Culture: Food

note: all Chinese pronunciations here are in Hokkien

Comida China: Chinese food hawkers go anywhere with their baskets of food to serve factory laborers toward end of the 1700s century well into the early 1900s.

Pancit copyPansit most probably refers to pian sit 便食 or fast food. The rich Philippine culture has transformed the pancit into myriad forms and tastes: molo, guisado, luglog, bato, palabok, Malabon, bihon, canton, habhab.



sotanghon copySotanghon. The name comes from 山東粉 (sua-tang-hun), but the noodle itself does not come from Shandong Province, China. Older Chinese say there used to be a famous restaurant called Shandong Restaurant whose most popular dish was the sotanghun soup.



lomi copy


Lomi (硵麪). A thick stew-like broth seasoned with soy sauce. The name itself indicates the cooking process – lo (硵) is to stew or simmer slowly and mi (麪) the noodles.



mami copyMami (肉). Originates from ba-mi, pork and noodles, popularized by Ma Mon Luk, a Cantonese schoolteacher who walked the streets peddling chicken noodle soup. The broth, which Ma made from fat native chickens, is continuously heated in a metal container with live coals underneath, while the noodles and utensils are in a large basket.


bachoy copy


Bachoy. (肉水 Ba-tsui). Literally meaning meat soup. If noodles are added and topped with ground chicharon, it becomes called La Paz bachoy, referring to its origin of La Paz, Iloilo, Southern Philippines.



misua copyMisua (面线 Mni-snua) is most popular ritual food among the Hokkien, served to relatives who came to visit for the first time. It is also served on other happy occasions like engagements, birthdays and weddings.




Hibe (蝦米 Hee be) Dried salted shrimp.




goto copy


Goto (牛肚 gu to) Cow tripe.






Humba (烘肉 Hong ba) Highly spiced dish of pork






Wansoy (葫荽 Ien suy) Cilantro






Kintsay (芹菜 Kim chay) Flat leaf parsley




pechay copy


Pechay (白菜 Peh tsai) Chinese cabbage.




toge copy


Toge (豆芽 Tau-geh) Bean sprouts





taho copy



Taho (豆花 Tau Hue) is a favorite sweet snack with tapioca balls and caramelized sugar. Vendors are distinguishable for bringing around two metal containers slung over shoulder poles.


tokwa copyTokwa (豆乾 Tau-knua) is a classic Asian white cube that is sliced or diced and added into local dishes. It can be fried or steamed as a whole, ready to be eaten as it is.




Toyo (豆油 Tau-iu) or soy sauce is another Filipino staple that cannot leave the dining table.





tausi copyTausi (豆豉) black bean paste. The Japanese occupation and the immediate post-war years were difficult times of hunger and deprivation. This is the period when improvised Chinese sweet potato congee, tausi, and bamboo shoots became staples that helped tide people over hunger.



hopia copyHopia is the Tagalog word derived from the Hokkien ho-pnia (好餅). In Fujian, China, hopia’s closest relative still looks like what it used to look like 100 years ago – bean paste inside a creamy dough skin. Early Philippine versions sold in Quiapo were made from green beans and flour or red beans and flour.



tikoy copy

Tikoy (甜糕 Tni-ke) sweet cake. It is the celebratory food item of choice during Chinese New Year. The sweetness and stickiness symbolize relationships between family members. The 甜糕is a traditional food item in Southern China as peasants and farmers celebrate the coming of the Spring. They would have just harvested their crop and food is aplenty.


lumpia3 copy


Lumpia (潤餅) Chinese food has evolved from its original Chinese Hokkien version or Cantonese version to a Filipinized version suited to the Filipino palate. Lumpia is one classic example of this evolution.



siopao siomai

Siopao 焼包 Siomai 焼賣. 90% of the Chinese in the Philippines come from Fujian Province or Hokkien. The rest are Cantonese who migrated to the Philippines in the early 1900s are. They brought to us these favorites.




bigasBigas. 米
Am 泔 Am
Biko 米糕 Bi-kō
Bilao 米漏 Bi-laò
Bilu-bilo 米糯 Bi-lō
Bithay 米篩 Bi-thay
Bitso米棗 Bi-tsō