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Food & Dining in Philippines


Unlike a lot of Asian cooking, Filipino cuisine is distinguished by its moderate use of spices. American, Chinese, Japanese, Malay and Spanish influences have all left their mark in a subtle blending of cultures and flavours. All the regional dishes are available in Manila’s excellent restaurants, which, like the restaurants of all the main towns, offer a varied cuisine. For the less adventurous, there are also European-style restaurants and American fast food. Restaurants are generally informal, with table service. Rice is a staple of Filipino cuisine. Fruit is plentiful with mangoes, papayas, bananas, chicos, lanzones, guavas and rambutans. Philippine preserves like atsara (a chutney-like vegetable preserve) and numerous native desserts such as pili nut brittle bangus (a crunchy sweet made with the luscious pili nuts found only in the Bicol region) can be purchased in local markets.

As with the rest of Southeast Asia, rice is the staple food of the Philippines. Some areas in the Visayas prefer corn but elsewhere Filipinos would generally have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Places to Dine in Manila

Ermita and Malate

If you are in Ermita and Malate, start your search at the junction of Padre Faura Street and M. Adriatico Street with Kashmir Restaurant which serves delectable Indian curries. From here to Nakpil Street and Remedios Circle, the entire length of M. Adriatico is lined with eateries. On the corner of Pedro Gil Street stands Robinson's Place, which is packed with dining and drinking possibilities, including the mall's own Food Court where you can feast inexpensively in cool and comfortable surroundings.

Nakpil Street, formerly a wealthy residential neighbourhood, abounds with houses and apartment buildings that have been converted into bars and restaurants. More than just purveyors of food, these act as trend setters of style. Matina, a restaurant cum art gallery, introduces you to imaginative fusion cuisine. Sala offers contemporary European food in a very stylish setting. People's Palace features tasty Thai food and tasteful minimalist décor. Casa Armas draws in discriminating diners with its black paella and other Spanish specialities. Episode Café and a dozen other places lure the young sophisticates with a thematic décor and the added attraction of live music, shows or dancing.

Another string of chic eateries can be found at the crossing of Nakpil and Maria Orosa Street: Pepe & Pilar (Filipino with a modern twist), Garlic Rose (everything is seasoned with the medicinal bulb), Café Breton (coffee and crepes) and Batavia (novel varieties of coffee, tea and cakes).

Around Remedios Circle, which is just a couple of blocks south of Nakpil, the creations of Larry Cruz, arguably Manila's most successful restaurateur, predominate, each with a theme of its own. Café Adriatico is known for Spanish-based Filipino food, while the other Café Adriatico 1900 is known for refined ambiance. Café Havana is notorious for its Cuban cooking and a Hemingway-inspired cigar room, and Bistro Remedios for regional Filipino delicacies.

Guernicas (traditional Spanish food), The Red Crab (crabs and steaks), and the delightfully naughty Kink Cakes are also in the vicinity.

Around the corner, on A. Mabini Street, you will find a different set of places altogether, most notably the Republic of Malate, where contemporary Chinese cuisine is served at its Good Earth Tea Room.

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