There’s more to Philippine cuisine than our beloved adobo and lechon. With 81 provinces of varying topographies, our culinary heritage is as deep and as vast as our oceans — something that the usual Filipino restaurants in Manila barely scratch the surface of. Get to know our country’s cuisine even better and try out these dishes that you can get right in Metro Manila:
Pancit Pusit from Cavite
This beloved dish from Cavite, a province south of Metro Manila, is reminiscent of the Spanish Paella Negra (a squid ink rice dish), but it uses pancit bihon noodles (vermicelli) instead of rice. The strong flavor of squid ink covering the delicate noodles is an interesting combination. Asiong's eatery in Cavite City has this on the menu and will soon be opening a branch in Quezon City, so you need not go far to try this dish.
Hito with buro and mustasa from Pampanga
Breaded and fried catfish tastes better wrapped in a mustard leaf. Dip in Pampanga's signature buro sauce (fermented rice mixed with shrimp or fish) and you get a party in your mouth. Try it out at Apag Marangle in Makati.
Apag Marangle, Space 16 and 17, Park Square lot H, Ayala Center, Makati, tel +632 668-5812, mobile +63925 875 1100
Kinilaw de Oro from Cagayan de Oro
Most people have heard of kinilaw, and many have partaken of this signature Filipino dish that consists of raw fish cooked in vinegar. But the Kinilaw de Oro is definitely not your usual kinilaw, using ingredients unique to Northern Mindanao: suwa (a native lime), tabon-tabon (a brown, sour-sweet fruit that can only be found in that region), and sukang tuba (a mild coconut vinegar). Taste this dish at Patricio's Cevicheria in Taguig.
Patricio's Cevicheria, 28 Bayani Road, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, tel +632 998 7274, mobile +63917 850 8817
Bihod Pasta from Cavite
Fish roe and annatto oil generously slathered over linguine noodles make for a unique east-meets-west pasta dish you definitely have to try. It's served at XO 46 Heritage Bistro, which has branches all over the Metro.
XO 46 Heritage Bistro, 130 Valero street, Salcedo Village, Makati, tel +632 553 6632
Tapuy from Cordillera
Wash all those new flavors down with a sip of alcohol that's not your usual San Miguel Pale. Tapuy is an ancient ceremonial rice wine that is a mainstay in Cordilleran celebrations. Sharp and sweet, it's best served chilled. Try it at Serye Selection, which naturally ferments the Tapuy according to indigenous Cordilleran methods.
Serye Restaurant and Cafe, Quezon Memorial Circle, Diliman, tel +632 505 5223, mobile +63906 570 3328
Published December 2015