This year during my winter holiday I went to spend a few days in paradise on earth, aka The Philippines. It was hands down my favorite of the holidays I’ve had the opportunity to go on while living in China. It wasn’t planned, I was actually intending on going to Malaysia first but the high air ticket prices pushed me to look for other options. Another great thing about the Philippines was that I didn’t need a visa, Malawians get 30 days free stay in the Philippines. On top of that the RMB is much stronger than the peso, the exchange rate is 1:13. So going there instead was a pretty easy decision to make. I will blog about the holiday later on Soul Canvas, on this blog I just wanna share some of the yummy food I ate during my week long stay there.
On the road…The first day there was spent travelling from the mainland to Boracay island which took way longer than I had anticipated. I thought the meal on the plane would hold me till we got to the island where we’d have dinner, but then what I thought was going to be a 6 hour journey at the most became a 12+ hour journey. Horrific. The only food available on one of the 2 ferry’s we took was noodles. And just my luck they were tiny snack size noodles so I was hungry literally 15 minutes after eating them. I’ll have to say the Chinese instant noodles are way better than these, bigger portions and more flavour.
When trying to save some money, cheap rice meals where the best option. Although the prices seem expensive when you just look at the number, when converted to RMB these meals were very cheap! 100 pesos is equal to 13RMB. That is the average price we spend on cheap single meals in Baoding (though they can sometimes even be as low as 6RMB).
Chicken inasal is one of the Philippines’ best-loved grilled chicken recipes, featuring a marinade of lemongrass, calamansi, salt, pepper and garlic and brushed with achuete (annatto seeds) oil. I just couldn’t get over eating meat and rice with no form of stew or soup, basically something to aid in the swallowing of the food. Everything was so dry. The rice tasted like rice from my country, very different from the Chinese rice I have eaten for the past 2 and a half years.
Apparently pork adobo is often eaten in Filipino households so I had to try it. Basically it is pork belly braised in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and onions. There are many variations of it, made with potatoes, pineapples, or using chicken rather than pork. I love pork and I am a fan of and dish involving pork!The restaurant above is where we had the next meal. A fairly popular restaurant along the main road in Boracay, near station 2.
Fresh lumpia is basically the Filipino version of a spring roll. Made with delicate egg wrapper which contains a savory filling of ubod (the pith of the coconut tree), shrimps, pork, onions and a garlicky sweet sauce. To be honest this didn’t tantalize my taste buds much, the soft gummy egg like texture didn’t sit well with me.
The next meal we had at Dory’s Eatery, a little street side restaurant in Intramuros, Manilla. I can’t remember what exactly the dishes were called but one was a pork chop in a thin sauce that tasted similar to the pork adobo sauce and the other was a Filipino style fish burger patty. Both eaten with some plain rice and costing no more than 100 pesos.
The next meal was had at Hoy Panga! along White Beach in Boracay.Their meat was really well cooked, full of flavor and succulent, but their desert,cassava cake, stole the show. Below, on the left is inihaw na tuna belly (grilled tuna belly) and on the right are grilled pork kebabs.
Though the base of the cassava cake was slightly burnt, the cake was still very very good. I need to get my hands on that cake recipe!
I also had some broth because I wanted something liquid to pour over the rice. I can’t remember the main vegetable in this broth but it was really good.
This dish was had early in the am’s (after having the time of our lives on a Boracay Pub crawl) at a small 24hr BBQ restaurant where we ate with some new friends. It was a tad bit salty but that’s fine given that we had just been on a pub crawl. Similar to the Chinese, the Filippino’s don’t waste anything on an animal. Pork sisig is pork’s cheeks, head and liver which is made into a sizzling dish that is complimented well with a squeeze of lime juice.
The next little treat was courtesy of Franks BBQ stand on the beach in Boracay. While getting a henna tattoo on the beach in the afternoon, we overheard a tour guide telling some tourists they cannot leave Boracay without having a Chori burger. So of course we made it a point to get one, and this burger was so good it dwarfed all the restaurant meals we’d been having. To our dismay, the BBQ stands only appear at night so we’d have to wait all day to get our hands on one. It is a surprisingly simple dish but so so good! Just a fresh soft grilled bread bun, a couple slices of grilled chorizo sausage and a combination of sweet and spicy sauces which is where the magic is. It may be too simple for some people but I couldn’t get enough of it.
Being that Boracay is an island, you’d expect a lot more seafood in this blog post but the meat dishes were more appropriate for my budget. However, during a visit to Puka beach I finally indulged in some seafood, specifically grilled sea bream which was paired with garlic rice. It was good, nothing to write home about though.
A special shout out goes to the flavor rich and creamy fruit shakes of Boracay, made of a combination of fresh fruits and milk. I had a pineapple one at Puka beach that cost 250 pesos, that’s like 2 meals! The stall owner explained that they charge high prices to make up for the cost of transporting their stock to the beach and that as a perk I would get to sit on a deck chair for “free” (if you don’t buy, you can’t sit).
Another mention goes to the fresh buko (coconuts) of Boracay. At only 60-80 pesos they were a nice cheap (and healthy) refreshing drink. And of course, one must always taste the local brew. We befriended some locals and they made sure we consumed a few Red Horse beers (a lager) which I must say has quite a high alcohol content, it’s not for the weak! The last honorable mention goes to Boracay rum which was given liberally to all participants of the Boracay pub crawl. I remember thinking to myself I must buy a bottle to take back to China but a certain pastry shop in White Beach’s D-mall got the better of my wallet on the last day, their banana cake was absolutely heavenly. Unfortunately the rum was impossible to find during the one day I spent in Manila so all I have are good memories. And that sums up my Philippines food adventures! I hope to return there one day to continue my food adventure because they certainly have a lot to offer.