your tummy’s sake, that you will have a local to show you around the next time. :) If there’s one thing that could be said about Filipinos is that we don’t want our guests to leave until they have tried the best of everything. Specially our food. :)

    1. I’m from manila and almost all of the dishes you mentioned were honestly really unhealthy. I think they were trying to look for healthy food.

      to the writer with all honestly as a filipino myself, we filipinos lack discipline. just look at our current government or even go to a street intersection where there is a pedestrian lane that pedestrians don’t use and ignore traffic signs lol.

      when it comes to cooking, most filipino dishes are just rich in flavor but are really unhealthy

  20. I agree that quality local food that really identifies the culture of the Filipinos is hard to find in the common place in the Philippines. It’s a disappointment shared not just by tourist but by Filipinos as well. Compared to Thailand, where rich and common people love to eat their local food out in the streets, Filipinos relate eating at these street “karenderia” (eatery) as a status symbol. POORLY PREPARED FOR POOR CUSTOMERS/EATERS.

    LOCATION matters too. As you have known, Filipinos are very diversified in language and food. PAMPANGA is known for the tourists who want to indulge in Filipino food. Quality restaurants are mostly WESTERNIZED so don’t expect getting it from there unless you are a chicken-rice aficionado.

    You are right when you said, you’ll only get the tastiest local food when invited into a family meal or eating at expensive Filipino restaurant. Each city has one I guess.

    Statistically, you (who experienced this) are just a few against the other tourists who have good food memories. My suggestion is you need to find a Filipino who has a good-sized family who is willing to improve your experience. Being guided or invited will always guarantee good memories. Get to know at least someone to avoid being ripped off.

    To Agnes, you just got unlucky. Can you tell us what province did you experience this? Manila is not a guarantee unless you go to expensive Filipino restaurants. Do it again by skipping the urban and finding a nice Filipino family.

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