8 Quintessential Filipino Dishes to Serve Your Foreign Guests

It’s arguable that food is the way to discover a new culture. For Filipinos, it’s only natural that when foreign guests ask what the Philippines is like, cuisine becomes a main topic. Sharing a meal with someone is a way to show appreciation. With the variety of dishes available in the country, it can be difficult to figure out what to serve or where to even begin. 

Filipino Dishes to Serve Your Foreign Guests
Lechon Kawali

You may feel that you may neither have the ingredients nor the equipment at home and must check what kitchen appliances for sale are available. After all, Filipino cuisine sometimes requires very specific ingredients or methods of preparation. Atsuete (annatto) for example, is traditionally used to give pancit palabok its familiar vermillion color, while sampalok (tamarind) and santol (cotton fruit) are often included in sinigang to imbue the dish it with the distinctive sour taste profile. It would also be challenging to cook Filipino stews like nilaga or bulalo if you didn’t have a pressure cooker, which allows you to tenderize meat in mere minutes instead of hours. Of course, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Filipino home without a basic rice cooker, considering the ubiquitous grain is a staple food throughout the islands.

If you know the basics, however, it’ll be easier to make a shortlist of food items to serve. Here are 8 dishes that will give your guests a taste of the Philippines.

Chicken and Pork Adobo

A staple in any household - you can’t let your guests leave without trying adobo. This chicken and pork dish is super easy to make with only a few other ingredients required aside from the meat itself. Your pantry is probably already stocked with garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorn, and bay leaves, so whipping up this dish should be no problem at all. The best part is you have the option to just boil everything in a pot. So, in terms of cleaning, it’s hassle free. Most recipes do recommend cooking the meat in oil prior to boiling, but you can go with whatever is easier.

Pancit Palabok

Yes, you can order this from Jollibee, but nothing beats a home-cooked meal. Pancit palabok is no exception. Made with rice noodles, shrimp sauce, actual shrimps, boiled egg, and chicharron among other things, this dish will surely give your guests a taste of what the Philippines is all about. Its unique flavor and texture definitely set it apart from other Asian noodle dishes, so it will be sure to pique their interests and satisfy their taste buds.

Sizzling Pork Sisig

Fatty, juicy, spicy, and with that hint of calamansi to tie it all together - sisig might be considered by some as a heart attack waiting to happen - but in the best way possible. Clearly, it’s not one of the healthiest options available, but it’s certainly worth all the calories and cholesterol. From the crackle on the sizzling plate to mixing the fried egg in as soon as it hits the table, your guests will be quick to ask what this dish is all about.



If your guests are a bit more adventurous, kare-kare might be worth serving. Traditionally made with oxtail and tripe, this may not be for everyone. However, if you can get past what it’s made of, your tastebuds will surely be rewarded. It’s the closest Filipino dish to a curry, so if your guests are from fellow Asian countries, this may be something they will appreciate. Do make sure to ask about allergy restrictions prior since the dish’s main flavor comes from its savory peanut sauce and bagoong alamang (shrimp paste).

Lechon Kawali

Your guests may have heard or seen photos of lechon on the internet, but if you’re only 3 or 4 people dining, an entire lechon is not practical. Go for the next best thing which packs just as much flavor: lechon kawali. This crispy pork belly dish is traditionally deep fried in a wok. Not so confident using that much oil for fear of getting splattered? You can also attempt to cook it in a turbo broiler. You’ll get the same crispy skin, but with more tender meat and zero oil.

Sinigang na Hipon

“Sour soup?” your guests may ask. Made with tamarind-based broth and a variety of vegetables such as radish, tomatoes, kang kong, and chili, you can guarantee your guests that they have probably not tasted anything similar to sinigang. Maybe the Thai tom yum soup is the closest that comes to mind, but the unique taste of tamarind is truly what sets sinigang apart. It might not be everyone’s favorite at first, but as soon as you acquire the taste, it will be a dish you can’t live without.


Fluffy Bibingka
Fluffy Bibingka

Moving on from purely savory treats, offer your guests a dish that crosses the bridge between sweet with a touch of savory. Bibingka or Filipino coconut rice cake is a dish that can be served whether it be breakfast or merienda. There are different variants you can offer, but perhaps the one that will spark your guests’ interest incorporates both duck egg and cheese baked into the cake and topped generously with coconut shavings.


Yummy Halo-halo
Yummy Halo-halo

To end on a sweet note, your guests would not have made it all the way to the Philippines without trying halo-halo. The number of colors and ingredients may amaze or even scare them at first, but one spoonful and you’ll surely win them over. If you want to go the extra mile, make sure to top the halo-halo you serve with both leche flan and ube ice cream. Your guests will be asking for seconds even before they finish their first serving.

Inviting foreign guests for a homemade meal is a great way to share the Filipino culture. With the many delicious options to choose from, without a doubt you’ll impress your guests and satisfy their stomachs.


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