Filipino cuisine has many similarities to food in Malaysia. If you’re new to the cuisine, it’s predominantly quasi-Asian cooking with strong elements of Chinese, Spanish, Malay and Portuguese influences that crisscross each other over the last few centuries. Through mercantile exchanges, colonisation and slavery, the people in The Philippines have developed a unique cooking style that uses everyday ingredients, as well as spices and produce grown in their backyards.
The food is honest, unpretentious, hearty and comforting — some can be extremely tangy or slightly too greasy for general liking. But that’s how interesting Filipino food is. Take the sinigang dish for instance, which is pretty much a Malaysian version of gulai that uses tamarind or assam jawa as its main tangy element. Sinigang also has the same flavours as the Peranakan’s Itik Tim, a duck soup that features salt-pickled mustard. The soupy stew is simmered for hours with a choice of meat, fish or vegetables and is served with hot rice — sound familiar?
As for its Chinese roots, Manila is home to the world’s oldest Chinatown. It’s no surprise that you’ll find a lot of stir-fried dishes, noodles and spring rolls in Filipino cooking. But the most popular and also unofficial national dish of The Philippines is definitely Adobo that can be cooked using meat, seafood or even vegetables. It is a simple recipe using soy sauce, sugar and a tangy element — usually calamansi — and is a great accompaniment with fluffy white rice. You can relate to this dish that bears similar nuances as the Malay’s masak kicap or the Peranakan’s tempra dish.
All in all, Filipino dishes are a true blue comfort food that is best eaten together with family or a group of friends. If you’re wondering where these Filipino restaurants are in Kuala Lumpur, here are five to get you started. (Featured image: Source)
Tucked in the bustling neighbourhood of Seksyen 13, CalleVerde is a passion project by founder Cress Hipolito who brings her heritage and tradition to the table with a menu that represents her culture as a Filipina. The cafe specialises in various dishes including her signature Pinoy pastries, lumpia (spring rolls), chicken sisig (sauteed meat), kare-kare (a type of curry), and pancit palabok (fried noodles). There are also various western-inspired dishes with a touch of Filipino flavours to ensure that you get the best of both worlds.
You’re always welcome to try Filipino food at The Narra, especially when the staffs are readily helpful to explain to you everything that are on the menu. A popular spot for Filipino folks working in the Klang Valley, the cosy restaurant is known for a delightful spread of crowd-pleasing dishes including sisig, pinakbet (stir-fried dish with shrimp paste), ensaymada (soft bread), longganisa (a type of Spanish sausage), lechon kawaii (crispy pork belly) and more. There are also live band performances on selected nights to keep you entertained while dining.
If you’re here on a Sunday noon right after mass service at St. John Church in Kuala Lumpur, you’ll find this restaurant packed with Filipino congregations buzzing in Tagalog. A great place to cure homesickness, Laguna Mabuhay is where fellow Filipino satisfy their cravings for classics like pork sisig, milkfish and crispy pata (deep-fried pork trotters).
Truffles is a pork-free Filipino restaurant in Bangsar that is known for its halal offering like chicken adobo, spring rolls as well as rice dishes like tapsilog, shangsilog and embusilog. The restaurant is simple and cosy, with a warming home-cooked style that will surely hit the right spot. It is also reasonably priced as well. (Credit: Source)
For something more rustic, head straight to David Axel Cafe in Kota Raya where you can find classics like adobo manok, bina go onngang baboy (stir-fried pork with chillies, onions and preserved shrimp) and the all-time favourite Filipino dessert, halo-halo. Kota Raya is also a great place to find important Filipino products from instant noodles, sauces and even spices. Besides the regular staples, the cafe serves a Filipino version of prawn noodles which is called palabok. If you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll be able to sample balut (duck embryo) here as well.