Growing up in the Philippines means eating street food sold from the vendors near your school or place of work. When it was time for me to move abroad, it was so hard to find these foods and looking at your Facebook friends’ photo just makes you envy and drool over these treats that you couldn’t find elsewhere unless within a Filipino community party- but still very rare. Here are 23 of my favorite out of a ton of delicious street foods we have. If you think I am missing one, feel free to add some on the comments below and it will be updated in the blog 🙂
- “Mangga at bagoong alamang” or Green Mango and krill sauce. This is hands down my favorite!! Just looking at a photo of it makes my mouth drool. The sour crunchy green mango is complimented by the salty krill sauce. The mango is cut in different ways. Some vendors cut the manggo in half and place it in a barbecue stick soaked in water vinegar and adds the krill sauce in the middle when someone is ready to buy it. Others cut it in strips and place them in a small transparent plastic, add salt, vinegar,and chili or just krill. You can see the vendor peeling manggo like a pro in their stands to show that the mango is fresh.
2. “Singkamas or White turnips, Santol, and Guava. I always follow my “mangga” with either a singkamas or a guava especially when there is a long stagnant queue of my jeepney ride home. I liked adding the chili powder and salt mix then the suka (vinegar) mix to have that perfect taste. My school uniform sometimes gets trickled with”suka” (vinegar) when I am still eating inside the jeepney. Santol was so-so for me. You were lucky if you get the sweet one instead of the dry bitter type. I was not good at choosing the right santol. If you know how, share in the comments below 🙂
3. “Lumpiang gulay at Suka” or Fried Filipino Vegetable Roll accompanied by Vinegar sauce. This is very handy and pocket friendly. I bought this before going to work just in case I don’t have an ample amount of break, I can easily munch on these. Less messy street food and delicious either cool or warm. It is very affordable too.Most vegetable ingredients in this wrap is- carrots, potato, turnips, bean sprouts, green beans, onions and garlic. Some vendors use thick spring roll wraps and some are thin. I prefer the thin wraps because they contain more fillings and are less greasier. The wider the better. And the moire transparent and softer, the better. This means there is a lot in there.
4. “Toron/Turon with Lanka” or fried Banana roll with jackfruit fillings. Turon is not originally Filipino but we gave it a twist by adding fruits into it. There is the ordinary toron and there is toron wih lanka (which is way better). Toron is basically banana and lanka is added in the middle of the banana before covering it with a spring roll wrap. The lanka makes it smell good and taste even better.
5. “Banana Q, Kamote Q, and Carioca/Karyoka” or Sweetened Banana, Sweet Potato, Rice Balls in a stick. I placed these three in one number because these three are most of the time beside each other displayed in the vendor’s stand. They are coated with brown sugar and fried in oil then placed on a barbecue stick. One stick contains 2-3 pieces. I remember one stick would cost you around p2-5 but now I guess it is more expensive. Bananacue is native banana and sugar. Native banana is used more often because it is softer and taste much better. The ordinary banana can be used also but the sugar would not mold to it nicely. Kamotecue yields a more crispy taste. Karyoka tastes way better if there is more sugar as the sticky rice would taste very plain without it.
6. “Isaw” or Grilled Chicken Intestines. One of my favorite. The rubbery texture make it so addicting. Some vendors brush it up with sauce to make it darker before grilling it. Some just grill it as is. Either technique, I find it both delicious. A good vendor will clean the intestine well before grilling it. The sauce for this is typically the same 3 types of sauce used with fishball and kikiam. These three sauces to choose from are- the vinegar mix, sweet sauce, and the spicy sauce. I like to mix the three, but that’s just weird ol’ me. I can finish 6 sticks quickly! How about you? haha.
7. “Balut” or Duck fetus. The most grossly looking filipino street food for most foreigners. I remember my mom teaching me to eat this as a kid. If you know where the fluid part is, make a small whole and drink the yummy soup until it is almost dry. Continually peal till you see the duck fetus. My mom always said, “close your eyes and slurp it like jelly” haha. It does help to slurp it quickly. Then eat the remaining hard white part at the end. My favorite is definitely the soup. You can spot the Balut vendor either early in the morning or evenings with a basket of eggs on hand wrapped with cloth to keep it warm. Most of the time Balut vendors carry along some tiny packs of Chicharon to sell to you along with the balut.
8. “Tokneneng or Kwek-kwek” or fried battered egg (either quail egg or regular chicken egg). Such great memories of this. My neighbor makes the perfect batter for this. It is pretty pricey for the size but it is darn delish. I was only aware of “tokneneng” at first but when I traveled to the lowlands, I found out there is also a “toknanay” or the bigger egg/ mother egg. I was amused by our culture of witty humor. I wonder what a toktatay and toklolo would look like haha.
9. “Chicharon Bituka” or Pork intestine cracklings. I think I am more fond with this than the typical Chicaron because it has more flavor to it. I do not know how to describe but there is a creamier goodness to it beneath the crunchy layer that makes it better than chips.
10. “Dynamite Lumpia” or Green Finger Chili wrap with cheese. This is fairly new, at least from my experience. I first had this back in 2014 but maybe it has been circulating for a while. Correct me if I am wrong tho. It is really addicting and should be eaten best along with a cold drink. Some cook it with a lumpia wrap and some with batter. The one with batter tastes way better for me. It is a green finger chili cut on one side and stuffed with cheese melt then prepared with a wrap or batter. I did an attempt on this and it went pretty well. I will update the blog soon for the recipe.
11. Fishball and Kikiam with vinegar sauce. Fishball and Kikiam are found in many Chinese stores. Again, it is not originally Filipino but the sauce is definitely our own recipe. The sauce is a winner. A good vendor has a jar of vinegar soaked with fresh green and red chili, diced onions, garlic, and pepper. “Sukang Iloko” or Ilocos Vinegar has a stronger punch than the regular vinegar.
12. “Odocs” or One-day old chick. Literally it is a baby chick.
13. “Dirty Ice cream”. This is very Filipino. I don’t know why they call it “dirty” when it doesn’t look so or taste so. I think this is even a fancy street food with that fancy vintage looking cart that manong tindero pushes around.
14. “Snow cream”. Easy to make. We couldn’t really claim it as originally ours but it was definitely one of the street foods/drinks I grew up with. Its crushed ice with milk and chocolate syrup blended perfectly. This was the “it” drink as a kid. I guess now kids prefer bubble tea and shakes instead.
15.”Betamax” or pork/chicken blood blocks in a stick. When I first tasted this as a kid, none of my cousins told me what it is. They just giggled. That signaled to me that maybe it was something really unnatural to eat but “Aling Tindera” or the lady vendor said, “Just think of it as Chicken Choco”.
16. “Adidas” or Chicken feet on a stick. You see this most often in Chinese restaurants but has become a common street food for Filipinos and other Asians. It is really brilliant whoever came up with the name. I remember asking my dad for new shoes and he said “Ok. I will buy you Adidas” with a naughty grin on his face and “How many do you want?” while trying not to laugh. He brought me to a nearby vendor and there… I got an “Adidas”.
17. Finger Sticks aka Cheese sticks. Again, not originally Filipino but we made our own version as thinner and economical. Instead of mozarella cheese, we use quickmelt eden cheese. Who could never forget this. The cheapest snack. It was P1.00 per piece back in my day. You know someone was selling cheese sticks inside the classroom when there is a symphony of farts lurking around haha.
18. “Binatog” or White corn kernel with coconut. This is the least among the stuff I like here but included it anyway as some really do like it a lot.
19. “Adobong Mani” or toasted peanuts. Yes. When peanut gets so addicting because of the toasted garlic and salt that came with it. This huge rack of toasted peanuts and the vendor brings out his miniature beer mug to scoop and measure the nuts he will place in the tiny brown bag he will give you.
20. Lapaz Batchoy or Noodle Soup with fresh egg and Chicharon. I remember manong with his humongus “kalan” or pot making the broth of the soup as he served us quickly the Lapaz batchoy outside our review center. The preparation of the broth of the soup is the key to giving its distinct taste. The adding of chicharon and fresh egg makes the soup bodied, full, and perfect. Origin of this delicious soup is in La Paz, Iloilo City in the Visayas Region of the Philippines.
21. Fresh Buko drink or Fresh Coconut Drink. One of the best things I miss from our motherland and the healthiest on this list. Nothing beats Philippine Buko! I get a fresh buko outside our home in the Philippines every Saturday from a local buko seller with his kariton. When I hear him shout “Buko, Buko” I make sure to rush down and take 6 pieces for the family. Not only you get a fresh buko drink, you get to eat the soft buko meat inside afterwards or make buko salad out of it. We always had this ritual of buying buko at least once a week because of it’s health benefits.
22.”Halo-Halo” or Mix-mix (Just kidding). If anyone knows the english translation of Halo-Halo, please help me out and comment below haha. Halo-halo is originally a street food but now has been introduced in restaurants across the Philippines. It is a mix of crushed ice, evaporated milk, beans, nata de coco or coconut gel, lanka or jackfruit, ube jam or taro jam, leche flan or creme caramel, coconut meat, yellow corn, and syrup/sugar. Most of the time it is a summer dessert but I love eating it any season.
23. Taho or Silk Tofu with bubble and syrup. The best alarm clock in the morning is manong Taho. They would echo “Taho, Taho” around 5-6am in the morning that is heard throughout the neighborhood. Freshly cooked, hot silky tofu awaits you at your door. There is the generic taho ( thats the one with plain syrup) but there are other flavors that are available now like strawberry, in Baguio. What I like about the strawberry taho is that they put strawberry chunks in it, making it yummier. I always ask manong taho toadd more bubbles/ sago for me especially because I am his “all-time-suki” ( regular buyer).
And that’ s it folks! 23 Filipino Street foods that keeps our appetite going. If you think our list is short, comment below and we will update this blog. If you have additional info or trivia about each food, do share. 🙂
*photos belong to the instagram users mentioned.