15 MUST TRY Dishes for Balikbayans This Christmas!

Pinakbet Tortang Talong Monggo Guisado 1521 Balikbayan When In Manila Mae Ilagan-6


This article is definitely one of the most difficult for me to finish since I have soooooo many dishes to recommend. Unfortunately, I was limited to only 10… ONLY 10!!!!!!!!! but since I really can’t help it, I added 5 more! lols 

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me about the dishes their  balikbayan relatives should try out when they visit/return to the Philippines this holiday season. Hmmmmmm…. this really got me thinking……..

……..Well, if I were to take my balikbayan relatives on a food trip, I will let them indulge onto a lot Filipino food. More like a mix of Pinoy favorites with a little twist, best versions of classic ulam dishes and also take them to iconic Filipino restaurants to once again rekindle their romance for good old Filipino flavors.


Of course, like with all my other food features, I’m only recommending dishes which I have personally tasted. These are actually my personal favorites and are the ones which first pop into my head whenever I think of the best Pinoy food. =)


15. The Aristocrat Restaurant’s Signature Chicken Barbeque

I will surely take my balikbayan relatives to The Aristocrat Restaurant. I believe this brand doesn’t need any introduction and despite the countless new restos in town, The Aristocrat Restaurant remains as a legend in the industry. (bow)


Aside from their signature Chicken Barbeque, I also love their fried chicken, Sotanghon Guisado and Torta delos Reyes


chicken bbq

When it comes to Chicken Barbeque, this one’s the most famous of all! And of course, you can only taste it here in the Philippines! I’m sure your balikbayan relatives will appreciate it when you take them here.



14. The Kare-Kare at Jeepney Cafe Intercontinental Manila

For your relatives who are craving for authentic Kare-Kare, invite them over at Jeepney Cafe, Intercontinental Manila! I have tasted a lot of Kare-Kare dishes before but honestly, the Kare-Kare here at Jeepney Cafe is the only one that really stuck to my mind…. 


This is really the best for me. “Sarap na hahanap-hanapin”


The Kare-Kare here is super sarap… ang bilis maubos (kse inubos ko! lols)!


13. Chocoholic’s Champorado at Tsoko Nut Batirol

– Whenever my friends ask me about my recommended Champorado, I always recommend this. Nothing beats champorado with 100% native Tablea chocolate! I’m sure your relatives miss this a lot! 

Tsoko Nut Batirol


12. “Talong Mo Kay Tulfo” Tortang Talong from 1521 Restaurant (Burgos Circle at Forbes Town Center, Fort Bonifacio)

– I believe that a true Filipino loves tortang talong! I think Filipinos abroad often make this, as it’s really easy to prepare, but  I’m sure they will be blown away when they taste the “Talong Mo Kay Tulfo” Tortang Talong from 1521 Restaurant! It’s an oversized version of the usual tortang talong and instead of ground meat, they use sisig!!! Eat this with newly cooked rice plus banana ketchup… SOLB!

Pinakbet Tortang Talong Monggo Guisado 1521 Balikbayan When In Manila Mae Ilagan-12


11. The Original Avocado Cake by Lia’s Cakes in Season (25-A East Capitol Drive, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City)

– Want to impress your balikbayan relatives? Serve them with a cake like no other! Only in the Philippines and made perfectly by Lia’s Cakes in Season.

Lias Cakes in Season Avocado Cake When in Manila Mae Ilagan-11


10. Cebu Lechon Belly from The Hearty Onion

– Filipino family reunions/get togethers will never be complete without lechon. For your relatives who have stayed in countries that strictly eat halal food (no pork), I’m sure they are dying to eat lechon! The Cebu Lechon Belly at The Hearty Onion in prepared and cooked in Cebu then flown here in Manila making it authentic!

Hearty Onion Mae Ilagan Jo Arce-16


9. Two-Way Pork Adobo Ribs at Cafe Juanita (Burgos Circle at Forbes Town Center, Fort Bonifacio)

-Ultra tender pork ribs braised in Cafe Juanita‘s secret sauce and topped with crispy pork adobo flakes… Diet? What diet??? lols Highly recommended for people who can’t get enough of Adobo.

Adobo Sinigang Cafe Juanita Balikbayan When In Manila Mae Ilagan-2



8. Pinakbet-ter Than Best of 1521 Restaurant (Burgos Circle at Forbes Town Center, Fort Bonifacio)

In this season of feasting, be sure to balance it out with healthy vegetable dishes like this special “Pinakbet-ter Than Best” from 1521. As you can see in the photo below, their Pinakbet is composed of a combination of slowcooked ingredients with chunks of fresh tomatoes, crispy pork meat and pork cracklings for that added crunch!

Pinakbet Tortang Talong Monggo Guisado 1521 Balikbayan When In Manila Mae Ilagan-7


7. Arroz Caldo Buffet at Nurture Wellness Village Tagaytay (Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II West ,Tagaytay City, Cavite)

– For your visiting relatives who have stayed abroad for ages, I highly recommend you take them to Nurture Wellness Village Tagaytay to rediscover their  Filipino heritage through the GABRIELA Experience.

Here at Nurture Wellness Village Tagaytay, you and your relatives will get to rediscover our native Pinoy dances, games, our native “kakanins” or rice cakes and also indulge onto the BEST ARROZ CALDO in THE WORLD and a whole lot more!! Highly recommended for family reunions!!


copyright-kathiraneses-jerichosanmiguel-muckingaroundmanila-nurturespa-tagaytay-51learn to dance the Carinosa (photo credit: muckingaroundmanila.com)



(photo credit: muckingaroundmanila.com)

learn to walk on stilts…


and try the BEST Arroz Caldo in the World!


Made with all organic ingredients!  (photo credit: muckingaroundmanila.com)



paired with crispy tawilis, tapa, sardines and even kale siomai! The best talaga! (photo credit: muckingaroundmanila.com)



6.  The Homemade Ice Creams at Milky Way of Malate (Tuscany, Upper Mckinley Road, Mckinley Hill, Taguig City)

I know ice cream can be found anywhere in the world, but the ones made by Milky Way has this certain distinct character which sets them apart from the rest. These flavors will surely take you back to your childhood and will make your balikbayan relatives miss the Philippines more! 

Milky Way Tuscany McKinley When In Manila Mae Ilagan


5. Puto Bumbong Cake by Lia’s Cakes in Season (25-A East Capitol Drive, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City)

– Make your Christmas “handaans” more colorful and unique by bringing this on the table! Another unique creation by Lia’s Cakes in Season. Available only during Christmas making it a MUST have! Perfect enjoyed with hot tea or coffee.

Lias Cakes in Season Avocado Cake When in Manila Mae Ilagan-10


4. Coco Sisig Kineme at Star-BAKS (Bukidnon St., Bago Bantay QC near Sto. Nino Parish church)

– I just really have to include this because you cannot find this anywhere. Herks Umali’s unique Coco Sisig Kineme, the sisig with coconut cream and tender juicy hotdog bits! If your relatives grew up loving TJ hotdogs, then I’m sure they will adore this! Only P75 with rice and egg!

SM Hypermarket Best Pinoy Street Food 2014 Chef Boy Logro Day 2 When in Manila Mae Ilagan-26


3. Empanada de Kaliskis 1820 at Adarna Food & Culture (119 Kalayaan Ave., Diliman District, Quezon City)

– I’d like to call this as the Ultimate Empanada. The empanada recipe which dates way way back in 1820, and is now only made by 2 old ladies in Bulacan. A Filipino gem indeed! Only in the Philippines!

Empanada de Kaliskis


2.  Quezo de Bola Cheesecake at Cheesecakes by Guy  (Eastwood Mall)

-Same with ice cream, cheesecakes can also be found practically everywhere, except for this kind I believe, making it a MUST have for the holidays. Not too sweet. Their Dulce de Leche and Ube flavors are also nice but since I’m a big cheese lover, I prefer the Quezo de Bola Cheesecake!

Cheesecakes by Guy Balikbayan When In Manila Mae Ilagan-2


1. Puto Bumbong Pancake at Early Bird Breakfast Club (Eastwood Mall)

-Whoever thought about this is an absolute genius! I’ve heard about Bibingka Pancakes before but Puto Bumbong??? woaaaahh!! Looks amazing and tastes amazing as well! I’m sure balikbayans will go crazy over this!

Puto Bumbong Pancake Early Bird Breakfast Club When In Manila Mae Ilagan-14

Puto Bumbong Pancake Early Bird Breakfast Club When In Manila Mae Ilagan-16


Be sure to share this article with your relatives abroad and ask them which ones they would like to try.

Do you have other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below so I can personally check them out too!

Happy Eating!




15 MUST TRY Dishes for Balikbayans This Christmas