Despite traffic, what I appreciate in Metro Manila is the abundance of things to do and variety of food to eat.
I have traveled in different provinces and despite fresh food and fresh air, I cannot simply find international cuisines immediately unless I’m in a tourist area.
I also used to think international dishes are very expensive, apparently, while roaming Metro Manila, I discovered some hidden gems that I’m eager to showcase for the lifehackers out there who wants to get value for their money.
Here’s some of them, hope you get to visit some of the food stalls that I will feature here. Most of them are just hole in the wall and since they are a small business, have no advertising budget despite their delicious cuisine.
Feel free to check them out.
Vietnamese food. Spotted at Jam & Viet Vietnamese Cuisine, Cash and Carry Makati
I’d travel many times in Vietnam just for food.
I LoooOOove their food. I have Vietnamese friends whom I have known for many years and they are great cooks. Even my alpha female friend who owns a successful company knows how to whip a traditional cuisine. That’s why I smirk when I meet women here who don’t know how to cook and they say it with pride like it’s some kind of a status symbol. Eww.
Korean food. Spotted in Kim N Chi, Robinsons Manila Food court
I first tasted Korean food when I was in Tagaytay last 2004-2005 in a 6 month long term retreat because I lived with Koreans and other international young people.
Chapchae is made of glass noodles, similar to our pancit bihon guisado using glass noodles but a slight different taste. It’s only 85 pesos at Kim N Chi in Robinsons Manila.
Caveat, sometimes the chap chae is too oily.
There are other Korean restaurants in Metro Manila, I just highlighted my cheapest yet delicious find..
Indian food. Spotted at Bollywood treats in Century City Mall, Makati.
Unlike in Malaysia where Indian food is very affordable, Indian dishes here in the Philippines are considered high end. There’s also not a lot of Indian restaurants around here because well, Filipinos are not really into super spicy food.
I lived in India for 7 months so my tastebuds has adopted to eating torkari, biryani, gorum chai, and other Indian dishes.. so when I went back to the Philippines, I have to choose between sacrificing to not eat 3 Jollibee sessions to be able to afford an Indian dish.. and its super difficult when ur craving and you’re in the jungle
So good thing I discovered this Indian stall. I’m surprised they sell Biryani at 95 pesos only (Actually it was 75 last Christmas, inflation is real). Nevertheless, tastebuds are very happy.
My default comfort food for this is always siomai.
You can find siomai in almost every food corner. But if you want a food adventure, Binondo is a good place to hunt some Chinese cuisines since it’s the oldest Chinatown.
For those with high end budget, order a dumpling platter where you can eat different kinds of dumplings in one go. Lately, my Chinese friend let me discovered this very delicious dish, I forgot what it’s called but you can just show this picture to the waiter and they will figure out what it is.
I observed that I’m subconsciously eating more Japanese food whenever I’m in Metro Manila. My favorites are sushi served in buffets. But I also love to eat any Japanese food served with unlimited rice.
Like Chinese food, Japanese food are abundant in Metro Manila. I would like to highlight this food stall instead: Ramen Daruma
I have never been there to be honest but I still would like to recommend small artisan food stalls that have little budget for promotion rather than large chain fastfood and restaurants that have budget for ads anyway.
I don’t really eat out when I want Italian food. I cook these dishes instead. My favorites are PiiIIzZzza and PAaasTaaAA (with matching Italian gestures)
I learned to cook Italian dish when I lived with Italians in Tagaytay last 2004-2005 so I’d rather cook. Feel free to do cooking sessions with me.
To those craving for spaghetti, you can try to look for Filipino spaghetti in Carinderias… It’s a pasta that caters to the local Filipino tastebuds. I highly recommend buying from local food carinderias so you can support local livelihood too.
This is a no brainer. Just go to any city and you’ll be paraded with fastfoods and restaurants that serve French fries and Burgers.
The Filipino tastebuds is very familiar with the American food so it’s like everywhere. It’s very popular that there is no need to promote it.
Middle Eastern Food.
I tried to go to two restaurants that sells middle eastern food..
The first one served delicious Persian food but is high end, so I won’t highlight it here because I’m sure they have marketing budget.
I went to another one but I was not impressed with the service and the food. It has the Arab feel complete with sisha and stuff. I even ordered an exotic sounding food called Shishtawook sandwhich.. but when I saw it, it’s just like a shawarma. I’m still looking for a good restaurant that serves middle eastern food at a valued price. Any leads?
For now, I recommend any shawarma food stall instead.. there are lots of it nationwide, at least you get to have a glimpse of the Middle Eastern cuisine.
Morrocan, Mexican, Thai, and Indonesian and all sorts of food in the Legazpi Sunday Market, Legazpi St, Makati
I was touring my HK/Canadian friend around Makati and I showed her a place that only opens on Sundays.
I know this place since 2005 when I was still a corporate yuppie and living in Makati. It has expanded and options have become plenty when I last visited just a few weeks ago.
The interesting experience at the Sunday market is that you see expats selling their international cuisines. Alternative to the usual Filipino staff, it’s really nice to see the expat owners running their business hands on. That’s a high selling point of the area coz there’s a personal touch to the goods being sold.
Added points to the Palengke style setting. It’s non intimidating unlike the posh Malls. I highly recommend local and foreign tourists to check it out if they want to do food trips.
It only opens on Sundays though.
Food trips should not be missed if you want a perfect vacation in the Philippines especially in Manila, I’m still in the lookout for other international cuisines to promote preferably those that have no marketing budget but offers great service and delicious meals. And surprisingly, I cannot find a Thai restaurant that is value for money too. The 20 baht phad thai in Chiang Mai, Thailand still wins.
Do you have a recommendation? I’d love to feature them here.
Here are recommendations of my fb friends Joshua Berida, Enrico Dee and Cris Gelindon, feel free to check it out:
Joshua Berida: Napoli for Italian.
Enrico Dee: Kasbah for Morrocan in Serendra
Cris Gelindon suggestions:
Swagat Columns Legazpi for Indian food
Nav for modern Thai in Kapitolyo
Zao for Vietnamese
Lee Hak for Korean buffet Shaw blvd
Sofrito for Puerto Rican
Wai Ying Binondo for Chinese
Shangri La finest cuisine at West Triangle
Arroz Ecija Pinoy foods
Alba for Spanish
Behrouz for Persian or K-bab in wack wack