Foreign delicacies, Filipino dishes

Asia is a vast continent, filled with different people, histories, cultures, languages, and of course, food. Back in the day, continents used to be closer — travels were restricted to nearby lands, and we ended up learning a thing or two from our neighbors. This exchange of cultures between nearby countries is something still noticeable today — different languages sometimes sound alike, the architecture of buildings can look surprisingly similar, and more often than not, the food can look and taste alike.

We hope you’re hungry, because we’re taking a closer look at the foreign delicacies of our Asian neighbors and putting them side by side with some of our most recognizable local dishes.

beef mami_chinese noodles

The dish: Chinese beef noodle soup

In the Philippines: Pinoy beef mami

The Chinese have highly influenced us with their food, and with Binondo just a few kilometers away from the heart of Manila, it’s a short ride for anyone looking to get their Chinese food fix. For centuries, the Chinese have given us a taste of what their food has to offer, and we have done the same.

The beef noodle soup you see on Chinese restaurant menus is sort of like your usual “pares mamihan” beef mami. It’s made with egg noodles, beef broth and chunks, some leafy green vegetables, chives, and garlic. What differentiates the two is that the Pinoy version usually has slices of boiled egg, while the beef noodle soup is perfect with just the vegetables and beef chunks, with a bit of a spicy kick. Whichever version you prefer, there’s no doubt this is the perfect dish for a chilly, rainy day at home.

pad thai_Palabok

The dish: Pad thai

In the Philippines: Pancit palabok

If you walk around the streets of Thailand, you’ll notice vendors ready with their carts piled high with noodles and meats. If you approached one, you might be tempted to order a dish of pad thai, commonly served as street food in the country. Pad thai is a noodle dish composed of different meats (either chicken, shrimp, pork, or all three), with tofu, bean sprouts, toasted garlic, eggs, chives, fish sauce, and chili peppers. Sound familiar? Its Filipino counterpart is pancit palabok.

Apart from being the thing you look for in all potluck parties, pancit palabok is a dish composed of noodles topped with an orange sauce made from shrimp, garnished with eggs, chives, and chicharon. Pad thai is all the aforementioned ingredients, stir fried.


The dish: Hong Kong street food

In the Philippines: Pinoy street food

Talk to anyone whose ever been to Hong Kong, and they’ll all tell you one thing in common: Hong Kong street food is absolutely delicious. Oh, and it’s almost everywhere. They even have markets that have kiosks upon kiosks that serve all things grilled or fried.

Hong Kong is known for their different meats on sticks, not too different from the fishballs and squidballs you see out on the streets of Manila. These may be the perfect snack when you’re on a budget, and the street vendors in Hong Kong offer a wide variety. They even offer some things you may have considered distinctly Filipino, like grilled hotdogs, isaw, and pork barbeque. What seems to be missing — or at least, may not be that common — is the comfort food kikiam, although it may just be a matter of time.


The dish: Tom Yum Goong

In the Philippines: Sinigang

Tom yum goong landed on the eighth spot in a list compiled by CNN heralded as the 50 best foods in the world. With a sour, spicy, salty, and sweet taste that awakens the palate, there is no wonder that tom yum goong has gone far beyond its humble beginnings in Thailand.

The Philippines, however, has its own favorite soup, namely sinigang. Instead of a lemongrass and lime base, the hallmark Filipino dish relies on tamarind for its sour taste. While tom yum goong is mostly paired with shrimp, sinigang can be combined with fish, shrimp, or pork. Nonetheless, both soups transcend social class and status in their respective countries.

Ice Kacang_halohalo

The dish: Ais Kacang

In the Philippines: Halo-Halo

In countries with temperatures just as hot as the Philippines, an iced dessert is a must. Thus, Malaysians crafted the ais kacang, which has been adopted by Singaporeans and Bruneians alike. Ais kacang is mostly an ice and colored syrup concoction, topped with beans, corn, grass jelly, milk, and sometimes, ice cream.

Up in the northeast, the Philippines boasts its own iced treat, halo-halo. From the noisy fast food halls to the opulent walls of The Peninsula Manila, halo-halo is revered nationwide as a dessert choice. Its mixture of jellies, fruits, beans, and ice cream ensure that no flavored syrup is required for people to enjoy it.


The dish: Saag

In the Philippines: Laing

To the foreigner, Indian cuisine can look like it consists purely of various colors of curries, basmati rice, and naan bread. This is not always the case, though, as saag, or green leafy vegetables, usually spinach, mixed with yogurt and garam masala, makes for a satisfying, healthy, and non-spicy Indian meal. The appearance may not exactly entice you to gobble the dish down like a piece of chicken tandoori, but the taste is well worth it, especially when mixed with paneer, or fresh Indian cheese.

Hailing from the Bicol Region but loved by all Filipinos is laing, a coconut-curry based dish with taro leaves. In an apparent switch of tastes, laing is the spicy one between the two, although both are equally delicious.


Filipinos all over the world might miss the comforts of home, but they can definitely make do with the foreign counterparts to some of our local delicacies. If you’re going abroad and are looking for a taste of home, these foreign dishes are definitely worth a shot, especially in places where Jollibee has yet to set up shop.

Stephanie Tan

By Stephanie Tan

Audrey Giongco

By Audrey Giongco

7 replies on “Foreign delicacies, Filipino dishes”


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