Saturday, March 10, 2007

Street food in the Philippines

Just as I was bloghopping, I found this post of Sidney Snoeck on street food which was timely since I had been planning to blog about the street food we ate the past few days. As he puts it, "food is a window into culture." So here is a sampling of some of the tried and tested street food outlets.

When a friend from China arrived, I took him straight to UP Diliman. The best thing to do of course was eat since the UP campus in Diliman is a haven for street food.

We dropped by Mang Larry's isawan in front of the Kalayaan Residence Hall. Since I was a resident there for a year when I was a freshman, I saw that stand everyday. And that's how I became a fan of isaw. Aside from pork barbeque, the selections of grilled chicken and pork innards, collectively referred to as isaw, include isaw baboy (pork intestine), isaw manok (chicken intestine), tenga ng baboy (pig's ears), goto, botsi, atay (chicken liver), balun-balunan (chicken gizzard), and betamax (pig's blood) among others.

There is another isawan that used to be in front of Ilang-ilang Residence Hall but moved to vacant lot beside the UP Law Center. The main difference is in the sauce since Mang Larry has a sweet brown sauce and spicy vinegar while the other is mostly vinegar-based.

Other selections in UP include the sorbetes, taho, lumpia, banana cue, camote cue, cheese sticks, fish balls, squid balls and kikiam among others. Good thing there was a sorbetes vendor nearby and we got some avocado ice cream. For dinner, we had sisig and rice, and a serving of halo-halo at a street food center in Park 9 along Katipunan.

I've been trying to find hawker centers here in the Philippines just like those in Singapore and Malaysia. And the closest thing we've got is Market! Market! in Fort Bonifacio Global City, just along C5. So after our visit to the Manila American Cemetery, we went straight there.

First thing which caught my eye was the Ilocos empanda stand. We had one each but not too much since we were going to Ilocos anyway to savor the real thing in Batac. Then we had tokneneng (battered, deep-fried quail eggs). The stand also sold day-old chicks and quek quek (battered, deep-fried chicken eggs). I think there was also balut and penoy (hard-boiled duck eggs with and without fetus respectively).

Another stand sold street drinks such as sago't gulaman and buko juice. Shawarma may not be Filipino but it has become a popular local snack that has been Filipinized by adding cheese and sometimes, french fries in it. Then there's the puto bumbong ang bibingka, and turon among many more sweet snacks. The selections there are endless which makes it our local version of a hawker center.

Anyway, there's more food as we go up north.

Dictionary of Philippine street food
I could not find a dictionary of Philippine street food online so I'm starting one here. Please add to the list by commenting below. Help me with the descriptions too. Please take note that this list is for food commonly sold in the streets; or else, we'll have endless possibilities.

  • Abnoy - unhatched incubated duck egg or bugok which is mixed with flour and water and cooked like pancakes
  • Adidas - chicken feet, marinated and grilled or cooked adobo style
  • Arroz caldo - rice porridge or congee cooked with chicken and kasubha; see also Lugaw
  • Atay - grilled chicken liver
  • Baga - pig's or cow's lungs grilled or deep-fried and served with barbeque condiments
  • Balat ng manok - see Chicken skin and Chicharon manok
  • Balun-balunan - grilled chicken gizzard
  • Balut - hard-boiled duck egg with fetus
  • Banana cue - deep-fried saba (banana) covered with caramelized brown sugar
  • Barbeque - marinated pork or chicken pieces grilled on skewers
  • Batchoy - miki noodle soup garnished with pork innards (liver, kidney and heart), chicharon (pork skin cracklings), chicken breast, vegetables and topped with a raw egg; origin traced to La Paz, Iloilo
  • Betamax - curdled chicken or pork blood, cubed and grilled
  • Bibingka - glutinous rice flour pancakes grilled with charcoal above and below in a special clay pot
  • Biko (also Bico) - glutinous rice cake with grated coconut topping
  • Binatog - boiled white corn kernels, sugar, grated coconut and milk
  • Bopis - minced pig's heart and lungs sauteed with garlic and onion and seasoned with laurel, oregano, bell pepper and vinegar
  • Botsi - chicken esophagus, deep-fried or grilled
  • Calamares - deep-fried squid in batter
  • Calamay (also Kalamay) - glutinous rice cakes; varieties all over the country
  • Camote cue - deep-fried camote (sweet potato) covered with caramelized brown sugar
  • Carioca (also Karyoka, Karioka) - deep-fried glutinous rice flour cakes served on skewers
  • Cheese sticks - deep-fried cheese wrapped in lumpia (spring roll) wrapper
  • Chicharon baboy - pork skin cracklings, made from pork rind boiled and seasoned, sun-dried and deep-fried
  • Chicharon bituka - pork or chicken intestine boiled, seasoned and deep-fried
  • Chicharon bulaklak - pork omentum boiled, seasoned and deep-fried
  • Chicharon manok - chicken skin cracklings
  • Chicken balls - balls made with chicken meat, deep fried and served in skewers with a sweet, sour or spicy sauce
  • Chicken skin - chicken skin battered and deep fried
  • Cutchinta - see Kutsinta
  • Day-old chicks - literally day-old chicks deep-fried to a crisp, served with sauce or vinegar
  • Empanada (Batac) - pork longganisa, egg and grated green papaya in a rice flour shell, deep-fried and served with vinegar
  • Fishballs - balls made with fish meat, most often from pollock, deep fried and served in skewers with a sweet, sour or spicy sauce
  • Goto - rice porridge or congee cooked with beef tripe
  • Halo-halo - translated as "a mix of many things" or "an assortment," it is a dessert topped with shaved ice that may contain sweetened saba (banana), camote, macapuno (young coconut), kaong, nata de coco, pinipig (rice crispies), gulaman (agar), sago (tapioca balls), brown and white beans, garbanzos, ube (purple yam), and leche flan (creme brulee), with milk and sugar; Pampanga has three popular versions in Guagua, Arayat and Angeles which may include pastillas, crushed white beans and corn
  • Helmet - grilled chicken head
  • Hepalog (also Toknonong) - hard-boiled duck eggs dipped in orange batter and deep-fried
  • Isaw - collective term for different types of grilled chicken and pork innards; varieties include isaw manok, isaw baboy, atay, goto, botsi, balun-balunan, and tenga ng baboy
  • Isaw baboy - grilled or deep-fried pork intestines on a skewer, served with sweet, sour or spicy sauce
  • Isaw manok (aslo IUD) - grilled or deep-fried chicken intestines on a skewer, served with sweet, sour or spicy sauce; also referred to as IUD because it resembles an intra-uterine device
  • Iskrambol (also Scrambol) - frostees; shaved ice, diced gulaman, sago and condensed milk
  • IUD - see Isaw manok
  • Kakanin - collective term for snacks made with kanin (rice), particularly malagkit (glutinous) rice; varieties include puto, kutsinta, calamay, sapin-sapin, suman, palitaw, biko or sinukmani, and espasol among many others
  • Kalamay - see Calamay
  • Kamote cue - see Camote cue
  • Kikiam - the special ones are made of ground pork and vegetables wrapped in bean curd sheets, deep-fried and served with sweet, sour or spicy sauce; those in the street are seafood-based, usually made of fish meat and cuttlefish
  • Kudil - deep-fried pork skin
  • Kutsinta - steamed bahaw (boiled rice) with lye and brown sugar; has a gelatinous consistency
  • Kwek kwek - see Quek quek
  • Lomi - noodle soup made with thick fresh egg noodles or lomi
  • Longganisa - pork sausage grilled or fried on a skewer
  • Lugaw - rice porridge or congee; varieties include arroz caldo (with chicken and kasubha) and goto (with beef tripe)
  • Lumpia - spring rolls; varieties include lumpiang basa; lumpiang hubad - fresh spring rolls wothout the wrapper; lumpiang prito; lumpiang sariwa - fresh srping rolls; lumpiang shanghai; lumpiang ubod; and turon
  • Mais - boiled sweet corn seasoned with salt, butter or margarine
  • Mais con yelo - sweet corn, milk and sugar topped with shaved ice
  • Mami - noodle soup
  • Manggang hilaw - green mango served with bagoong (shrimp paste)
  • Mani - peanuts either boiled, roasted or deep-fried and seasoned with garlic and salt
  • Maruya - banana fritters
  • Nilupak - mashed kamoteng kahoy (cassava) or kamote (sweet potato) with brown sugar and served with butter or margarine
  • Palitaw - glutinous rice flour pancakes topped with grated young coconut, sugar and roasted sesame seeds
  • Panara - deep-fried crab and grated green papaya empanda sold in Pampanga during Christmas season
  • Pancit - noodles; varieties are batchoy (Iloilo) - see Batchoy; batil patung (Tuguegarao) - local noodles topped with hot dogs, chicharon, ground meat, fried egg, and vegetables; pancit bihon; pancit canton - a kind of pancit guisado flavored with ginger and soy sauce; pancit guisado, pancit habhab (Lucban) - sautéed miki noodles served on and eaten straight from banana leaf sans utensils; pancit lomi - see Lomi; pansit luglog (Pampanga and Tagalog Region) - it has a distinct orange shrimp-achuete sauce and is topped with chicharon, tinapa, wansoy and shrimp; pancit malabon (Malabon) - made with thick rice noodles tossed in shrimp-achuete oil topped with shelled oysters, squid rings, suaje or hipong puti and wansoy; pancit molo (Iloilo) - clear chicken broth with wonton, garlic and crushed chorizo; pancit palabok; pancit puti (Manila); and pancit sotanghon among many others
  • Pandesal (also Pan de sal) - breakfast roll; rounded bread
  • Pares - translated as "pair," means the pairing of rice with beef; beef pares is characterized by very tender meat, usually with a lot of litid (ligaments)
  • Penoy - hard-boiled duck egg without fetus
  • Proven - hard portion of chicken entrails that is either marinated and grilled, battered and fried or cooked adobo style
  • Pusit - squid grilled on skewer
  • Puto - steamed rice cake
  • Puto bumbong - purple glutinous rice snack cooked in a special steamer
  • Quikiam - see Kikiam
  • Quek quek (also Toknanay) - hard boiled chicken eggs dipped in orange batter and deep-fried; also used for quail eggs but some say the correct term for the quail egg version is tokneneng; the balut version is sometimes referred to as hepalog
  • Sapin-sapin - layered glutinous rice and coconut milk cake usually topped with grated coconut and latik (residue from coconut oil extraction); different flavor per layer such as ube (purple yam), macapuno (young coconut), kutsinta and langka (jackfruit)
  • Scrambol - see Iskrambol
  • Sinukmani - see Biko
  • Siomai - steamed pork dumplings
  • Siopao - steamed pork buns
  • Sisig - roasted pig's head, chicken liver, onions and chili, chopped and flavored with calamansi served on a hot metal plate
  • Sorbetes (also Dirty ice cream) - street ice cream made with local fruits and ingredients; common flavors include ube (purple yam), mango, avocado, queso (cheese), chocolate, langka (jackfruit), buko or macapuno (coconut); strawberry is common in Baguio City
  • Squid balls - balls made with squid or cuttlefish meat, deep fried and served in skewers with a sweet, sour or spicy sauce
  • Suman - glutinous rice snack steamed in banana or coconut leaves; varieties include binagol (Leyte) made with glutinous rice, gabi (taro), coconut milk and chocolate; budbod sa kabog (Tanjay, Negros Oriental) which uses millet instead of glutinous rice; 
  • Taho - bean curd snack topped with arnibal (liquefied raw sugar similar to molasses) and sago (tapioca balls)
  • Tenga ng baboy (also Walkman) - marinated pig's ears grilled on skewers; see also Kudil
  • Toknanay - see Quek quek
  • Tokneneng - hard boiled quail eggs dipped in orange batter and deep-fried; also called kwek kwek by others
  • Toknonong - see Hepalog
  • Tupig (also Itemtem) - glutinous rice, grated mature coconut, coconut milk and molasses rolled in banana leaves and grilled; varieties in Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte (Batac) and Isabela
  • Turon - saba (banana) with with sugar and sometimes langka (jackfruit) wrapped in lumpia (spring roll) wrapper and deep-fried
  • Walkman - see Tenga ng Baboy


  1. Shit, now I need to hit the street again to take pictures of the missing street food.

    Is Camaro the field crickets cooked in soy sauce, salt and vinegar not a popular food in Pampanga? ;-)

    And what about the frogs?

  2. Hi Sidney! Camaro and betute are no longer sold in the streets but in specialty restaurants such as Everybody's Cafe. And they are not cheap. Hehe! But you could ask a local to cook for you at home.

  3. Hi Mia, botsi is a type of isaw sold in Mang Larry's store. I'm still finding out what it is. Hehe! Thanks for the additions!

  4. hmmm.. yummy yummy yum-yum.. we call this the "mura-na, madumi pa!" (its not just cheap! its also dirty!) type of feast!

    Sidney, hope to shoot with you sometime. :)

    Ivan, san next trip naten?

  5. Si Alex, nag-aaya ng Batanes this April. Still no plans. And remember Sidney's invitation to the Masbate rodeo. These are two provinces I have yet to visit.

  6. i think botsi is laman loob ng manok. :)

  7. Anonymous19.3.07

    dear fellow ecosocer, maaari mo sigurong idagdag ang carioca o yung kasama ng turon at lumpia sa tray ng mga naglalako sa UP. bilog siya tas malagkit. tatlo sa isang stick tas sampung piso rin siya gaya ng turon. :D chim

  8. @the ice queen, which innard of the chicken in particular? I'll have to ask Mang Larry. Hehe!

    @chim, thanks! I've been trying to find the english term for carioca since this morning. But in the mean time, I'll add it na to the list.

  9. Anonymous19.3.07


  10. Anonymous20.3.07

    Aso -"Dog". Either cooked with the same ingredients as Mechado or Menudo but instead of beef or pork, a dog is used. Best eaten in places where the climate is cold since the meat of dogs are spicy. A lot of foreigners will not like this dish.

    Bayawak -Fried "field lizard".

  11. @bugtups, they do fall into Philippine exotic food such as those we have in Pampanga. But are they commonly sold in the street? It might not fall into street food lalo na you can get jailed for selling dog meat in public.

  12. What's that street dessert that's served with shaved ice and powdered milk called again? I hardly see it now, but it used to be a staple... please also include pandesal with sorbetes... It's a different league on its own. :)

    Segue lang.. I love streetfood! But when my mom found out I was eating it (religiously), she made me go to the doctor for hepa vaccination, and "forbade" me to eat again... of course I only did the former (just to please her).

  13. laman loob- as in yung thing na nakakabit sa liver. have you seen that in wet markets? di ba, yung liver is coonected to something else- yun yon! hehe :D

  14. Anonymous20.3.07

    There was a food blogging event of this topic over at Lasang Pinoy last Oct 2005. Check it out: LP3 - Pinoy Streetfood.

  15. Thanks Charlie! I'll read through it again to see what I've missed.

  16. Anonymous20.3.07

    one more week and I'm gonna be eating them food!! =D

  17. Anonymous20.3.07

    i miz all those food...huhuhu,,miz da pinas!

  18. Anonymous20.3.07

    I checked out your site. It's an awesome chronical of travels! I plant to visit the Philippines one day and may use your guide to help me navigate and appreciate the country. Since I am a single guy, I better be careful or I may fall in love with the Pinay, the country-side, and wind up staying! :)

  19. Anonymous20.3.07

    shocks i miss queck queck and fishballs !

  20. Anonymous22.3.07

    There's this Filipino street food called Scrambol. It is made up of shaved ice, diced gulaman/gelatin, sago and condensed milk. This treat is very popular amongst Filipino kids.

  21. Anonymous23.3.07

    OMG! I knew we have a lot of street food but not this many! No wonder balikbayans have 'weight issues' after a trip home. Imagine having to try all that food in a short period. Kasi even if you cook it at home, it doesn't always taste the same. Great idea to list them down too. So many new ones (like tokneneng!) balikbayans may not be familiar with.

  22. Anonymous26.3.07

    botsi - chicken esophagus, deep fried or grilled

  23. Thank you!!! Finally, we have the definition of botsi. Abnoy pie nalang. Haha!

  24. hi ivan! congrats for winning the best travel blog award! i think 'abnoy' is the unhatched incubated duck's egg (bugok) which is mixed with flour and water and cooked like pancakes. by the way, i would say your travel site would not be complete without your 'personal accounts' from batanes province. do visit the place and i assure you - you'll have no regrets. i come from the place but am here in the US right now. best time to visit is summer...

  25. Thanks for the definition of abnoy. Batanes is definitely on wish list of places to visit. It's just a bit costly which is why I need to save up for it. Since if I'll go, I'd want to visit as many islands as I can. :)

  26. Anonymous11.4.07

    [...] The food addicts can find a more complete list of street foods in Ivan Henares' blog here [...]

  27. This post and now Sidney's about Manila's street foods can be used in our local schools' sociology classes. Great job, Ivan!

    I have recently posted an entry of my childhood street foods and had linked this page of yours.

  28. Anonymous11.4.07

    [...] and Ivan About Town for a comprehensive listing of Manila's street foods. [...]

  29. Aw man, so many stuff i haven't tried yet. :(

  30. Holy molly ! I saw your travel index listing!!

    Looks like this blog will be eating whatever freetime I have. :)

  31. Anonymous5.2.08

    hello ivan! ayus tong ginawa mong dictionary of pinoy street food. ipinapakita lang kung gaano rin tayo ka-malikhain pagdating sa pagluto at pagdevelop ng iba't-ibang uri ng pagkain.

    ang bagong uso naman sa kalye ngayon ay yung calamares (deep fried squid in batter)na nabibili sa halagang 3 for 10.00. mabango habang niluluto at isasaw sa suka para matanggal ang lansa. nagkalat ang mga nagtitinda nito kahit saan!

    hindi ko lang alam bakit mura ang pusit na ito, sabi ng iba galing daw kasing china...

  32. Thanks lalay! I'll add that to the list.

  33. Anonymous1.3.08

    where is the kalamares?? i love kalamares!!

  34. Anonymous13.4.08

    saba con yelo ... much like the mais con yelo except of course intead of mais there's sliced or diced banana cooked in brown sugar ... you add some milk and omg! its so refreshing :)

  35. Anonymous29.5.08

    thanks for the definition btw I used some of your definitions with proper recognition of course and a link to your post.

  36. Hello, I'm looking for the recipe for "authentic" dipping sauces and marinade for street food. Both the sweet and the spicy-vinegary kind. Can somebody ask Mang Larry for me? Tell Mang Larry that I dont plan to go into business and compete with him. It's mainly out of curiosity.

  37. Anonymous9.6.08

    Nice blog you have here. I have lots of images of Philippine Foods, including some street food on my website. Images of Philippine Street Food and more

    There is still so much to photograph.

  38. Anonymous4.7.08

    Hi Ivan! It's really time to rave about our street food. From the province of Quezon, it's very clear that Pancit Habhab is a street food. We also have Panadita. these are small empanada shaped pie but with sweet camote filling. Our Maruya is ground rice galapong mixed with shredded young coconut meat, sugar, baking powder and cooked in pans like hotcakes. Parirutong, viloet rice cooked the same way as maruya. The versatile saba comes to life in Quezon towns as "binanging saging" (inihaw) in barbecue sticks every day in front of churches and outside schools.

  39. Anonymous28.7.08

    Ay Ivan,nakakagutom naman itong listahan mo! at nakakahomesick!
    Idagdag naman natin yung mga inuming pampalamig tulad ng buko, at melon juice at saka yung hiwa hiwang singkamas na inuulaman ng asin na may konting bagoong,haaay, I'm salivating! And bago ko malimutan, yung ukoy pala, yung maliliit na hipon,togue or bean sprouts mixed in batter, salt and pepper, deep fried and eaten with vinegar and garlic as dipping, and what about kornik? yung mais na tuyo, deep fried with garlic and lots of salt! hmmm yumm! Thnaks for the list, I'll check on it every now and then.

  40. Thanks for all those new foods. I'll add them up to the list within the week. Thanks!

  41. Anonymous17.8.08

    wow, great list... i'm planning to do a menu called "manglalako" and then under that, it would say, "homage to philippine street food" it would include balut, chitcharon na balat ng manok, fishballs(of course), buko pie, the list goes on... you forgot ice candy, hopia, tira-tira, sundot kulangot, boiled quail eggs, hotcakes, popcorn with pink caramel coating, champorado, santol, pineapple, cheese curls(i remember when i was a kid, i traded newspaper for this... now, that i look back, it's really unsanitary... hahaha)

    masaganang pagkain!

  42. Anonymous23.9.08

    wow.this is great.ü
    street foods they are, yet they seem so delicious!hahah.:)

  43. Anonymous11.10.08

    Nice blog you have here. I have lots of images of Philippine Foods, including some street food on my website.

  44. Anonymous15.12.08

    Tried the day old chicks at a friends house last night, they were a little dry, but delicious!

  45. Anonymous26.4.09

    Hi ivan! Its my first time to read your blog and i think i'm loving it. Super nkakagutom! Btw, i think u missed the taho on your list. :-)

  46. Ronnie17.5.09

    hey how about TOKWA'T BABOY? yung me toyo at sibuyas na laging terno ng goto or lugaw?

  47. Ronnie17.5.09

    and how about the BULAK ( cotton candy local version ) which is being done by manong in a cart pedaling like a sewing machine?

  48. Ronnie17.5.09

    meron pa pala singkamas with alamang (turnips with salted shrimp paste)

  49. Anonymous22.6.09

    hi sir. i'm doing my thesis about street foods in manila. Thank you so much for posting this. sobrang laking tulong :)

  50. dongskie13.7.09

    sir for the list, i am doing a research about this and your blog really helped me.

    thanks again.

  51. KiBoy8.9.09

    Here's a few from our own in Dumaguete City.. We have tempura (basically, shirmp meat mixed in flour and spices dipped in sweet, sour, or spicy sauce) and orlian the same with tempura, except its chicken this time.. these two are in league with the fish balls and squidballs..

    Then from my trips in mindanao, i came across Buriki (a fried, rice stock shaped into a thin plate drizzled with latik or caramelized coconut) and Niluyang (crushed banana (saba) and kamoteng kahoy cooked with sugar then turned into mini cakes (best served steamed and wrapped in banana leaves))

    well, ill add more when i remember them.. ehehehe

  52. Anonymous4.11.09

    thanks so much for posting this. :D i really have no idea of these street foods and i had to make an article about it.

  53. I think no other country specially in asia has isaw(bbq pork intestines), betamax(bbq square chicken blood), walkman(bbq pork ears)and those street foods are typically Filipino. I'm also a fan of those street food.

  54. there is also this famous place in Cebu, the Larsian Fuente, where they serve your typical pinoy barbeque.

  55. hello po, ask ko lng po kung pde ko po ito gamitin sa thesis namin and kung meron kang mga articles concerning sa street foods .... tnx po :)

  56. I love street food so much especially barbeque and balot those food is only one of my favorite.Anyway,you have a very informative will certainly visit your site more often now.


  57. Anonymous5.9.11

    I needed to write about street foods and I'm thankful I found this blog!

  58. Anonymous1.10.11

    can you consider PALAMIG AND SAGING CON YELO? you can find it anywhere esp during summertime

  59. Elma Moreno14.10.11

    i love filipino street food! even my relatives from the states love to eat here when they come over. :)

  60. The list of "vocab" are pretty interesting! Thanks for the sharing

  61. Anonymous27.1.12

    add the chicken skin


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