Filipino Restaurant Month: A Look At Filipino Cuisine


Canada’s first national Filipino Restaurant Month is kicking off in April, and select restaurants will be participating across Canada. We want to get in on the action by introducing you to some Filipino restaurants in Edmonton. If you’re new to the cuisine, here’s a rundown of all-things pagkaing pinoy (Filipino food).

filipino cuisine
Photo courtesy Manila Grill Express

A Brief History

Filipino cuisine has origins that are hard to pin down. There are reasons for this: colonialism, migration, and trade, to name a few. It’s no surprise that as people came, stayed, traded, and left, different ingredients and cooking methods influenced what we know to be Filipino cuisine today. While the cuisine shares some similarities with nearby countries like Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, in its use of curry, cumin, paprika, and coconut milk, many other cooking methods and ingredients came from Spain, China, and America.

Spanish Colonization

From 1521 to 1898, the Philippines was a colony of the Spanish Empire. That’s 377 years of influence and introduction of new cooking methods like braising and sautéing, and ingredients like garlic, onions, tomatoes, corn, and potatoes.

Chinese Migration and Trading

The 16th century also brought Chinese immigrants and traders to the Philippines. Again, new ingredients were introduced, like soy sauce, noodles, bean sprouts, tofu, and lemongrass.

American Influence

In 1898, the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain. Notable culinary influences from America include hot dogs, fried chicken, SPAM and other canned meats, sauces, and processed cheeses.

Filipino Cuisine Essentials

It’s important to remember that this history did not come without violence and hardship. By the time Philippine independence was achieved in 1946, Filipino cuisine was a complicated reflection of colonial history. Despite this complexity, many dishes have become essential to the cuisine.

filipino cuisine
Palabok. Photo courtesy of Filistix

Popular Filipino Dishes

Adobo: A braised meat stew with tangy flavours created from vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper, served over white rice.

Pancit: A classic Filipino noodle dish influenced by Chinese cuisine. It consists of stir-fried noodles with meat and vegetables. There are different types of pancit. Bihon, for example, is made with thin rice noodles. Palabok, on the other hand, consists of thin noodles with an orange sauce typically made of pork broth, shrimp cubes, ground pork, and annatto powder.

Lumpia: inspired by the Chinese spring roll, this dish combines meat, vegetables, and spices wrapped in a thin pastry sheet and deep-fried.

Sinigang: a sour meat stew using pork, chicken, beef, or fish. Tamarind (sampalok) is the key player in sinigang’s sour flavour. Traditional sinigang is served with vegetables such as okra, spinach, onions, and eggplants, over a bed of white rice.

Filipino Restaurants in Edmonton

Now that you’ve taken a quick crash course on pagkaing pinoy (Filipino food), here are some restaurants to check out in Edmonton!

Cebuchon & BBQ

    • This Southside Edmonton Filipino restaurant offers casual dining and authentic Filipino cuisine. It prides itself in having the best lechon (spit-roasted pig). There is a wide range of Filipino dishes, including some of the staples listed above like lumpia, pancit, and sinigang. Large platters are available so you can feed your entire family—big batches are a common practice because Filipino culture emphasizes family.
      Seafood Kare-Kare. Photo courtesy Max’s Restaurant
    • Max’s Restaurant

    • The Max’s Restaurant franchise began in 1945 with Maximo Gimenez and a small café in the Philippines that served chicken, steak, and drinks. There are now over 200 locations worldwide, with the first Edmonton location opening in 2014. Aside from its famous fried chicken, Max’s has all the Filipino staples. If you are looking for a Filipino delicacy, Kare-Kare, an oxtail peanut stew, is a must-try.
      • Manila Grill Express

      • This restaurant, founded by Nico and Aurea de Jesus, has been serving authentic Filipino cuisine to the Edmonton community since 2013. The flavours represented in the menu tell the story of the Philippine landscape, in particular, the province of Bulacan as ingredients garner both the land and the sea. You can check out one of the three locations in Edmonton to get in on this traditional—and delicious—Filipino food.

Palabok House

    • This restaurant located in South Edmonton has been serving the community since 1994. It combines both Filipino and Chinese cuisines, which is not out of left field when we consider Chinese influence on Filipino cuisine. The diverse menu covers all your classic Filipino and Chinese dishes. Palabok House also welcomes parties and functions for all your special occasions.
      Arroz Caldo. Photo courtesy Filistix

Rolymie Bakery

    • This cozy family-run Filipino restaurant has been proudly serving Edmontonians since 2001. Filipino baked goods are made from scratch and include different types of bread, snacks, and desserts. Pandesal, for example, is a sweet white bread roll made fresh daily. For a salty and savoury snack, you might want to try okoy. It’s a fried onion, celery, and beansprout cake served with homemade vinegar. Rolymie also offers party trays and full-size lechon to cater to your needs and occasions.


    • This Edmonton-based restaurant group explores flavours from the Philippines and Southeast Asia. What started as a food trailer in 2008 turned into two locations in Edmonton—one at the U of A and one downtown. Its downtown location has a bigger menu, serving breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner. The campus location has weekly features and four staple menu items: Chicken Adobo, South Pacific Coconut Chicken, Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato, and Thai Basil Beef.
filipino cuisine
Jolly Spaghetti and chicken. Photo courtesy of Jollibee

Kanto 98 St. Eatery

    • Located in downtown Edmonton, Kanto 98 St. Eatery brings a fun take on Filipino food. This small, cozy space is popular for its baos—think a soft, flat steamed bun filled with delicious ingredients, folded like a taco. It also serves garlic fried rice and Halo-Halo, a classic layered Filipino dessert that is typically made with shaved ice, sweetened beans, fruits, evaporated milk, and ube (purple yam) ice cream.


    • We couldn’t talk about Filipino food without Jollibee. You might recognize its famous bee mascot, a Jolly Bee, ready to greet you at the door. Jollibee officially opened its first Alberta location in Edmonton in 2019. Since then, three other locations opened in the city. The Jollibee franchise is only 43 years young, with the first restaurant opening in Manila in 1979. It’s safe to say that it has taken the world by storm, with thousands of locations opening across the globe. Notable menu items include Jolly Fried Chicken, Jolly Spaghetti (sweet spaghetti), and Palabok Fiesta. Other delicious items include the peach mango pie and pineapple quencher.

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