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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food courts in the Philippines

Forget about sightseeing - the only thing I want photograph when I travel is food.

A trip to Manila for a wedding offered limited free time and we ended up spending much of it shopping. Even then, I found myself continually gravitating toward the sights and smells of the food court.

Kusina ni Gracia

Food courts. What's not to love?

We ended up shopping at the SM Mall of Asia, the fourth largest shopping mall in the world with 750 shops and 220 eateries, and Green Hills Shopping Centre which was near our hotel.

It's no surprise that I had more fun wandering the stalls and checking out the food on offer than visiting the stores.

Food is cheap and cheerful in the Philippines - most hot meals cost AU$2-$5.

Inihaw - offering pre-cooked foods and grilled seafood

Deep fried crab

Dishes at Inihaw

Sisig with chicaron balat (display sample) 79 pesos / AU$1.90

I couldn't resist the promise of sisig (sizzling chopped pigs head) and chicaron for lunch.

Sisig with chicaron balat 79 pesos / AU$1.90

Alas my resultant chicaron was a lot drier than the sample dish on display. For two dollars though, it was a cheap, if fatty, meal.

Potato Corner

I kept meaning to get some chips from Potato Corner -- french fries tossed with spices, drizzled with melted cheese or served with chocolate sauce in their new dessert flavour -- but somehow I ran out of time.

Coconut drinks

Turk's Shawarma - found everywhere and super cheap
with shawarma available for less than AU$1

Deep pan pizzas at Sbarro

Dairy Queen

Chocolate-dipped waffle cones from Dairy Queen

Hecky's Lechon

Lechon cebu roasted pig in the display case

It's a roasted pig in the display case with crackling for sale by portion size!

R Lapid's Chicharon

Did you smile at the mention of crackling? If so, then the Philippines is the place for you!

Standalone carts selling nothing but pork rinds are commonplace here, and locals carry around little bags of chicharon or scratchings everywhere, and munch on them like peanuts.

Snackage for everyone

The Filipino people don't just appreciate pork rinds. They love chicharon bituka made from pig or chicken intestines and chicharon manok deep fried chicken skin too.


Chibit (chicharon bituka) chicken intestines

Chibab (chicharon bituka) pork intestines and
chilak (chicharon bulaklak) pork omentum

Chicharon bulaklak is pork omentum, the fatty sac that protects the small intestines. Bulaklak means flower, referring to the appearance of the omentum when it is deep-fried.

Manila - home of a crackling good time!

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Manila 2010 - Suckling pig, Jollibee and sizzling sisig
Manila 2010 - Supermarkets, ensaymada and cheese ice cream
Manila 2010 - Turtle stew, black chicken soup and a wedding
27 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/24/2010 02:14:00 am


  • At 11/24/2010 9:58 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    woah it's the land of crackling! i too want to carry a bag of crackling wherever i go!

  • At 11/24/2010 10:16 am, Blogger Mel said…

    I want to live in the land of crackling too...sounds like heaven!

  • At 11/24/2010 10:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow - look at all those crackling! i wouldnt be able to stop eating them!!! my kind of place :)

  • At 11/24/2010 10:30 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    So much crackling goodness, so little time. And there is absolutely no way those pizzas should be considered pizzas - it's like quiches on steroids!! I can only imagine what it'd be like if these food courts existed here in Australia - eep.

  • At 11/24/2010 11:08 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Love love love! Everything is so colourful and different to what I see here in Canberra, hurrah! Chocolate potato chips... I'd have to try that.

    Also, your first sentence? Amen, sister. I think this is why I enjoy traveling alone so much. No one to tell me I should be spending four hours in museums, not grocery stores :P

  • At 11/24/2010 11:21 am, Blogger Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said…

    I am preparing my arteries for my first trip back home in Jan - I cant wait to try all this crackling goodness first hand. Thank you so much for the awesome preview - I sent it to Demos so he knows exactly what he is in for!
    Who needs to sightsee when there is food to be had!

  • At 11/24/2010 11:52 am, Anonymous shawn@StreetFood said…

    I've been staring at this post for half an hour day-drooling. We just missed a Jetstar sale with $200 return flights to Manila - this is rubbing salt in the wounds, er crackling.

  • At 11/24/2010 1:07 pm, Blogger Emma May said…

    holy mother of pearl that looks so overwhelming. If crowded food courts already make me a bit nervous over here, I can only imagine what would happen to me in Manila hahaha...those waffle cones with nuts on them look so good!

  • At 11/24/2010 1:21 pm, Blogger Shanks said…

    Those deep pan pizzas look like giant quiches, but love the land of crackle!!

  • At 11/24/2010 1:59 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    I don't think I've been prouder of my cuisine than today Helen - not sure how you did it but you made the commonplace foodcourt food look so good. I feel like jumping on the next flight home!

  • At 11/24/2010 4:04 pm, Blogger susan said…

    Can't believe they just have a suckling pig in a display window. Imagine that in Australia, it would go off!

    I always love looking at food places when travelling, but my bf isn't so thrilled by my obsession. I leave him asleep at the hotel!

  • At 11/24/2010 7:21 pm, Anonymous R said…

    Beautiful photos! My Filipino colleague sometimes invites us in her home and serves us excellent dishes. My favorite is the pork adobo or sometimes her adobo is a combination of chicken and pork I also liked the pancit which is I think is sort of Chinese and I like her leche flans. She's inviting me to Manila and perhaps I could stop by and taste all these goodness.

  • At 11/24/2010 7:52 pm, Blogger K said…

    Looks like you just gave me a very good reason to visit the Philipines! CRUNCH!

  • At 11/24/2010 9:16 pm, Blogger missklicious said…

    So many piggy products!

    I like the look of the chocolate dipped cones! I wish they had these here

  • At 11/24/2010 9:44 pm, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    In true GYF style you have done justice to the food blogging community by eating well! Sizzling chopped pigs head? Only you Ms Yee!

  • At 11/24/2010 9:52 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am sooo jealouus!! Look at all that foooood and for so cheap as well! chocolate on chips? deep fried intestines!!!! Yuuummmmmm

  • At 11/24/2010 10:03 pm, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Oh boy this is making me miss the Philippines so much! R. Lapid's chicharon is THE BEST chicharon (in my opinion)!!! Wish I can go back home soon...

  • At 11/24/2010 10:13 pm, Blogger Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said…

    And the bf says there's nothing to see in the Philippines... eesh he must have walked past all this with his eyes closed!

  • At 11/24/2010 11:45 pm, Anonymous KFC So Good said…

    wow... and I thought Thai are obsessed with pork crackling! I have seen nothing yet until I see your post! and suckling pig in food court!! and whole deep fried crab?!! This is like an Asian Hogwarts only crunchy! Everything someone forever young would want. :)

  • At 11/25/2010 9:37 pm, Anonymous mrs ed said…

    did u bring home some pork crackling? hopefully u got some from LAPIDS? thats the better one.. i love philippines swarma taste different from the stuff we get here.. hehe childhood food! hopefully u enjoyed ur stay there?

  • At 11/25/2010 11:03 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    To misquote Orlando Jones in his 2001 movie Evolution - "There's ALWAYS time for potato!" Seriously, those deep fried crabs look fantastic, are they mini ones or full size???

  • At 11/26/2010 7:12 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    I love your Manila Food blogs. We were just there a few weeks ago, it is food heaven and I must say you can get Lechon suckling pig in a lot of places. I particularly love the suckling pig at Gloria Maris cantonese restaurant at the Powerplant Mall, Rockwell and Cebu Lechon (which in my opinion is the best suckling pig in the world) from Jun and Jun's Cebu Lechon Plaza at Fort Bonifacio. Both areas are near Makati City.

    For those heading to manila in the near future, go to Shangri-la Makati's Circles buffet on a wednesday night for a filipino fiesta themed night. They have one of the largest and best tasting buffet I've had. They have 2 Suckling pig stations. 1 cooked cantonese style and the other traditional filipino.

    Love the way you captured the beauty of filipino food! Keep up the great work!

  • At 11/26/2010 11:16 am, Blogger Gastronomy Gal said…

    Manila looks so fun! I really want to go there, one of my besties is Fili and I'm thinking of going with her next year- adobo and crackling, here I come!

  • At 11/26/2010 11:28 am, Blogger Brenda said…

    I think I had a small heart attack reading this post LOL! But ohhhh crackling how I love youuuuuuuu!!!

  • At 11/26/2010 1:19 pm, Anonymous Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    Thank you for sharing that, I love checking out the food courts. I think I have just fallen in love with those little deep fried crabs.

  • At 11/29/2010 11:08 pm, Anonymous Roberta said…

    I've been to the Philippines once and I really like their pork adobo dish. even if it looks fatty, it tasted so good I kept coming back for more. Lucky I have a Filipino colleague and I always look forward to visiting her home because that means adobo. :) Nice shots!

  • At 12/01/2010 2:33 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Gianna - Ahh I'm filled with envy. Demos and yourself are going to have so much fun!

    Hi Shawn - $200 airfares? Wow! Hopefully there'll be another sale soon!

    Hi Trissa - lol. The food courts are amazing. Suckling pig? What more could you as for?!

    Hi Mrs Ed - I don't think you can bring back crackling into Aust :( The Phils was fab!

    Hi Ramen Lad - Thanks for all your tips. Two suckling pig stations? Whoah baby!


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