F&B / Opinion

Can Adobo Make Its Way To International Palate?

I have recently posted about the predictions on Food & Beverage Trends for 2016 and Baum+Whiteman have included Philippine Cuisine as part of their BuzzWords.

So, a question has been lingering in my mind – can Adobo make its way to international palate?

Chicken Adobo – image from pepper.ph

When I said Adobo, I meant Philippine Cuisine in general. It’s just that, Adobo is the most (if not the only) popular Philippine dish worldwide. Foreigners (unless they’ve been in the Philippines and have tried our cuisine) could only talk about Adobo unless they have Pinoy friends who have forced asked them to taste other dishes like Crispy Pata, Lechon Kawali or Pancit.

Philippine Restaurants are everywhere. Here in Dubai, there’s one in every corner and are always jam packed by of course, Filipinos.

I am a big fan of Betawi, an Indonesian Restaurant located in Karama here in Dubai. I visit at least once or twice a month and I always wonder why it was (and is) always full, not only of Indonesians but of foreign clienteles as well.

Filipino food has a lot of similarities with Indonesian food (or so as I thought) as they also have the sweet contrast to the salty taste. The difference is that, when they say spicy, they meant real spice.

Bihun Goreng, similar to our Pancit Bihon although their (Indonesian) Bihun is sauced up with sweet soya. – image from tripadvisor.uk

When I go to Pan-Asian Restaurants and look at the menu, the composition would always be a bit of Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and maybe some Japanese. When I go to 5 star hotels (here in Dubai), those four cuisines will always be present, if not, most of the times. I think, the only five star hotel in Dubai that has Filipino Restaurants is Asiana Hotel because it is an Asian Hotel and it lives to its concept.

I’m not saying that our cuisine is not popular or whatsoever. I’m just wondering if we could take it to the next level. I’m wondering if the Filipino Cuisine will also be as widely accepted and craved for by international clientele as much as they do for Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese Cuisine.

But to be able to take our cuisine to the next level, what else can we offer aside from our famous Adobo? What can we include in the menu if we were to create one for a fine dining Filipino Restaurant? Kare-kare? Sinigang? Sisig? Kilaw? Tinola?

I am also wondering if the Spaniards also love Filipino cuisine, because as from what I’ve heard, the Brits love Indian food and the Dutch love Indonesian food. (I’m talking about colonies-colonizers relationship here).

I’m not sure how international clientele would welcome authentic Filipino cuisine. A foreign friend gave a feedback about Tinola:

How do you eat chicken with water on rice?

Our famous and mouth watering Tinola, is just chicken with water for someone else.

Tinola – image from panlasangpinoy.com

If the Tinola  is too bland for a foreigner who eats Thai or Indian or Malaysian Curry, then that’s something we should look at. If Tinola is bland, then so it goes for the likes of Sinigang, Kilaw and Paksiw. For me, Tinola is heaven. But for people who loves to eat food with bursting flavors, then Tinola would just taste like water.

Could this be one of the reasons why we can’t penetrate international taste buds? That our authentic food is a bit bland for them?

And how about our boodle fights, street and exotic food? Could these concepts not take off too?

Boodle fight – image from choosephilippines.com

Is the boodle fight experience not exciting or interesting enough for adventurous foodies? Are our adidas or isaw or other street foods not good enough to be as popular as Singapore’s Hawkers? Or can’t our Pancit Malabon be an international favorite too like the famous Pad Thai?

Isaw – image from tumblr.com

Surely, there’s a way or another that Thai, Chinese and Malaysian cuisine has leveled up and became international favorites, but what could that be?

So my question here is, could Baum+Whiteman’s prediction that Philippine Cuisine will make a Buzz in 2016 come true? Can Adobo really level up and make its way to international palate? Can our Adobo pave way for Philippine Cuisine to reach international level?


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