The Philippines: The ABC’s of Food in Cebu & El Nido

Anyone who knows me knows I love to experience local eats when visiting a new spot! I had heard that the food in the Philippines wasn’t anything to write home about, and to an extent it really wasn’t. There was so much grease in just about everything. They tell you about Bali Belly, but my indigestion (see “C”) was way worse in Cebu and El Nido. Was all of the food bad? No way! Here’s what I nibbled on throughout my latest vacation.

A is for Airplane

I’m not sure why, but people seem to love my posts on airplane food. Maybe they want to know what to expect on long-haul flights or budget airlines. My experience with China Eastern was actually really pleasant! Save for a few strange rules (we had to stop using our earbuds an hour before descent, for example), the service was very regular and I was quite comfortable. The China Eastern in-flight food wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t bad overall. It was probably the most fruit I had throughout my whole trip, too! I’ve been told not to eat the bread on flights, but these rolls were heated up. I ate a wild amount of carbs in the Philippines, and it all started on my 14 hour flight from Toronto to Shanghai.

I’m kind of obsessed with sheet masks on flights. The air is recycled, it gets dry, sometimes it’s super cold – it’s nice to refresh and moisturize your skin. Right after peeling away this mask (which had flecks of 24 karat gold, I might add) we were served empanadas and apple turnovers. My advice? Do not eat them. They will sit in your stomach like a rock even if you don’t eat the whole thing.

B is for Bars

While we did venture out and try to have some local eats, our hostels offered a great variety of food at the local bars. Sure, they’re a little bit pricier than going out to eat, plus there’s a Jollibee on practically every corner. With the gastrointestinal problems everyone I met was experiencing, it was safest just to mow down at the hostel.

Mad Monkey Hostel Cebu City Menu

Mad Monkey Hostel has a worldwide reputation as being a party hostel. To an extent, it is, but there’s something so laid back about being in the Philippines we found it was never a true rager. Imagine the best parts of a house party in University. Some people are playing beer pong, others are lounging on bean bag chairs, you’ve got someone inevitably charging their phone, and a DJ who is still kind of learning the ropes. It’s comfortable and immediately felt like home.

It wasn’t weird rocking up and joining a new group of people and getting to know one another over a beer (or five). The bartender will give you heck for ordering breakfast for dinner, but the brunch foods far surpassed lunch and dinner at Mad Monkey, so get on that all-day grind. Mad Monkey Cebu’s Eggs Benny were probably my favourite of the whole trip.  I did try lechon and adobo, but they just didn’t hit the spot. Don’t miss their longaniza breakfast, though!

Outpost Beach Hostel Menu – El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

The menu at Outpost Beach Hostel seemed to have it all, too. Their breakfasts were not my favourite, but they had lunch and dinner completely on point. After being on a boat, climbing, swimming, and snorkeling all day, I didn’t even care about the calories. We were gearing up for nights out in town just about every evening and demolished these dinners.

Shout out to the kitchen for their gnocchi bolognese – I’m pretty sure everyone in our group devoured that dish at least once each after returning from the amazing boat tours. Everything on the menu is rich and hearty. While El Nido was a little more expensive than I expected, the dinners at Outpost Beach Hostel in the Philippines were unreal. On the boat tours we were also treated to an incredible spread of pork, chicken, fish, salads, fruit, and rice. I don’t think I’ve ever craved rice and sauce (the sweet soy sauce prepared for the fish was out of this world) like I did on day 2 of the boat tour. They did a phenomenal job, although it probably contributed to C, to follow!

C is for…Constipation

At the beginning and at the end of my trip I had nothing going on when it came to the bathroom situation. Throughout the middle of my trip, we were all running to the loo at any given moment. My stomach felt like a bloated gut pretty much the whole time. Eating different kinds of food prepared in ways which don’t exactly align with what you eat at home can definitely send your body into a rut! Be prepared to drink lots of water and honestly – just give into it. If you have a Charlotte/ pudding situation, well…it is what it is and that’s all part of the travel experience. Just this week I had shellfish in Canada which didn’t agree with me – it can happen anywhere. Be adventurous with your food – Bali Belly isn’t unique to Indonesia and traveling in SEA, food is always a gamble!

 

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