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

Note from Editors: In view of the current situation, please avoid all unnecessary travel and try to stay home. Don’t worry, like all things, it will end at some point and you’ll be able to travel again. In the meantime, check out what you can do while staying at home.

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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818 thoughts on “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Street Food Again!”

  1. Word from a Pinay: In general, Filipino street food is not impressive. I prefer my mom’s cooking LOL. When on vacation, I always include good restaurants in the budget. Street food is too risky in terms of quality and hygiene. There are lots of delicious traditional Filipino food– you just need to look for them and pay way more than you would for street food.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Unfortunately we could not afford to dine out in good restaurants. As you can see, our budget is $25 a day a person :). P.S. I miss my mom’s cooking as well so I can’t wait to go back home for summer ! <3

      1. Hi Agnes,

        $25 per person per day gives you Php 1,000.00 which is enough to get you three meals in good Filipino restaurants. Maybe your “tour guide” ripped you off so you didn’t get to look in the right places.

        I suggest looking for a local host family or friend should you decide to come back. You can email me if you want. Hospitality is one of the Filipino people’s specialties so I’m sure you’ll get a much better experience then.:)

      2. You can afford a decent food in that amount of money.. for a whole day, if that budget’s for food only. But yeah, I got to agree, I’m a local and I too don’t fancy some of our dishes.. yeah, some of them are too sweet, too fatty, too salty, but that’s not all about it.. you must try the other regions’ cuisine; street food in Manila? NO. No to street food in general.. and that’s the reason why they’re called street food.
        so you tried balut.. did you like it? it’s one of my favorites. Seriously though, stay away from street food, it’s not good for you.
        As for breakfast, because you’re asking if that’s typically our breakfast.. uhm no, I sometimes eat 2 large pandesal (Pan de Manila/Pan de Pugon) they’re really good, but cheap.. and those bread are usually partnered with scrambled eggs or peanut butter or hotdog or tuna or anything. Then coffee; I choose brewed coffee. I think what you had was either the normal instant coffee or the 3 in 1, that’s coffee in a sachet with sugar and creamer mixed with coffee.. that’s very popular here and also cheap, and I too buy those. But I think you got your hotdog at 7 eleven, they also serve brewed coffee for about 30 pesos.. and it tastes like real brewed coffee. Have you tried suman? some of us also eat that for breakfast.. also puto, kutsinta.. have you tried taho? in Baguio they have strawberry taho which is very unusual, but it tastes good.. a bit sweet yeah, but you can ask the vendor not to put too much syrup (strawberry syrup).
        I can’t name them all, but if you really want to experience the real Filipino food, you’ve got to explore and expect them good food to cleaner places. You’re right about what you said here, but still a bit unfair. Maybe you should expand your budget a bit more when you think of coming back. No? :D

      3. Your obervations and experiences are correct. Filipino food is sort of trash. And you didn’t even see how they prepared it. You would puke. Ingredients are extremely low quality. Breads are made with 3rd class flour and extenders, are expensive for that shit. Portions are for babies. Handling, hygiene, are close to zero. Including the utensils, people, store. Go to a restaurant, and you’re in for highway robbery, with the same low quality food, you’re paying for the ambiance, nothing else. Even i get ripped off and overcharged frequently, and i’m filipino. Best bet, just go to thailand, malaysia, singapore, even hk, if you want good food at affordable prices. Yes, even singapore is cheaper than the philippines now, in terms of food. And you get the best quality. I hope your tummies and bodies have recovered and are well. I, have to live with this shit still.
        For adobo, just cook it yourself. Chicken, little dark soy to color, lots of water, vinegar half cup, sugar to your taste, garlic cloves how much you want, a bay leaf, peppercorns, boil, then simmer together for 45mins. Lazy filipino cooking. Asado, just add pineapple juice to that. Balut, they have in vietnam and thailand, don’t know what it’s called tho.
        Good luck!!

      4. Coffee? Go to any other asian country. Malaysia has the best!
        Just go to any other country if you want to eat. Period. Don’t waste your money here for food, culture, fun, safety. I don’t know what you’ve been told. Beware of drinking or eating with friendly people on the streets. They could drug you with ativan. I’m speaking from experience.
        The truth shall set you free.

  2. Rachel of Hippie in Heels

    Hi Agnes, bummer you didn’t like the food. There have been places that I was very underwhelmed as well! There was a post by the Globetrotter Girls called “Why Chilean Food Sucks” and people went nuts yelling at them- I see a couple mean posts on here as well. I hope people keep it nice! I hate HATE comments even on other people’s sites :(

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi sweetie,

      Thanks! Filipino people seem to be very proud of their food and I absolutely understand that. We respect everyone’s opinion as long as it’s expressed in a polite and kind way without using bad words and insulting people.

      What can I say… Sometimes travelling is also about bad experiences. I am referring to food we did not like and there is nothing I can do with that. I could lie and say “Yes! I loved it!” and make everyone happy, but that’s not the point. We are honest here… :) and I can cope with negative and mean comments, no worries! :-)

      1. Hi Agnes,

        We have 17 regions in the Philippines and I would say you have tried one place only which is in Luzon please do try to come in other regions as well which they have their own delicious food delicacies or better yet check this site:
        I’m from Philippines but never have Itried to travel in LUZON AREA so I’m not familiar with their food also but try the foods in VISAYAS and MINDANAO for a different view :)

  3. I’m Filipino and i don’t intend to be on the other side of the truth here but there is a little detail that you forgot about your post and your experiences. You never had anyone who knows something about the ins and outs of the locality. Sure it was nice that you took the initiative to try some stuff but you we’re in the wrong places in the wrong times. Get a local who can help you. If you weren’t aware, Filipinos play with certain languages and English is our second medium of communication, you failed to communicate properly with a native. And if you actually intend to eat something that is both hearty and appetizing then stay at a friend’s house during festivals. You travel that’s great, but use your social media friends to maximize the experience. Oh before I end please try something like Nilaga (comes with many different varieties; pork, shrimp, etc.), Pancit Palabok, Halo-halo or the ever famous Inasal… I’m sure were open to any suggestions right?

  4. One last thing, if you want i can be your tour guide, and if you need some place to stay we can adopt you… See you around!

  5. Thank you for your honesty, different cuisines are really up to individual likings but still, at least you did not just give up on it on the first attempt! :)

    Although I have never been to Philippines but I have tried some filipino dishes. I find them too sweet for my liking too.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thank you Pamela. I hope you can make it to the Philippines soon and find out what locals have to offer.

  6. What a shame guys! I heard the same comments about Filipino food from other travelers. Looking the bright side, at least you managed to try some local dishes in the end, even if only few :)

      1. I couldn’t agree more…
        Do come back and look for a better guide… OK?

        Email me… I can have someone — or even MYSELF.
        Guide you… No biggie… ;)

  7. Indietraveller Marek

    Filiponos are so proud of their food. One Filipina told me she’d travelled all over south-east asia and hated the food there because it was “only spicy”. In the Philippines, she said, you had all the flavours.

    Sadly, I have to agree with you. Filipino food is not great… just too much fat, sugar, and salt. There are exceptions of course, but overall it’s a huge step down from any other cuisine in the region :(

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I know locals are proud of their food. I’m proud of Polish food as well! I hope nobody takes it personal. It’s all about our food experience. Yes, it’s fat, packed with sugar and oil :(. There are way too many junk food restaurants and pizzerias and people get obese day after day.

      1. I think what most upsets filipino, which I am, is your insensitive headline. “I would rather go hungry than eat Filipino Food AGAIN.” It’s your opinion and that’s fine. But, how would you feel if I went to Poland and ate dirty street food and insulted it just based on that one experience? It’s disrespectful.
        Street food is gross. Period. In the Philippines, street food is especially sold by the poor and naturally, it will be composed by the cheapest produce and poorest quality meats. My husband is Caucasian and loves Filipino food. It’s totally based on who prepares the food. Lots of people take shortcuts and just throw in too much salt, sugar and fat. But you shouldn’t base something on one experience. I don’t mean to sound like a jerk in any way but, your headline was just not nice at all. $25 is a lot in the Philippines and if you had the right resources and the right person to show you around, I bet your time there would have been better. I was born and raised in California and I wouldn’t even be walking around a neighborhood without a proper guide around. It’s also not safe.
        Ps, that fried “dumpling” is called an empanada. It doesn’t always have egg in it and when I eat it, it is not fried. So, just try to explore options more. There are about 171 dialects and 7,107 islands in the Philippines which means, one area of street food should not represent Filipino food.

    2. it’s because we have all our different food preferences, every country differs from one another depending on the region. If you cannot appreciate the taste of other foods, then you may just to stick on your local dishes .

  8. Let me help you shed some light in your dreadful experience in the Philippines. I’m a local.

    1. A traditional Filipino breakast may contain Pan De Sal (bun), rice (staple food), dried fish (we love having it in the morning), tomato, hotdogs, eggs, bacon, longganisa, tocino, etc. We also have it with coffee, tea or fruit juices. What was served for you in Pagudpud was not even close a traditional Filipino breakfast. Your guide must have misunderstood your request and gave you whatever he can grab at that time.

    2. Grilled (burnt) fish is indeed a common dish. If the Japanese can’t wait for their fish to cook, we are the exact opposite. We are okay with burnt food.

    3. The hotdog served to you (which is what I am eating atm) is more likely from 7-11, a convenience store that I believe you guys have too. If you go to convenience stores and ask for Longganisa, people would think you are joking. Why you were served a hotdog by whomever you asked, I have no idea. Everyone here knows the different between the two.

    4. The stomachache you got may have been from street foods. Even the locals would prefer to avoid it if they only have the luxury to do so. But they are general poor so there you go. Our stomaches are used to dirty food (good for survival, come zombie apocalypse, I guess). Dizziness – must be the oily food you ate. Yeah. We get that too. We love oily foods. LOL. Overtired – sadly, our food isn’t as healthy as all the other Asian cuisines. Bloated – Well, this all depends on the type of food you ate. Next time, tell your guide to not serve you “heavy” meals. He’d know what to do.

    5. Sadly, our local markets are indeed dirty and has little to no regard for hygiene. People would normally clean the food they bought from these kinds of markets before cooking them to avoid food contamination. The food isn’t top quality either. Most of the fruit and vegetables were bought cheap from suppliers and isn’t as tasty as one would expect. The good thing about it thought is that they are laughably cheap. That’s why the middle-class tends to avoid local markets altogether and go to the supermarket for their daily needs to get decent food.

    6. I would suggest all foreign travellers to avoid street cafeterias and cheap pantries if you can. Yes, the food is very cheap and a meal can cost less than a dollar but you literally get what you pay for from these cheap restos. The food are prepared as hurriedly and as cheaply as possible because the mark up cannot be too high or else people will flock other establishments with cheaper pricing. If you really want a decent Filipino cuisine, get a Filipno family to adopt you during your stay to get authentic home cooked meals (I have a couple of foreign friends who does this, you get a decent guide, home-cooked meals and way cheaper lodging) or go to decent Filipino Restoraunts. An average meal should cost about $3-10 dollars. If you buy food for anything less than that, you are eating what we call “food for the masses”. 70% of our population is poor. They live within their means. We have a saying “Mura na, madumi pa!”, which translates to “Not only is it cheap, it’s dirty too!”. And yes, I eat street foods too when I am in the mood for a snack in between my daily commute. And I eat at these cafeterias too when my maid can’t cook and I am short on budget for a decent meal.

    7. “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.” – All the more reason for you to avoid street food (dirty food) anywhere you go.

    8. N”o 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.” – No, an average Filipino is skinny. Even in the “North”. If America is called the country of excess, we are the exact opposite. Obesity will never be a problem in the Philippines.

    9. You made a very bad decision when you chose your guide. Your experience could have been very different otherwise. He gave you a hotdog instead of a Longganisa. He gave you random fruits instead of a standard Filipino breakfast. He fed you dirty food instead of bringing you to decent Filipino Restaurants. For all we know, he is the one to blame from all your bad experiences here.

    10. The pineapple juice you bought from a street vendor costs about 10 cents. A not-so-good pineapple here costs about a dollar. Not sure how much it is where you live. So expect water, artificial fruit flavored powder and dirty ice on your drink. A real Pineapple juice should cost way more than that. You may even get Hepatitis from the street foods here. Please don’t buy cheap food here. It is for your own good.

    Why am I doing this? Because you barely ate real Filipino food and your title is somewhat…extreme. But then again, it’s your site and it’s your opinion, hehehe! Cheers!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Gaki,

      Thank you ever so much for sharing that with us. That is just fantastic. Yes, as you mentioned, it’s our personal blog where we share bad and good experience from our travels. We had a bad experience with local street food in the Philippines, sorry. I’m referring here to the food, its bad quality and lack of variety, not to the people. Don’t take it personal.

      Thank you!

      1. you are right, never trust filipino street food. seriously i’m from the philippines 80% wasn’t in a sanitary environment

      2. Yeah. What you can see on the streets does not necessarily mirror the culture/food of the Philippines. It is like that because they have to survive. The seller has to sell something cheap to have buyers so he or she can live, the buyer has to buy the cheapest to live. If they have a choice, if they just can, economically, I bet the street foods of the Philippines will be similar at least to Thailand not only in Manila but even to the smallest barrios in the north. If they just have the money they will sell what most Filipinoes would want to eat. True Filipino Food, like the food cooked by their mothers or the recipe handed down by grandmothers. I am a Filipino, I agree with the cleanliness comment. I DONT EAT as well on these type of food stalls because I am scared to get sick. I am just lucky because we have enough money to buy good quality ingredients so my mom can prepare adobo, sinigang, bulalo, etc. Just like how it should be, like how it was before, when most Filipinoes still have enough money.

    2. I’m a Filipino and I grew up in Manila. I have to agree that if you want to taste good Filipino food, you have to get yourself invited to a Filipino home for a home-cooked meal. When my parents have foreign visitors or friends/family coming home from abroad, we invite them to our house and we cook for them. If you’re not as lucky, you could try Filipino restaurants in malls; the food there actually are more accurate incarnations of home-cooked Pinoy food compared to street foods or sidewalk eateries. Even I don’t eat at those places because 1) not worth your money if you can actually afford slightly more expensive but still decent food and 2) you could get AGE, typhoid, Hepa A, etc from those places. You’ll be surprised because there are actually a lot of restaurants (some in malls, others stand alone establishments) are not expensive but still serve good food.

  9. I’m from fhe Philippines amd sadly, I have to agree with you. Filipino foods are either salty(adobo with salts…soy sauve), oily (fried everything.. And Filipinos love to eat PORK) or sweet (minatamis or “sweetened” everything. Although as stated by the previous commenters, a lot of the food stalls on sidewalks where you bought or looked for meals that you ate were not exactly made to satisfy foreigners. You were on point about haggling. It’s the poor economy that drove all these vendors and pretty much everybody to corruption.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Tush,

      At least one person from the Philippines can relate to this post and agree with what we are writing here. THANKS!

      1. 1 tip when eating in the Phillipines: Don’t go mainstream, it’s not authentic (quality and standard wise)

      2. Hi, I think it’s better to change your title as it generalizes all the Filipino food. Better say “My experience on local street/fast foods in the Philippines”. With your title “Id rather go hungry than eat Filipino foods again”, basically it generalizes the whole country’s cuisine.

      3. Hey Agness,

        Looking at the photos of the food you tried in our country, looks like you haven’t gone to our country at all. I believe you already have an idea that the Philippines is an archipelago and trying “Filipino foods” by just staying in one of the islands is not the right way to do it. Every island, every region has its own specialty. You can’t just say that you have tried our local foods because you have been eating in fast foods/carinderia where locals eat. This is not Thailand or Vietnam where you can easily get authentic local foods in the streets. Like what others are saying, knowing where to eat is way different from knowing what to eat.

      4. I agree with your post. I am a Filipino from down south and like you I travel a lot around the Philippines. Next time you visit our country, never drink tap water in major cities, they are dirty that’s why there’s a lot of water refilling stations every where. Even locals don’t drink it. I’ve had LBM many times.

        Traditional Filipino foods vary from each region. each region have their own cuisines and methods for cooking. I am from south called Mindanao and I tell you I’m not even familiar with most traditional cuisines in some regions.

  10. hi agnes,i think u went to the budgeted places. the food u ate are for the local filipinos who can only afford for the budgeted prices.tourist may also try but it has no assurance of the cleanliness and the quality of the food.if u really want to taste the real filipino food u shouldve googled the food first.ive been to pagudpod also and i really enjoyed their food there but it cost quite expensive.try going to manila and try their best restaurants there.ur research wasnt good enough.as a traveller,u must research the best food to order and the best place/restaurant to go.u must give it another shot with a good guide.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      We ate where locals usually eat. That’s how we experience local cuisine. Of course we could have gone to fancy and expensive restaurants, but that’s not the point.

      1. Just a tip. If you wanna experience real Filipino food, you must not eat on the streets nor in fast food restaurants. There are a lot of decent restaurant serving same as a home-cooked bill in a Filipino house’. So if I were you…you should’ve not only tried the food on the streets. Street foods in the Philippine aren’t impressive. Unhealthy just like any other street foods found from other countries such as Thailand. And please don’t utter “FILIPINO FOODS” if you haven’t tried eating in a Filipino house yet. The food that you experienced on the street were all considered fast foods. They are not cooked traditionally…though they’re eaten by the locals. Not all locals..just a percent! We usually cook our food in our houses. So if you want to discover clean, and awesome Filipino food..visit a Filipino house or just a decent Filipino restaurant. Not food on the streets…I’m but a poor Filipino. But I don’t eat on the streets, I may get real sick same as you’ve experienced.

      2. you don’t need to go to fancy restaurants, in the mall will do. Side walk eating you wont be up for it,specially if you are used to sandwiches and salads.

      3. I have lived in the Philippines my whole life and I have to say I’m not a huge fan of Filipino food, however it really helps to know where to eat. You probably went to places where the locals ate which I think is great (all part of the cultural experience), but you have to know that the locals have been eating there for years so their stomachs are accustomed to these foods, and the Philippines has a looot of poverty (which I’m sure you saw) and so the quality of food, even just fruits or vegetables are definitely lower quality than what you would find in Europe or even other parts of Asia (probably why they are also usually cheaper). But if you ever come back there are more (and I believe better) places to eat! Each area has it’s own places where locals eat. A lot of locals still go to malls to eat every now and then but the “real” Filipino cuisine I believe, is in the home. Most moms I know can cook an amazing Adobo. Anyway best of luck to you on your future travels! I hope you still enjoyed your stay even though you did not enjoy the food!

      4. FYI, some of the places you went to get grub were called “Karinderias”, locals don’t usually eat there to satisfy their own cravings. In fact, only students and the working class eat there to fill up their bellies to give them energy for work,that’s why it is cheap. As for the places that locals eat went to eat to stimulate their taste buds, they eat HOME COOKED MEALS IN THEIR ON HOMES, Exotic food in “Real” Street food stalls and Gourmet Filipino Cuisine in Restaurants not in Karinderias which was meant to fill up working class filipinos’ bellies. So don’t expect to experience Filipino cuisine when eating in those kinds of places. Sad to say, you never really experienced True Filipino Cuisine.

      5. In the Philippines, locals do NOT usually eat on SIDEWALKS. They eat at HOME. Or bring to work food from their houses. Sidewalk food in the Philippines is sloppily made fast food and does not do justice to real Filipino food – what we call lutong bahay (home-cooked meals).

        So if you wanted genuine Filipino food, you should have eaten in the house of one of your Filipino friends. Or you should have gone to a restaurant that serves Filipino food. I am Filipino and I can tell you I have NEVER tried sidewalk food. I usually eat at home, or in restaurants. If you wanted the place “where locals usually eat,” you chose the wrong venues – and therefore got the wrong impressions.

        Not your fault, though. Next time, eat at a middle-class Filipino home or eat at one of our restaurants. That’s Filipino =)

      6. This is not a hate comment but just a piece of my mind and some suggestions if I may.

        First of all the title of your blog post “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Food Again!” is really offensive. I know it is your right and opinion but I thought since you love travelling, you are more openminded than some other people that were not exposed to other cultures aside from the one that you are familiar with.

        Based on your pictures, you are eating on sidewalks which is called turo-turo/carenderia. You also said that it is where MOST LOCALS dine. I know sidewalk vendors are all over the place and people eat in there BUT there are so many people in the Philippines and the “LOCALS” that you saw eating there are most likely the ones that are really poor and can’t afford to eat somewhere decent. I don’t have anything against people who can’t afford because they should eat and do whatever they need to do even if it means eating unsafe street food. By the look of the table an AVERAGE Filipino won’t eat in there coz it is very dirty so I was surprised since you can afford 25bucks a day of food why will you eat where it cost a buck or less for a whole meal? With the things you showed it’s like you were allowing yourself not more than 10 bucks a day. Anywhere you go, you get what you pay for.

        You might have seen lot of locals eat in dirty places like that but that is just a small portion of our people. If you want real food like lechon the only way to have it good is to pay at least 200USD for a small one. Nobody goes to 7-Eleven to ask for longganisa. Longanisa is bought is a reputable local dealer or the ones from Pampangga and then you home cook it. If you want half decent food your 25 dollars will be enough. With the things I’ve seen in the photos it is no more 10 bucks a day. It is nice to know someone local so you could eat the AUTHENTIC FILIPINO FOOD, HOME COOKED. RESTAURANTS COOK IT TOO BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY MORE THAN THE COST YOU PAID ON STREET FOOD. The street food version is a far cry from the real one.

        Usually if you go to Pagudpud or Palawan the breakfast you will get for a cheap resort or resto is really like that. You pay cheap you get cheap.

        I know you had a bad experience and got sick and I feel sorry for you but at least do not generalize Filipino food because what you ate is not even close. Adobo does not have a broth like that in the picture. I’ve been to Banaue and they dont have a lot of choices because they are on top of the mountain. If you got bad experience with street food and turo-turo food(based on your pictures) then that should be emphasized, too bad you title says otherwise.

        There is a lot of decent places to eat in Manila and I myself never tried a turo-turo before because we were taught that is it dirty, our parents forbid us to eat there and most parents I know forbid their kids too. Next time do not go to the poor areas. Go to Makati, Restaurants/Hotels in Roxas Boulevard, Market-Market, Mall of Asia and Bonifacio Global City. Try to go to some Floating Restaurants and I am sure you won’t be disappointed. A very good meal in a floating restaurant is minimum 50 bucks good for two person. Now that is authentic because authentic and fresh costs more than the streetfood.

        I hope you will give it a chance again and next time, home cooked meal is good thing to try and a lot of AUTHENTIC FILIPINO RESTAURANTS ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE. Even Filipinos avoid eating street food but there is a lot of poor people and that is the only thing they can afford.

      7. I cook dishes based on recipe from different country, unless you are adventurous when it comes to food if unfamiliar you should not go for street foods unless you are accompanied by locals. But one thing I can tell you , those people eating street food in the Philippines that seem very disgusting to you in one way or another have strong immune system.

      8. Yup. You’re right about that. But there’s so many levels of street foods or cheap restaurants that even many locals would avoid. I’m guessing you went to those judging by the photos you posted. The 7-11 food. Really? I went to Burma and got sick the first day I ate local food. But I attributed that to my stomach which lost its natural hardiness after being used to more hygeanically prepared food and water. Remember, when you travel, don’t drink the water. Drink beer. You got sick and I laugh at your pain.

        And to @ZhaGaga…..Filipino foods are fatty/oily and full of carbs for one reason…..it’s supposed to last you a whole day of hard labor. It’s salty because salt is mostly used to preserve fish or beef by making jerky out of them. Our use of soy and fish sauce is no different from the rest of east Asia. Now that everybody is a city dweller and doesn’t have to walk 2 kilometers to chat with his/her neighbor, lessen your intake or excercise to compensate. Jeez you all could be so simple.

      9. Daily local cuisine is based on the FIlipino’s capacity to buy food. You should have to know how much locals earn their living for them to choose rubbish food. But if you are lucky, try visiting their local country fiestas. They serve their good food on those occasions, and i mean real food. And regarding your breakfast in Pagudpud, apples and oranges are imported from China, they dont grow here. Bananas vary from small (señorita) to big (sabá) varieties, what you got on the picture is the kind that most can afford because its cheap, and yes it gets dark-black because its sensitive and can get easily oxidized. good bananas are sold in airconditioned markets and are usually exported to your country but they are not as organic as the variety you got in Pagudpud. The Longganisa on the picture is NOT longganisa at all! that’s hotdog from 7-11! disappointingly, your research on the food seems insufficient. youve been to the north down to the Visayas region, you should have known that there varieties of longganisa too and tried them at least. Every food here in the Philippine has varieties even the most esteemed Adobo. It differs from one mother who cooks it to another. I am a Filipino and I must tell you, Filipino food is meant to be tried at home not on restaurants, expensive or otherwise.

      10. There are a lot of better places to eat in even if it’s not in a fancy restaurant. You could have gone to dampa or Binondo. It would be cheap but good.

      11. Most of the real food that is really experienced are in homes. Most of these are made with love. Longganisa is a specialty and not sold in convenience stores. You were in Manila as well so your authenticity factor for your buck fails. You do know that you went into a country that is experiencing poverty. If you really want real food, buy the ingredients and then have someone cook it for you. In that case, they would not skimp on the ingredients. It is also disappointing to know that you only tried without asking, for example, chefs in the Philippines. They know the cheap food places where they get their inspiration from.

        Your research was only based on a few choices and places and notwithstanding your poor judge of character. It’s sad that you were not able to try turon, 10 kinds of adobo, sinigang, and the works.
        I hope you get to see and experience Filipinos and not just their food. The real tastes are in families and smiles.

      12. I’m a Filipino hailed from Manila, and yet, when I lived in the Philippines, I never ate @ the local carinderias where you ate. I know that you are trying to experience eating local cuisine and probably thought that the best way was to eat where the locals go. The thing is, where the locals go, the food is usually not sanitary and definitely not good. To tell you the truth, Filipino cuisine is really good if it’s cooked the traditional way and all the ingredients are present. These carinderias where you ate would not cook food that way because it would be too expensive, so therefore they will not earn much. If you really wanted to eat and experience the real taste of Filipino cuisine then you shouldn’t have eaten on those cheap carinderias. You wouldn’t have to suffer with stomachache and diarrhea. I was shaking my head while looking at the pictures that you posted. That adobo looks disgusting swimming in watery sauce… in fact all the pictures of the food you posted look disgusting even the binignit, pansit bihon, and lomi that you liked and recommended. I love all those food mind you, but I won’t eat them if I see them cooked like those in your pictures. Next time you go to the Philippines, don’t eat in the carinderias, please. Also, try to spend more money (which still would be cheap no matter what) and go to nicer places which I know exist in the Philippines. I have a lot of foreigner friends that enjoyed their stay in the Philippines and were raving about the food they ate, but that’s because they probably didn’t go to the places where you went to. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Hope that you give it a try again.

      13. I can totally understand what you’re talking about in this blog. I was initially somewhat offended (being Filipino-American), but then realized, “Wait a minute… They went to the wrong places!” You can still get some REALLY good Filipino food (without going to a fancy restaurant) IF you know WHERE to go rather than what to eat.

        I’m no longer offended by this blog, mind you… NEXT time you come to the Philippines, find some of us here who have commented. We’ll ALL bring you to the RIGHT placeS! You won’t need to break the bank either!

      14. Hi Agness!

        I just want to point out that you don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to experience quality and authentic Filipino food. In every town/city, there will always be that one place/restaurant known for their *insert Filipino dish here* – you just have to know who to ask. You could have asked the hotel manager (if you were staying in a hotel) or any person of authority, because they would have pointed you to the right places, unlike people whom you just met on the street.

        Also, I wish you learned more about our country before you went here and judged our food. I’m not mad or anything, but you should know that most of the people here aren’t privileged, and they do what they can to make ends meet. Those who sell food sometimes level down price and quality for quantity, so that those who buy their food can afford to eat more.

        It’s a different story when it’s us cooking the food that we eat. I just wish that you tried a homecooked meal, because home’s the place where you can really try the richness of Filipino cuisine.

        I hope that if you do come back to visit the Philippines, keep in mind the suggestions given here. :)

  11. As a big foodie, it’s always disappointing for me to learn that a place’s cuisine isn’t the best. I’ve still yet to travel to the Philippines, but to be honest, having seen a few dishes on travel shows like Bourdain, I was already skeptical about how much I’d like the food there. What’s more sad is that you felt the markets weren’t selling tasty, fresh food, as usually that’s the failsafe option in Asia.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I agree, Julia. We are big foodies and food plays a major role here. This time it was a big disappointment, but right after the Philippines we headed to Singapore where we ate like crazy and the food was just heaven!

  12. A very honest post! I have to agree that from the photos the food doesn’t look very enticing, apart from the apple and raisin roll cakes ;-)

  13. Backpackers usually eats the cheapest food along the street, foods along the streets are for those who’ve got low budget. And if you’ve got low budget don’t expect. Haha

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, we are budget travelers. We have $25 budget limit we strictly follow (believe me or not) and we simply can’t afford to dine out in good restaurants. We always stick to street food. It’s authentic and cheap to us. Of course we could have gone to the best restaurants in Cebu or Manila where all the best food was served, but that’s not the tramp style. That’s not how we do it.

  14. I would summarize almost all your comments, except a few, in a single word: “ZEITGEIST”, which means, The Spirit of the Time or to be more explicit, “NONE OF YOU HAVE BACKBONE!”.

    It sounds like New York City, where if a driver simply decides to blow the horn just for fun, for no apparent reason at all, then everybody on the same avenue and adjacent streets start to honk with no idea why they’re doing it, just because they heard someone else and eventually the honking spreads all over the 12 avenues and over 125 streets in Manhattan alone.

    Come on people, get a life! 1st of all, don’t start criticizing and complaining just because someone else started doing that, and…2nd, “don’t do to to others what you don’t like to be done unto you”, because this world is relative and imperfect and someone will surely find faults and reasons to criticize and complain about the food and probably about many other things in your respective countries.

    I tell you what…I’m an european and I live in one of the most developed countries in the world – somewhere in the North of Europe – but by far I lived in 10 countries and I traveled to another 24, all these on 4 continents, and I didn’t like many things, including food in many of those countries, be it either third world, developing or developed country, but I moved on without complaining or criticizing and it never crossed my mind to make a blog and spread misery and criticism.

    But, well…”some eat to live and some live to eat”, and the latter are surely missing the fun and the beautiful part of life…
    …and Benjamin Franklin is a bit tougher on this issue by saying – “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.”

  15. HEllo! It is such a pity that you had a bad experience with local Filipino food. I am from the southern part of the Philippines and I lived in Cebu for 5 years. I do agree that Cebu’s local food in a local restaurants are not so good. The first time I had tried eating in a Karendirya I was really complaining how different the taste of their food than to what I am used too. I too hate oily food so when I cook i make sure it will just be enough. But there are really good restaurants in some specific locations specially to popular restaurants in CEbu City. I understand that you are now skeptical to try Filipino food again, but if in case you wanted to give it a second chance make sure to research where to find the best local FILipino food in the area. I am living outside the country now and I am looking forward to bring my boy friend to Philippines and let him taste more Filipino dishes. He loves FIlipino dishes that I cooked. ;)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thank you sweetie. This is what we do here – write the truth! :) As Mike said, travelling is not only about rainbows, unicorns and puppies :)!

  16. Oh no that’s a shame. From what I know of Filipino food it doesn’t hold any appeal for me (likewise I don’t really like Pacific Island cuisine). And how frustrating that you couldn’t find traditional food as visitors, either.

    A similarly disappointing food destination for me was Cambodia – just didn’t really click with the dishes there.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      You didn’t like Khmer cuisine? Me, just the opposite! :) I lived there for a few months and I fell in love with the way locals cook!

  17. What a shame you didn’t enjoy your culinary experience in the Philippines. Do you think the fact that they experienced Haiyan (Yolanda) which left so much devastation last November might have made any difference, especially with their fruit?

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Oh I see. That might be a reason. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it there anytime soon, but I’ll try my best!

  18. well, with the traditional stuff you have asked the locals, you may have been misunderstood.. maybe they thought you were asking for example traditional breakfast from your country..
    most of us were a little bit deaf, as we listen most of the time to rock music played loud..
    I am pretty deaf myself, has to ask what almost all the time..
    traditional breakfast is: tapsilog – can be found in Taal, Batangas.
    the famous ones are bulalo also from batangas.
    pinakbet, and lechon are also best in batangas in my opinion…
    you see, in the philippines, foods were almost alike in all parts but the copies were different from which they originated from.. like you can probably eat longganisa in pampanga and also have it in batangas,, they would taste different.. unlike in thailand which the taste is consistent, but the philippines is divided on the times when most parts where colonized having been influenced on different ways…
    and even the way people cook.. it’s different when we cook it at home and when people sell it in markets,.. in the philippines when you have to earn money or have more profit, you have cut down the cost, you have to be thrift.. you want to eat real traditional filipino food.. go to where there’s a fiesta or festival celebration.. doesn’t matter if you’re invited or not if it’s a feast of st. this or that.. food in every house that is open is for free..
    and most of the time food is good.. delicious.. because it is for consuming and not for selling….
    i know you wouldn’t understand but when you’re selling in the Philippines and you make profit sometimes, the quality is not that good.. and if you want to try good food, go to expensive restaurants, most locals who wants to taste good food doesn’t go to the street.. research first please.. street food here in Thailand is good though even in a very cheap place you can eat good food, not the same in Philippines, because ingredients there are a lot more expensive..

  19. Wow, I was as fascinated reading your post as I have been reading all of these comments. What I appreciate, look for and want in a blogger (travel or otherwise) first and foremost is candor and honesty. If all I hear is that their experience was rainbows, unicorns and puppies every time then I become a bit suspect. This was YOUR experience. Only YOU walked in your shoes during that cuisine journey. I read some comments here that “you need to be invited into someone’s home for authentic Filipino food…”. I went to four different websites that did not state “to taste authentic food you must be invited into someone’s home…” Two of them raved about the street food. For those who wish to hastily and defensively lash out at the writer’s opinion as being rude should as quickly take a look in the mirror at their own ill-mannered accusations. Terrific post Agness from eTramping! :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Exactly Mike! Thanks for your support. It has nothing to do with people. It’s all about the food – its poor quality and lack of variety. I was sick, hungry and suffered from a stomachache. I’m being honest here. It’s my personal blog where I am trying to share my personal experience and I’m not gonna lie here to make everyone happy. xx

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