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10 January 2018 11:19 am

Top five Filipino dishes you should try in Qatar and where to find them!

Marson Kiel Lumanglas
Marson Kiel Lumanglas
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It's amazing how the food scene in Qatar has evolved throughout the years, thanks to its multi-national workforce who have continued to bring the irresistible flavours of their home countries to the menu! Wherever you're from, there's always a perfect fit to fill your belly and satisfy your tastebuds after a long day's work. 

One of the few nationalities who love gathering around the dining table to devour good food are Filipinos! Being the fourth largest group of foreign workers in the region, the Filipino community in Qatar is so ubiquitous that it makes up more than 10% of the country's entire population

Also, over the past few years, several food festivals featuring delectable Filipino dishes have been making the rounds, one of them being the recently-concluded Regional Food Festival held on December 8,2017. The event was under the patronage of the Philippine Embassy and was sponsored by Kulinarya Qatar, a group of Filipino restaurants operating across Qatar. Plus last year's 2017 Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) also saw a host of cultural cuisine -- including Filipino on offer at the country's most popular foodie festival!

The concept of 'boodle fight', is a buffet-style selection of items served on a giant banana leaf, usually served on the beach, is another food trend that's taken the foodie scene in the Philippines by storm.

"Filipino cuisine is among one of the most underrated, when, in fact, it has a rich history," said Filipino celebrity chef Michelle Adrillana during her visit to Doha in 2016. "Just as the Filipino people are part Malay, Chinese, and Spanish, so is the cooking in the Philippines. Filipino cuisine is a unique blend of the exotic and familiar." 

The truth is, almost everywhere you look, there's always a wide array of Filipino food around -- and it's constantly evolving with the existence of several gourmet influences scattered across the diverse twists and turns of Doha.

So, if you want to give your friends (whether they're your fellow Kabayans or not) a treat, then we've got you covered!  Here are five of the best Filipino dishes in Qatar and where to find them:

Disclaimer: The upcoming photographs will make you really, really hungry!

Max's Restaurant's B-Ring Road branch.

Max's Restaurant 

The dish: Sinigang na Hipon (Shrimp sour soup) 

Locations: B-Ring Road and Al Sadd 

Open from: 10:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m.

$$$

Besides their signature whole fried chicken, Max's Restaurant is also known for their indulgingly-sour shrimp sinigang! Usually cooked the same way as Thailand's famous Tom Yum Goong soup, Filipinos' favorite tamarind soup is seasoned with lots of vegetables -- the more, the tastier! One very noticeable thing about Max's way of presenting their dishes is that it's very Filipino -- using traditional pots and utensils, meaning the soup in their sinigang dish is almost bottomless!

Says food reviewer @stunningleng via Zomato: "It's home away from home, I can say. Staff are so welcoming bringing all smiles -- a trademark of Filipino hospitality. I've been visiting Max's for the nth time now, and with new additions to their menu, they definitely exceeded what was expected." 

The interior of Barrio Fiesta restaurant looks like a mini-museum!

Barrio Fiesta 

The dish: Beef Kare-Kare (Beef in peanut sauce) 

Location: Al Muthanna Complex, Ramada Signal, Salwa Road, Al Hilal 

Open from: 12 noon till 11:00 p.m.

$$$

A sneak peek at Barrio Fiesta's festive-looking food table!

This little wonder, which may look bland from the outside but is actually really appealing with its colourful interior, just opened a few months back, making it one of the youngest food stops for Filipinos in Doha. On top of their offerings is the Kare-Kare, a dish usually dipped in rich and flavorful peanut sauce. Barrio Fiesta's beef variety of the dish is to die for, as the meat's fat melts in the mouth as you chew it. No wonder why Kare-Kare is in every Kabayan's meal list, there's just so much more to crave for as it comes with bagoong (a salty relish made of small fish or shrimps) which goes side-by-side with every single serving.

"It’s quite a treat to see an actual jeepney and tricycle (major public modes of transportation in the Philippines) on display at a restaurant in Qatar. It's also a great opportunity to introduce the Filipino lifestyle to our non-Filipino friends. In Barrio Fiesta, you can find that," writes Doha-based lifestyle blogger Zeke Tunay.

A view of the Little Manila restaurant from the outside.

Little Manila 

The Dish: Lomi 

Location: Beside Manila Beauty Saloon, Al Jeleaia Street, Bin Omran 

Open from: 10:30 a.m. till 10:30 p.m.

$

A hot bowl of lomi is perfect for the current chilly weather!

With the massive influence of China on the Philippines' culture and cooking, there's no denying the fact that Filipinos love noodles! Sometimes, the majority of them even prefer sipping a hot bowl of finely-seasoned noodle soup over steamed rice -- doing so isn't only healthier, it's also way more scrumptious! Good thing, lomi, a dish made with a variety of thick, fresh egg noodles of about a quarter of an inch in diameter, soaked in lye water to give it more texture, is being widely served in Qatar -- the tastiest one available is in a restaurant called Little Manila -- where you can enjoy a bowl for the meagre price of QR 25! And, although variations in recipes and quality are common, they say that Batangas' (a province just a 2-hour drive away from Manila) is without a doubt the most mouth-watering!

The newly-opened Jollibee branch in Al Sadd.

Jollibee

The Dish: Chickenjoy and Pinoy-style spaghetti 

Locations: With branches across Qatar

Open from: 8:00 a.m. till 12 midnight

$$

Jollibee's signature combo -- the chickenjoy and spaghetti -- is every Filipino's ideal meal!

Of course, this list won't be complete without a sinfully-crispy fried chicken setting the bar high for its fellows. Usually teamed up with a Pinoy-style spaghetti -- which is often sweetened -- you'll never go wrong with Jollibee's well-known Chickenjoy! It's everyone's favorite, and it's not hard to see why! Regardless of having traveled all the way from the Philippines, the secret recipe to this darling dish hasn't changed a bit! Its aroma alone will make you want to order another two pieces (or more!) especially when you hear the inviting sound of its crunchy skin being chewed by the person sitting next to you. Hungry? It's oh-so cheap, so visit one of their branches today, and take a bite!

One of the very first branches of Chowking to open in Qatar is the one located in Al Khor Mall.

Chowking 

The dish: Halo-halo 

Location: With branches across Qatar  

Open from: 10:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.

$$

Imagine digging deep into this delectable halo-halo

Is there a better way to end a luscious meal than with a creamy dessert? True to its name, the halo-halo (mix-mix) is a combination of everything sugary and dulcet that you could ever think of! We have shaved ice as a base, sago, gulaman, nata de coco, ube, leche flan, sweet banana, and crunchy rice toppings in the middle, and of course, a scoop of an ice cream flavor of your choice to top it all off. What more can you ask for? (Except maybe another bowl?) Luckily, Chowking, the Philippines' largest Chinese restaurant has been long operating in various parts of Qatar. And guess what, you can score a large bowl of halo-halo for as low as QR 16!

Have you tried any of these Filipino dishes and restaurants? What are some of the other Flilipino food spots that you'd like to share with us? Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us if these dining recommendations were helpful to you! Also, don’t forget to like and share this article!

(Cover image courtesy of www.tastingtable.com)