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Quick: Name three typical Filipino foods. Can’t do it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone: Filipino cuisine isn’t (yet) an international sensation, but we think you’ll leave Manila wondering why after tasting some of the country’s many delicious local specialties. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for five of the best food experiences in the Philippines’ capital city:
1. Sisig. No Filipino feast is complete without indulging at least one sizzling plate of sisig. There are many variations of it, but traditionally sisig is made with chopped-up pig’s head and chicken liver mixed with spicy chili peppers, calamansi (a lime-like Filipino fruit) and other spices.
2. Ginataang kuhol. These tasty little morsels soaked in coconut cream prove the French aren’t the only ones who know how to whip up snail-based delicacies. This popular finger food is available at restaurants, bars and food courts throughout the city.
3. Kare-kare. This hearty beef-based stew, usually made with oxtail, vegetables and peanut sauce, rivals sisig in terms of popularity among locals, many of whom happily consume some variation of it daily.
4. Adobo. If you’ve had Filipino food before, you’ve probably had adobo, which is not only a dish but also a distinct cooking process during which meats, seafood and vegetables are slowly stewed in a vinegar-based sauce. As with many Filipino foods adobo comes in countless varieties, but is most commonly made with pork, chicken or octopus.
5. Halo-halo. Finally, halo-halo is a sweet Filipino treat with a base of finely shaved ice that’s topped with evaporated milk and any number of beans, jellies and fresh fruits — we could easily go through two bowls at one sitting if we weren’t careful.