Filipino food directly reflects the history of the Philippines. Unlike other countries impacted by a long line of colonialism, the Philippines embraced this part of their history and immersed these cultures into their cuisine to create a mixing bowl of food. This Japanese-Chinese-Malay-European-Latino amalgam is reflected in popular Filipino cuisine such as Lumpia, halo-halo, Dinuguan, Pancit and Adobo. If you’re traveling to the Philippines, here are some of the best restaurants to get that authentic fusion taste.
Toyo Eatery is a modern twist on Filipino food. While it is called an eatery, don’t let its name play down the restaurant’s sophisticated atmosphere. Chef Jordy Navarra redefines Filipino food by creating elegant dishes from local ingredients and Filipino culture. For example, an appetizer called Garden Vegetables, includes all eighteen vegetables named in a popular Filipino children’s song called Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut). For the price of 2,900 pesos, or a little under 60 US dollars, you can order a three-course set meal to try out all these modern flavors for yourself.
An infusion of typical Filipino food and its Spanish roots, the menu at Gallery Vask is inspired by native Philippine products. Chef Chele traveled the country and collected many cultural influences to hear stories from growers, producers, and breeders throughout the Philippines, and he he has incorporated them into his menu. In 2016, Gallery Vask was number 39 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and Chef Chele’s eight-course tasting menu weaves together the country’s history and cuisine. Each dish has a story that you must taste to hear.
Aling Nene’s Barbeque Restaurant
If you’re not looking for a 5-star dining experience, Aling Nene is a great spot to get simple and delicious Filipino food for a good price. Started by a Filipino couple as a small takeout counter, Aling Nene has boomed into a successful international restaurant. Although most customers are locals, the restaurant ships its cuisine to the US, Japan and other Asian countries. Aling Nene takes pride in its affordable homemade Filipino cuisine and is a great pick for a simple local restaurant.
Coffee by day, cocktails by night, the Curator is a coffee shop hidden in a wine bar. If you’re looking for a place to relax with a strong coffee after a long day of working or touring, this café is your spot. Referenced by many on Trip Advisor, Zomato, and other blogs as the best coffee in the area, the Curator provides a relaxing atmosphere in which to relax and unwind. Later in the night, you can even stop by for a cocktail when the café turns into a speakeasy bar.
Dampa Seafood Market
You can’t leave the Philippines without trying some of its seafood. Dampa Seafood Market provides its customers with a uniquely delicious experience. Instead of sitting down and ordering from your seat, customers browse through the catch of the day – to include fish, shrimp, crab, lobsters and squid. When you find what you like, you simply point it out, pay the vendor, and bring the seafood to your choice of restaurant nearby. Once there, the restaurant will cook your raw seafood in any way you’d like. Dampa, which means “kubo” or the traditional Filipino hut made from coconut leaves and bamboo, gives you an authentic experience where you can see, smell, and taste the flavors of the sea.