In the Asian continent especially in the Southeast Asia, Filipino food is favoured internationally however it’s overshadowed by the most popular Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines. Like most Asian food, Filipino food consist of an abundance of seafood, tropical fruits and vegetables, and creative dishes.
Filipino restaurants and bakeries are in abundance in Qatar as the country is home to approximately 150,000 to 200,000 Filipinos, who make one of the largest populations in Qatar. There’s even a Filipino Souq in the country just behind Fanar, Qatar Islamic Cultural Center where the Filipino expat community converge for their spices, fresh meat and fish, rices and pancit (noodles). There are a wide range of the delicious glutinous desserts made with rice and coconut. It is apparently as much a social as it is a shopping experience.
In this ‘Food File’, Marhaba tells you what are the Filipino dishes you need to try and where:
Up north in Ilocos, the vegetable dish of okra, eggplant, bitter gourd, squash, tomatoes and bagoong (shrimp or fish paste) called pinakbet is a favorite. And now, this healthy and an easy to cook dish, which has made its way around the archipelago. It is cooked in most households and local restaurants.
In Asia, every country has a version of a lumpia, which is a spring roll. In the Philipines, lumpia is considered to be a popular traditional Filipino appetizer, which can be served as a side dish or as an appetizer. There are various types of lumpia, which consists of a thin rice or wheat flour wrapper filled with a mixture of meat (most often ground pork or ground beef), cabbage, carrots, onions, and garlic. An egg wash is used to seal the lumpia wrapper to ensure none of the filling escapes when it is deep fried. A sweet and sour sauce or vinegar-based fina’denne‘ may be used as a dipping sauce.
A ubiquitous dish in every household in the Philippines, it’s Mexican in origin, but Filipinos found that cooking meat (often chicken and pork) in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and other spices, was a practical way to preserve meat without refrigeration. This cooking style can be applied to different meats or even seafood.
Served mostly in celebrations especially birthdays, the pancit palabok is a noodle dish layered with rice noodles, a rich orange sauce made from shrimp broth, pork, hard boiled eggs, shrimps, chicharon (pork rinds) and sometimes oysters and squid.
In Lucban, Quezon, pancit habhab is served on a banana leaf and slurped with carrots, chayote, and a few pieces of meat, this noodle dish is mostly eaten on the go.
Brown sugar syrup is stirred into warm soybean custard and topped with sago pearls. Usually, Taho and other forms of sweet Filipino bread are available from supermarkets and restaurants including Woqod Petrol Station, Family Food Center and Carrefour.
Purple in colour, the ube or ‘purple yam’ is a popular dessert, which is quite common during holidays, town feasts and special occasions or celebartions. The texture is a little chewy and creamy, and the flavour of the sweet halayang ube (ube jam) should stand out. Ube is a tuber that grows above ground, commonly found in Asian countries. On the outside, the ube or purple yam looks like a long, large potato with a rough, brown outer skin. Once peeled or sliced, the inside reveals a light pink, smooth flesh similar to that of a potato.
Marhaba Picks: Independent restaurants, offering Filipino food in Qatar (in no particular order):
- Max’s Restaurant, Al Muntazah | 4412 6299
- Max’s Restaurant, Al Sadd | 4444 6297
- Gerry’s Grill, Al Nasr Street | 4443 8323
- Amwaj, Al Mirqab Al Jadeed | 4436 4158, 4436 4159
- Shore Time, Mattar Khadeem, Old Airport Area | 4466 7774
- Pinoy Fiesta, Al Naseer Street, Salwa Road | 4475 9322
- Royal Restaurant, Ibin Dirham Street, Mansoura, Najma | 4442 9880
- Asian Traditional Restaurant, Near TV Roundabout, Markhiya & Barwa Village, Al Wakrah Road | 3324 7435
- Kamayan sa Doha, New Salata | 6648 6400
- Batangas Best Restaurant, Opposite Gulf Horizon Hotel, Al Souq | 4441 4913
- Marina Restaurant, Mattar Khadeem, Old Airport Area | 4466 0037
- Nayong Filipino, Al Sadd Main Road, Al Sadd | 4413 1373
- Central Cafe, The Centre, Salwa Road | 4443 5702
- Caravan, Sterling Complex, Ramada Junction | 4465 7711, 4465 7722
- Rotana, Al Khaleej Street, Bin Mahmoud | 4476076 and Ahmed Bin Ali Street, Opposite Ahli Hospital, Bin Omran | 4487 6767
Author: Ola Diab
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