Filipinos love food. All life’s milestones and even downfalls are usually shared over a platter of authentic Filipino dishes—the reason why Filipinos have explored every way possible to prepare delicious cuisines through inexpensive ingredients.
If you are a wanderer wanting a taste of the Filipino culture, devouring Filipino foods is a good start, and don’t be anxious since you can all try everything without breaking the bank.
Here are a few of the cheapest but tasty foods you can try in Manila.
Adobo is the country’s unofficial viand perfect when eaten with rice. It can be made of pork or chicken meat marinated in spices like soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onion, and pepper. The tanginess and umami taste of the dish captures travelers’ taste buds when trying adobo for the first time.
You can find the cheapest adobo in street markets of Manila for as low as $2, rice included.
Who would’ve thought that a serving of this $2 goodness is the top-rated soup in the world? Taste Atlas, an international website, recently released the list of best vegetable soups globally, and the Philippines’ sinigang rose from the hundreds of dishes worldwide.
Sinigang’s trademark is its sour taste from tamarind powder seasoning in the Philippines. The soup can be made using pork, beef, fish, or shrimp topped with eggplant, radish, spinach, and string beans.
The cheapest sinigang is also sold along with the street markets of Manila.
Since rice is a staple in the country and Manila locals are always busy with work, people came up with a dish perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The name is derived from the dishes: sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg).
Silog is served and named depending on your choice of viand. For instance, if you want a silog with ham in it, you’ll order the food as “hamsilog,” and if you wish it partnered with a hotdog, you’ll order the food as “hotsilog.”
Fancy restaurants and hotels also offer silog, but you can taste this dish for as low as $2 along the streets of Manila.
Balut is not for everyone. Even other Filipinos are despising eating balut, but it’s been part of the Filipino culture. Balut is a steamed fertilized duck’s egg incubated for 14-21 days.
Balut’s soup and yolk are tasty, and the challenge is on how you’ll devour the baby duck. Some partner it with vinegar or salt to diminish the hairy texture of the duck. Balut is often sold at night by walking street vendors at less than a dollar.
Fried and Grilled Street foods
Street foods are rampant in the corners of Manila, the comfort food of cab drivers, students, workers, and even tourists. Typical street food stalls have a large stainless wok with fried goodness like fish balls, squid balls, and kwek-kwek. Kwek-Kwek is boiled quail egg coated in orange batter.
Manila is also teeming with carinderias, grilling pork, fish, and chicken barbecues. Filipinos also make use of the pig and chicken’s internal organs and include them for grilling. Some of the exotic grilled Filipino foods you can try are Betamax (made of pig’s blood) and Isaw (made of pig or chicken’s intestine).
Pancit is present in every restaurant, carinderia, and household in Manila. It is a noodle dish stir-fried with heaps of vegetables, pork, or chicken meat with a hint of soy sauce. The Philippines has around 24 Pancit dishes, but the most common in Manila is Pancit Bihon and Pancit Canton.
You may also notice that pancit is the official dish during birthdays since Filipinos believe that the long strands of noodles will give the celebrant a long life.
The good thing about Manila is the convenience of tasting the foods at a lower price than cooking them. You can order the cheapest pancit for as low as $1.
When it comes to desserts, halo-halo is one of the cheapest you can get. The name halo-halo translates to mix-mix in English. It is usually available in the streets of Manila during the summer but is served all the time in restaurants and hotels.
Halo-halo combines shaved ice, beans, gelatin, banana, coconut, rice flakes, taro, ripe jackfruit, and milk. Before you eat the halo-halo, you need to mix it religiously. Combining all the ingredients properly is the secret to tasty halo-halo.
Jollibee is not a dish but deserves to be on the list of food is the topic. Jollibee is the counterpart of McDonald’s, which is very known to locals. In fact, you can find a Jollibee in every city of Manila – the reason why McDonald’s struggles in the Philippines.
Jollibee offers international dishes with a touch of Filipino taste like sweet spaghetti, halo-halo, tapsilog, and more. Price varies, but you can have a meal of rice, viand, and drinks for around $3.