Ramen is losing track of its roots. Thai and Chinese foods are sooooo old news (no, seriously, you might want to throw those leftovers away). As the U.S. looks for its new East Asian food obsession, signs are pointing to a boom in Filipino food, a melting pot cuisine that takes elements of Chinese and Malaysian, and mixes in a huge amount of Spanish influence left over from the colonial days.
It's one of the most unique flavor profiles out there, but where do you start? Probably not with the blood stew or chicken embryos (though those are pretty good, according to Andrew Zimmern). To help you enter this brave new world, we've assembled seven entry-level Filipino comfort foods that will have you completely hooked. Mainly because there's fried pork.
CREDIT: Flickr/Orangescale Studio
What it is: Veggies and sometimes meat, wrapped up in an crepe-like egg-based wrapper
What's the deal: Basically, the Pinoy cousin to the egg roll, spring roll, and salad roll, lumpia is served either crisply fried or "fresh", meaning unfried (also meaning less-delicious). It's filled up with carrots, sprouts, and other veggies, with the option to add shaved chicken, shrimp, pork, or tofu. Often served with peanut sauce, it's one of the culture's favorite appetizers and the perfect gateway food for beginners.
What it is: Chicken, pork, or seafood simmered in a marinade of vinegar & soy sauce
What's the deal: The unofficial national food of the Philippines, Adobo starts with a protein -- bone-in chicken, pork loin, squid, or fish, usually -- that goes into a pot filled with soy, vinegar, garlic, onions, and other veggies (depending on the recipe). It's then simmered until tender, and kind of pickled in its own stock, before being served over rice. Not to be confused with the bald bad guy from Double Dragon (that'd be Abobo), it's a common foreigner move to order it with extra sauce on the rice... a move that's nonetheless worth it because it's delicious.
What it is: Noodles
What's the deal: The most popular foundation in street foods and upscale cuisine, pancit refers to a wide variety of noodles that essentially become the Filipino version of Pad Thai. The most common are clear-ish noodles about the width of spaghetti and are often layered, kitchen sink-style, with pork, seafood, tofu, veggies, eggs, and sauce.