Even though Australia’s Asian food scene is enviable and diverse, Filipino food has often flown under the radar, overshadowed by perfectly portable sushi, theatrical teppanyaki, colourful bibimbap, involved Peking roast duck, rich and fiery curries, or crusty fresh Vietnamese banh mi. Finally, with a flock of Filipino cafes and restaurants opening in recent years, Filipino cuisine is solidifying its place in Australian culture.
Reflecting centuries of colonisation and trade, modern Filipino cuisine draws influence from both the East and the West. Think pickled vegetables, sizzling pork with a rich sauce and soft steamed buns. Here are five places around Perth where you can get a taste.
Ready Eddie’s Cafe, Hamilton Hill
Bring a few mates and order the boodle tray, in the spirit of Filipino boodle fights, where feasts are laid out on banana leaves for you to eat with your hands. Ready Eddie’s version includes bistek (a portmanteau of beef steak), which is thin slices of beef braised in a soy and citrus-heavy sauce; crispy pata (deep-fried pork knuckle); a clear beef shank stew called bulalo; pickled vegetables; and rice. You can eat it with regular cutlery, or the team will happily give you gloves so you can dig in.
Congee House, Kardinya & Cockburn
A Filipino food journey would not be complete without adobo. Considered the national dish of the Philippines, adobo is a melt-in-your-mouth dish (often made with pork or chicken or sometimes a combination of both) coated in a comforting, rich sauce made from peppercorn herbs and vinegar, which seeps seamlessly into your steaming hot rice. And Congee House’s adobo is one of the best in the west. Also worth a mention is their sizzling sisig – seared fatty pork pieces served on a red-hot cast iron plate and topped with a raw egg that cooks as you mix it. Squeeze some lemon or calamansi (a tiny Filipino citrus) over the top to cut through the fat, making it mind-bendingly moreish.
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Filipino Favourites (OKYFF), multiple locations
Ryan and Aiza Briggs have been pumping out Filipino barbeque since 2020. With a passion for quality ingredients, this duo dishes up meats that are lovingly basted in a traditional sweet and savoury Filipino marinade and chargrilled to perfection. The top pick would be chicken inasal (Maryland style, marinated then basted in a mix of coconut vinegar, citrus and annatto oil) but if you’re particularly hungry, or indecisive, order the mixed meat grill plate. They also have various pop-ups and stalls which you can keep abreast of on their social pages.
Pala, Osborne Park
Filipino food is very meat-heavy, but places such as Pala are breaking the mould by offering vegetarian options. This punchy little cafe has nailed the Filipino fusion experience. Expect brunch classics with a Filipino flare: think breakfast burritos stuffed with longganisa (sweet Filipino chorizo) and bowls packed with golden hummus, red atchara (Filipino pickled papaya) and topped with chicken inasal, liempo (grilled pork belly) or mushroom adobo. And whether you’re an ube obsessive, or just keen on the Instagrammable hue, their ube latte and waffles with fried chicken and chilli-infused maple syrup are seriously delicious.
My Portion Bakery, Yangebup
What this bakery lacks in square footage, it makes up for in flavour. My Portion Bakery serves a variety of Filipino breads like pandesal (soft, slightly sweet bread rolls) and ensaymada (buttery, sugary and cheesy all at once) at reasonable prices. Get in early to try their pork asado siopao, a soft steamed bun similar to bao filled with beautifully braised pork and served with sweet chilli sauce, or try the ube cheese bread, a purple bun stuffed with ube halaya (a sweet spread made with boiled and mashed ube) and soft cheese – a unique flavour combination that Filipinos have adored for years.
With additional reporting by Chynna Santos.