Filipino food is one of the most flavorful cuisines in the world. The more popular dishes, however, are not exactly the healthiest. These are fried in so much oil, cured with a lot of salt, or cooked with overly salty condiments.
It’s easy when you’re cooking it yourself at home, where you can modify the recipe to your liking. But when you’re eating out, it can be a challenge finding a dish that wouldn’t compromise your health.
We scoured the metro to find delicious yet healthy Filipino food, and we’re pleased to share find that there are some fantastic options available – you just need to know where to go to.
Adobong Kangkong at Sentro 1771
When one thinks of Filipino food, the dish that automatically comes to mind is Adobo. Typically cooked with pork, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, laurel leaves, and peppercorn, it’s the go-to comfort food for Pinoys. A healthier version of this classic dish is replacing the meat with kangkong (water spinach). Called Adobong Kangkong, you can find this healthy version at Sentro 1771. Best eaten with a cup of organic brown rice or red rice, order a plate for yourself or share it with family and friends.
Sentro 1771, Greenbelt 5, Makati/Capitol Commons, Pasig/Uptown BGC, Taguig
Pancit Palabok at Lucy in the Sky Cafe
Pancit Palabok, a rice noodle dish topped with shrimp sauce, crunchy fried pork belly, and chicharon (fried pork rinds), is a merienda staple for Filipinos and is a quintessential dish at parties. Given the variety of fried toppings, it’s not exactly the healthiest. Luckily, you can indulge in a guilt-free palabok at Lucy in the Sky Café in San Juan. Instead of the usual oily and fried toppers, this plant-based version is topped with tofu, breadcrumbs, and spring onions, and served with calamansi. You can enjoy this in the restaurant or order a bilao to bring to your next party.
Lucy in the Sky Café, 222 Wilson St, San Juan
Laing at Corner Tree Cafe
Laing is a naturally healthy dish as it’s basically taro leaves cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, and boiled in coconut milk. There are a few restaurants that can cook it well, one being the Corner Tree Café in Makati. Generally served for sharing, most diners have this dish all for themselves. Already served with organic red rice, it’s a dish that’s perfect for lunch because it can leave you feeling full and keep you going for the entire day.
Corner Tree Café, 150 Jupiter St. Makati
Puto Bumbong at Café Via Mare
Out of all the rice cakes available in the Philippines, Puto Bumbong is the healthiest as it uses whole-grain sticky purple rice. While it is sometimes combined with white rice, as long as you don’t indulge in this every day, it’s perfectly fine to eat once in a while. In any case, Puto Bumbong is seasonal because it’s usually sold only during Christmas time. Via Mare is one of the restaurants in Metro Manila where you can order this rice cake regularly. Be sure to hold off on the butter and lessen sugar when eating this one.
Café Via Mare, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati/Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong/Greenbelt 1, Makati/St. Luke’s Medical Center, BGC Taguig/Landmark, Glorietta, Makati/Toyota Asian Cultural Centre, Diliman, QC/Landmark, Trinoma, QC/EVIA Lifestyle Center, Las Piñas
Taho in various food courts
Taho, made from silken tofu and topped with tapioca pearls and brown sugar syrup, is an all-time favorite Pinoy snack. It’s reminiscent of a Filipino childhood where you can only buy this from taho peddlers who roam neighborhoods very early in the morning. Nowadays, you can find the peddlers selling this on the streets during the day and you can also find it in local food courts. If you’re careful about your sugar intake, you can have it with just the tofu and tapioca. An alternative is switching the brown sugar syrup with coco nectar, agave nectar, or Grade A maple syrup instead.
Manila streets and food courts
Finding healthier Filipino food options used to be a struggle when dining out. Now, there are delicious and healthier choices available in restaurants and food establishments around the metro.
Which one is your favorite? Share with us your own finds!
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by any of the abovementioned restaurants.