By definition a ‘foreigner’ means to be an outsider or a stranger. But despite the negative connotation I enjoy embracing the quality of being a foreigner. It’s the wonderfully unique position to always be on the verge of something new. A sight I have never seen. A taste I might never get to try ever again. A different way of thinking, seeing or eating— even in your own country. There is always an aftertaste of (un)appreciation.
Such was the case over my Christmas break in the Philippines where I guiltlessly food tripped through my favorite restaurants with friends and family. There was a two-week expiration date before I had to fly back. So, like a foreigner I consumed with a sense of urgency, stuffing my face with the awareness that walang ganyan sa Singapore (translation: there’s nothing like that in SG. Aside: Does anyone remember this Filipino ad way back?)
Technically I went back home where everything is local to me, but the thing about migrating (or traveling) is that every sight and taste of home will always feel different. In a way you’re branded a ‘foreigner’ for life as you will never (un)appreciate home the same way again.
So as a balikbayan, expat, or Overseas Filipino Worker, I went back to the Philippines ready to eat like never before (and take advantage of a home cooked meal. Hi mom.) Below are some of my must-eat-in restaurants and Filipino favorites for every trip back home. What’s on your balikbayan list?
1) Sunday brunch at home
While brunching is a favorite past time for people in Singapore, nothing beats a hearty pinoy breakfast of fried rice, tapa (cured beef), longanisa (sweet filipino sausage), fried/sunny-side-up egg doused in suka (vinegar.) This is one of my favorite things about Sunday mornings in our household!
2) Jollibee Chicken Joy and Spaghetti Meal
Back in college this was 1) my favorite hangover meal and 2) what I crave when I’m stressed out and studying. I do miss stopping by in the wee hours of the morning! I’m excited for it to come to Singapore!
3) Bistro Filipino by Chef Laudico
I can’t believe this was our first time eating in Bistro Filipino. My cousin brought my sisters and mom here for dinner. We opened and closed the restaurant with a 4-hour sit-down all-you-can-eat ala carte dinner!
It was a pleasant surprise to devour classic pinoy favorites like sisig (pigs face) or pancit palabok (rice noodles flavored with shrimp) like it was the first time because of the way Chef Laudico prepares it. World class pinoy food that still tastes down-to-earth which I what I love about pinoy food.
Left column: Top – Gambas (shrimp in olive oil and garlic), Bottom – Kinilaw (raw fish marinated in vinegar and chili)
Middle column: Top – Pancit Palabok with malunggay leaves. Bottom – Salpicao (Beef in olive oil and garlic)
Right column: Top – Sosyal Sisig (haha!), Bottom: Awesome mini lava cake
This was the winner: Sinigang martini. Ingenious concept! What we usually know as sour and savour sou but topped with gata (coconut milk)
4) Seconds at Fort Bonifacio
5) Nihon Bashitei
6) Seryna at Little Tokyo
7) Jamaican Pattie
Jamaican me pattie anyone? Hah! Munching on this beef patty has always been my simple pleasure especially when I’m not hungry enough for a full meal!
Opa! for lamb gyros. A well known and loved Greek restaurant in the Philippines.
Omakase is by far one of my favorite Japanese restaurants partly because of the mayonnaise sushi dip.
Other shout outs are Pancake House, Pancit Canton and San Miguel Pale!
Third entry on my #ComingHome series. :)