Filipino Street Food Adventure

When in Rome, do as the Romans do—an advice fitting for any travelers visiting a foreign land. So, when you are in the Philippines, testing your palate with the Filipino street foods, while not necessary, is commendable. Not only would it be fun to try the unique local dishes, but it is a great way to immerse and understand the Filipino culture.

It is easy to spot street food vendors; where there are churches, schools, recreational parks, or jeepney terminals, you will also see kiosks, makeshift stalls, or food carts. In suburbs, you will see vendors or hawkers with their bicycles or push carts almost everywhere. Street food is a way of life for many people in this part of the globe. It is a source of income for many Filipino families—some vendors testified that their street food businesses enable them to send their children to school. For students and working adults looking for inexpensive meal, street food satisfy them for just half-the price of a meal in any popular fast-food restaurant.

Instead of dining in a restaurant for an authentic Filipino dish, why not go out in the street and have a quick bite. There is nothing more authentic than those food in the streets—untouched with the modern culinary flair. You will not only get to enjoy the food, but you get to join the locals who are eating with much gusto. Let you save couple of dollars too. In fact, with just $2 USD you’ll get home stuffed. Sanitation can be a bit off though. However, if you are up to the challenge, then prepare your taste buds for a wonderful street food adventure.

Banana Cue

Deep-friend Saba (banana) that is coated in caramelized brown sugar and skewered in bamboo stick. It is best to eat it while hot.

more banana-q love

Banana Cue by supafly, on Flickr

Fish balls, squid balls and chicken balls

Some of the delicious deep-fried balls you can find in the streets. Fish balls are made of finely pulverized fish meats. It is usually flat in shape. Squid balls and chicken balls are some of its recent variation. Typically, the balls are eaten by dunking it into your preferred sauce: spicy vinegar, sweet and sour sauce, or sweet gravy.

Kikiam

A Filipino version of the Chinese quekiam; made of ground pork and vegetables wrapped in bean curd sheets. It is deep-fried to perfection and served with your choice of sauce.

siomai and kikiam

siomai and kikiam by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Kwek kwek and tokneneng

Hard-boiled eggs dipped in orangey batter and fried until crispy. Kwek kwek use quail eggs while Tokneneng use chicken eggs.

squid balls and tokneneng

squid balls and tokneneng by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Siomai

Steamed dumplings, originally a Chinese dim sum, made with pork, beef, or shrimp. For just 25 pesos (57 cents USD) or less, don’t expect it to taste like those in the Dim sum house or restaurant.

Taho

Soybean snack with sweet syrup and tapioca pearls.

Taho

Taho – Source: Wikipedia

Arroz caldo and goto

Rice porridge similar to Chinese congee with ginger and some herbs. Arroz caldo has chicken and egg while goto has beef tripe.

Filipino Arroz Caldo

Filipino Arroz Caldo on Wikipedia

Batchoy

Noodle soup with pork innards or chicken meat, pork cracklings and vegetables

Batchoy

Batchoy on Wikipedia

Chicharon

Filipino cracklings made from different parts of the chicken and pig, seasoned, and deep-fried. These include chicken skin (crispy chicken skin), chicharong baboy (cracklings from pork rind), chicharong bituka (crispy, deep-fried chicken and pork intestines), and chicharong bulaklak (cracklings from pork omentum).

Barbecue

Marinated chicken and pork skewered and grilled over hot charcoal. Other grilled food includes adidas (chicken feet), betamax (dried chicken or pork blood), helmet (chicken head), isaw (chicken intestines), and pwet ng manok (chicken ass)

Isaw

Isaw by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Halo-halo

A Filipino dessert made with a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and assorted ingredients like beans, macapuno, jackfruit, gulaman, tapioca pearls, sweet potato, corn, and nata de coco. It is then topped with leche flan or purple yam. Halo-halo in restaurants would typically include a scoop of icecream on it.

Calamares

Deep-fried breaded squid rings

Kakanin

This is a Filipino term for a variety of rice recipes. Some of the popular kakanin you will see in the streets are:

Puto: Rice cakes that comes in variety of colors, sometimes topped with cheese
Suman: Steamed glutinous rice, wrapped in banana or coconut leaves
Bibingka: Glutinous rice grilled in a clay pot
Palitaw: Sticky snack made from glutinous rice, served with sesame seeds and grated coconut
Sapin-sapin: Colorful, layered rice cake made from glutinous rice, topped with grated coconut or toasted coconut milk curd
Biko: Dark sweet glutinous rice cake
Maja blanca: Cocounut cake

kakanin variety

kakanin variety by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Day-old Chicks

This is literally a one-day-old male chicks. They are deep-fried, served with spicy vinegar and eaten whole.

Balut

Saving the best for last is the balut. It is a hard-boiled three-week old duck egg, high in protein, and believed to be aphrodisiac. It is very notorious because of how it look, with its nearly-formed embryo. The proper way of eating balut is to suck the amniotic fluid first before peel it off to eat the chick and the yolk.

Balut

Balut by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

There is no glamour eating street foods, but why seek for glamour when you want fun and adventure. Your palate may not be the same again once you have tasted the Filipino street foods. As double-dipping is very common especially for fish balls, a little piece of safety advice: request for a separate plastic cup instead for your choice of dip. Vendors usually keep a separate bottle for their sauces. Also, be watchful on how vendors prepare and cook their food.

73 Comments

  1. Micamyx|Senyorita on October 25, 2011 at 8:33 am

    That Batchoy made me hungry!

  2. Micamyx|Senyorita on October 25, 2011 at 9:33 am

    That Batchoy made me hungry!

  3. caryl estrosas on October 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I love batchoy! Taste wonderful.  It’s perfect during a cold or rainy weather.

  4. caryl estrosas on October 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I love batchoy! Taste wonderful.  It’s perfect during a cold or rainy weather.

  5. NLM on October 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    LOVE street food, although sometimes it turns out to be a mistake, lol.  To support vendors like these, you might want to go to kiva.org, where you can make tiny loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world–a little help goes a long way.  I’ve made over 120 loans and have not lost a single penny!

    • caryl estrosas on October 26, 2011 at 4:52 am

      Wow! This is great! Let me check this out and share it! Thank you!

  6. NLM on October 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    LOVE street food, although sometimes it turns out to be a mistake, lol.  To support vendors like these, you might want to go to kiva.org, where you can make tiny loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world–a little help goes a long way.  I’ve made over 120 loans and have not lost a single penny!

    • caryl estrosas on October 26, 2011 at 5:52 am

      Wow! This is great! Let me check this out and share it! Thank you!

  7. qiranger on October 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Got to love Balut!

    • caryl estrosas on October 26, 2011 at 4:51 am

      Looks can be very deceiving. You’ll be amazed on how great it taste! 🙂

  8. qiranger on October 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Got to love Balut!

    • caryl estrosas on October 26, 2011 at 5:51 am

      Looks can be very deceiving. You’ll be amazed on how great it taste! 🙂

  9. Dean Wickham on October 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I love street food and some of those dishes look delicious. There’s no way that I could ever eat balut though…I couldn’t physically put it in my mouth.

    • caryl estrosas on October 26, 2011 at 4:57 am

      LOL! Balut ranked #1 as the most terrifying food in the world in cracked (dot) com, I can’t blame you.

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 5:04 am

      It’s branded to be one of the most terrifying food in the world — can’t blame you. It may look terrifying but the taste will tell you otherwise 🙂 convinced? LOL

  10. Dean Wickham on October 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I love street food and some of those dishes look delicious. There’s no way that I could ever eat balut though…I couldn’t physically put it in my mouth.

    • caryl estrosas on October 26, 2011 at 5:57 am

      LOL! Balut ranked #1 as the most terrifying food in the world in cracked (dot) com, I can’t blame you.

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 6:04 am

      It’s branded to be one of the most terrifying food in the world — can’t blame you. It may look terrifying but the taste will tell you otherwise 🙂 convinced? LOL

  11. Elizabeth @Mango_Queen on October 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I love all these street food. Funny how you miss it when you’re so far away from it. This article made me homesick for Manila! Thanks for bringing back so many memories!

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 5:14 am

      ohh… surely, street food is something that would be missed from the Phils. it’s part of the Filipino life–the vendors shouting taho during the morning, hawker shouting balut by night, and everything else. 
      Hope you’ve heard of the canned balut, they’re selling it online. Well, just incase you want one.

  12. Elizabeth @Mango_Queen on October 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I love all these street food. Funny how you miss it when you’re so far away from it. This article made me homesick for Manila! Thanks for bringing back so many memories!

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 6:14 am

      ohh… surely, street food is something that would be missed from the Phils. it’s part of the Filipino life–the vendors shouting taho during the morning, hawker shouting balut by night, and everything else. 
      Hope you’ve heard of the canned balut, they’re selling it online. Well, just incase you want one.

  13. greyweed on October 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks. You have just helped me plan my meals tomorrow. 😀
    I’ll prolly start with some goto for breakfast, taho when I get to work, batchoy or arroz caldo for lunch and then see what else I can nom [which most likely must include betamax, sisig and kwek kwek]. 

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 5:10 am

      Wow! it’s great to be of help 🙂 that will let you save money (wink)
       my younger brother would eat balut and rice for dinner, wierd

  14. greyweed on October 26, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks. You have just helped me plan my meals tomorrow. 😀
    I’ll prolly start with some goto for breakfast, taho when I get to work, batchoy or arroz caldo for lunch and then see what else I can nom [which most likely must include betamax, sisig and kwek kwek]. 

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 6:10 am

      Wow! it’s great to be of help 🙂 that will let you save money (wink)
       my younger brother would eat balut and rice for dinner, wierd

  15. Michael on October 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you so much for this article! Loving the pictures. Balut looks disgusting but I actually kinda liked it. Just tasted like a normal egg to me but with a little crunch sometimes.

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 5:02 am

      Thank you! LOL! the added crunch and the amniotic fluid 🙂 love it! I can eat 2 in one sitting or even more, but need to resist –might have balut overdose 🙂

  16. Michael on October 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you so much for this article! Loving the pictures. Balut looks disgusting but I actually kinda liked it. Just tasted like a normal egg to me but with a little crunch sometimes.

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 6:02 am

      Thank you! LOL! the added crunch and the amniotic fluid 🙂 love it! I can eat 2 in one sitting or even more, but need to resist –might have balut overdose 🙂

  17. 'jrome' on October 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    lestat!… Cheers to your local delicacies! …i beg to add, ang bagong ‘chicken nuggets’ street-style.. Keep it up caryl..

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 5:17 am

      thanks Jrome! hmmm, that should be tried.

  18. 'jrome' on October 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    lestat!… Cheers to your local delicacies! …i beg to add, ang bagong ‘chicken nuggets’ street-style.. Keep it up caryl..

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 6:17 am

      thanks Jrome! hmmm, that should be tried.

  19. Cheryl on October 27, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    The best of Filipino street food has truly been captured in this post! Love the photos! And I agree – while sanitation may be a problem, the flavors are amazing! Who can resist those kwek kwek and fish balls? Yum! But, taho is actually my all-time favorite! Sometimes, that’s the only thing I eat for lunch when I’m in a rush. 

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 4:57 am

      Thank you! Taho isn’t only delicious but healthy too 🙂 Ahh! sanitation is never a problem for me LOL.  I always eat street food whenever I feel like it.

  20. Cheryl on October 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    The best of Filipino street food has truly been captured in this post! Love the photos! And I agree – while sanitation may be a problem, the flavors are amazing! Who can resist those kwek kwek and fish balls? Yum! But, taho is actually my all-time favorite! Sometimes, that’s the only thing I eat for lunch when I’m in a rush. 

    • caryl estrosas on October 28, 2011 at 5:57 am

      Thank you! Taho isn’t only delicious but healthy too 🙂 Ahh! sanitation is never a problem for me LOL.  I always eat street food whenever I feel like it.

  21. Joshua Johnson on October 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    try as I might I could not force myself to eat balut. I mustered my will, tightened my resolve, pursed my lips, slammed my eyes shut and still…something deep inside would not let me suck the embryo from the shell. The smell? no. The thought of the tiny feathers and bones crunching between my molars? close, but no. It was the translucent eyelid cocked in my direction that showed a milky, lifeless eyeball that stopped my gastro curiosities in its tracks.

    • caryl estrosas on October 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks for that very descriptive and detailed comment!  🙂 Balut is undeniably one of the most
      horrible-looking (is that an understatement? LOL) food in this planet. Just the
      look of it can make someone puke. Some locals would offer this as a sort of
      rite of passage for their foreigner friends. As for me who grow up accustomed
      to it, well, I sometimes crave for it 🙂

  22. Joshua Johnson on October 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    try as I might I could not force myself to eat balut. I mustered my will, tightened my resolve, pursed my lips, slammed my eyes shut and still…something deep inside would not let me suck the embryo from the shell. The smell? no. The thought of the tiny feathers and bones crunching between my molars? close, but no. It was the translucent eyelid cocked in my direction that showed a milky, lifeless eyeball that stopped my gastro curiosities in its tracks.

    • caryl estrosas on October 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks for that very descriptive and detailed comment!  🙂 Balut is undeniably one of the most
      horrible-looking (is that an understatement? LOL) food in this planet. Just the
      look of it can make someone puke. Some locals would offer this as a sort of
      rite of passage for their foreigner friends. As for me who grow up accustomed
      to it, well, I sometimes crave for it 🙂

  23. Antoinette B. on November 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Caryl what a great blog post about our foods!  I’ve read sooo many travel blogs of people from all over traveling Southeast Asia, and most always skip the Philippines!  I was born in Cebu but now live in NYC, but boy do I still miss Taho and Banana-Q like crazy!  To this day I’m still so big on street foods, wherever in the world I am.  I know so many people are concerned about the quality/safety of street foods, but funny thing was, I got THE worst food poisoning from a fancy shmancy restaurant in Alexandria, Egypt.

    • caryl estrosas on November 22, 2011 at 11:26 am

      Hi Antoinette! Thank you! 
      Its ironic eh? You got food poisoning from the least expected place 🙂 Hmm, guess we learn something here:  we shouldn’t be quick to judge 🙂

  24. Antoinette B. on November 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Caryl what a great blog post about our foods!  I’ve read sooo many travel blogs of people from all over traveling Southeast Asia, and most always skip the Philippines!  I was born in Cebu but now live in NYC, but boy do I still miss Taho and Banana-Q like crazy!  To this day I’m still so big on street foods, wherever in the world I am.  I know so many people are concerned about the quality/safety of street foods, but funny thing was, I got THE worst food poisoning from a fancy shmancy restaurant in Alexandria, Egypt.

    • caryl estrosas on November 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Antoinette! Thank you! 
      Its ironic eh? You got food poisoning from the least expected place 🙂 Hmm, guess we learn something here:  we shouldn’t be quick to judge 🙂

  25. Gay Aida on November 5, 2011 at 4:25 am

    I’m getting hungry reading your post. LOL. Nothing beats FIlipino foods…so far! Nam-nam!

  26. Gay Aida on November 5, 2011 at 5:25 am

    I’m getting hungry reading your post. LOL. Nothing beats FIlipino foods…so far! Nam-nam!

  27. flymyself on December 3, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I always wanted to try balut, but whenever I see balut, I just dare not put it into my mouth 🙁

    • Michael on December 3, 2011 at 10:07 am

      It does look disgusting so that makes sense. To me, it tasted like a normal egg.

  28. flymyself on December 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I always wanted to try balut, but whenever I see balut, I just dare not put it into my mouth 🙁

    • Michael on December 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

      It does look disgusting so that makes sense. To me, it tasted like a normal egg.

  29. Dinggol Araneta Divinagracia on May 24, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Everytime I pass-by Metro Manila, I always spend a day or two at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. And yes! eat about five to six in-a-row of delicious kag saboroso nga Balut Pateros. Tsalap!! –dinggol.d~~~

  30. Dinggol Araneta Divinagracia on May 24, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Everytime I pass-by Metro Manila, I always spend a day or two at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. And yes! eat about five to six in-a-row of delicious kag saboroso nga Balut Pateros. Tsalap!! –dinggol.d~~~

  31. Ttgas on June 13, 2012 at 2:51 am

    i missed IUD. Adidas . Betamax Helmet. Isaw. Day Old chick.

  32. Ttgas on June 13, 2012 at 3:51 am

    i missed IUD. Adidas . Betamax Helmet. Isaw. Day Old chick.

  33. angel madonna on December 3, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I love street food! Would you know of a restaurant that serves authentic street food? Nothing prepared fancy like Lime 88 in Mandaluyong—just good, plain, old style street food…

    • caryl estrosas on January 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Hi @d1ce361a9556dbdb9bdccb7b47b9d70c:disqus ! I heard about Lime 88 but I haven’t been there. I would really really love to check it out soon when I visit Manila. I could only think of the kiosks at the malls that are serving tokneneng, chicken skin, and among other streed food.

  34. angel madonna on December 3, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I love street food! Would you know of a restaurant that serves authentic street food? Nothing prepared fancy like Lime 88 in Mandaluyong—just good, plain, old style street food…

    • caryl estrosas on January 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Hi @d1ce361a9556dbdb9bdccb7b47b9d70c:disqus ! I heard about Lime 88 but I haven’t been there. I would really really love to check it out soon when I visit Manila. I could only think of the kiosks at the malls that are serving tokneneng, chicken skin, and among other streed food.

  35. travel2rp on January 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

    My wife loves fish balls and all the different sauces from the street vendors. I’m more a fan of barbeque and many of the desserts, like suman and cassava.

    • caryl estrosas on January 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Hi @travel2rp:disqus
      suman have regional variations. I hope you can try them too. In southern region, they have suman mixed with cocoa, and in samar they have moron, which uses grounded glutinous rice with milk and chocolate.

  36. travel2rp on January 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

    My wife loves fish balls and all the different sauces from the street vendors. I’m more a fan of barbeque and many of the desserts, like suman and cassava.

    • caryl estrosas on January 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Hi @travel2rp:disqus
      suman have regional variations. I hope you can try them too. In southern region, they have suman mixed with cocoa, and in samar they have moron, which uses grounded glutinous rice with milk and chocolate.

  37. vishnu kumar on January 7, 2013 at 5:30 am

    delicious…mouth watering…. i never anticipated this much of variety in

    Filipino food… great blog..

  38. vishnu kumar on January 7, 2013 at 5:30 am

    delicious…mouth watering…. i never anticipated this much of variety in

    Filipino food… great blog..

  39. Ceizeley on July 20, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Missing all so these! Wish I’m at home..,

  40. Ceizeley on July 20, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Missing all so these! Wish I’m at home..,

  41. A.L.E.X on August 11, 2013 at 1:15 am

    I WANT SOME NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. A.L.E.X on August 11, 2013 at 1:15 am

    I WANT SOME NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. icarus on August 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Hi, after reading your mouth-watering article, I’m inspired to make an infographic out of it. May I? Of course I’ll definitely credit you 🙂 by the way my favorite street foods are tokneneng, banana cue, taho, fried chicken skin(not chicharon style) and siomai 😀

  44. icarus on August 13, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Hi, after reading your mouth-watering article, I’m inspired to make an infographic out of it. May I? Of course I’ll definitely credit you 🙂 by the way my favorite street foods are tokneneng, banana cue, taho, fried chicken skin(not chicharon style) and siomai 😀

  45. Ciel Phantomhive on July 31, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I wanna go to the Philippines with my Filipino friend one day.

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