Filipino Street Food Lingo—Let’s Talk Yummy!

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Three quick questions for those curious about Filipino street food:

Are you on a budget?
Are you tired of typical restaurant dishes?
And does the idea of embarking on a local flavor trip whet your ready-for-anything palette?

If it’s a resounding oo (yes!) to all three, then you better try Filipino street food! Not only is the local street fare in the Philippines mura (affordable), it’s also malasa (tasty).

Filipino Street Food Facts

Filipino street foods are usually inihaw (grilled) or pinirito (fried). Inihaw na manok (grilled chicken) is first skewered then basted with a barbeque sauce that’s definitely nakaka-adik (addictive).

inihaw (grilled)
pinirito (fried)
inihaw na manok (grilled chicken)
nakaka-adik (addictive)

Fried savory street snacks on the other hand, are cooked in hot oil, then slathered with a smorgasbord of dipping sauces: matamis (sweet), maanghang (spicy) or maasim (sour).

matamis (sweet)
maanghang (spicy)
maasim (sour)

As savory as all this sounds, there is one particular controversial street food that’s (arguably) the tastiest of them all. It’s a misunderstood ready-to-eat snack that’s gotten a lot of bad press. It also has generated equal parts curiosity and, well, for the extremely food-sensitive, disgust.

What is it? Why, balut or balot, of course!
LET’S PRACTICE! SAY BALUT Balut. Ba-lut. Balut!


Good. Easy, right?

What Exactly Is Balut?

What’s all the buzz about balut? Balut or balot is a hard boiled egg with a half-term duck fetus inside.

Duck fetus. Yep, I know, It sounds gross initially, but it’s actually similar to chicken. Plus, many consider successfully eating it as a badge of honor when in the Philippines. Just check out the Youtube videos.

The humble balut went viral when the popular show ‘Fear Factor’ showcased it as a food challenge. The international interest made this relatively yummy street snack a spectacle of sorts and a tourist’s rite of passage.

While some would never eat this delicacy, there are adventurous foodies (like me!) who find it legit delicious. A young duck in a savory broth best eaten hot with rock salt on the side? Um, hello? Unique flavor bomb right there!

After slurping its soup, chewing on the soft meaty bird, then finishing off the creamy yolk, you just might be exclaiming that one adjective you will use most often in your Filipino food vocabulary:

Masarap! (Yummy!) Masarap is a Filipino word that means yummy, good (as in, food), tasty, or delicious.

Tagalog Fun Vocab Practice

Repeat after me: Mah-sah-rap. Masarap! Easy peasy.

Masarap (Yummy)
Masarap! (Delicious!)

Filipino Phrases with Masarap & Balut

After eating a delicious balut:
Masarap ang balut! (Balut is delicious!)

Masarap ang balut! (Balut is delicious!)

After eating balut and surprisingly enjoying it:
Grabe masarap pala ang balut! (Wow, I didn’t expect balut to taste so delicious!)

Grabe masarap pala ang balut! (Wow, I didn’t expect balut to taste so delicious!)

When you’re doubting if balut tastes good:
Masarap ba talaga ang balut? (Does balut really taste delicious?)

Masarap ba talaga ang balut? (Does balut really taste delicious?)

After eating balut and not just liking it, but loving it: Masarap talaga ang balut! (Balut indeed is delicious!)

Masarap talaga ang balut! (Balut indeed is delicious!)

Filipino Street Food: Balut Pro Tip

Can’t wait to try balut and see if it’s really masarap? If you’re squeamish or stomach-sensitive but willing to give it a go, just close your eyes, dunk the duck in spicy-sweet vinegar, and eat the balut whole. The textural and flavor experience is unlike anything else. Try it!

Who knows? You just might describe balut the way the late adventurous foodie, Anthony Bourdain, reportedly did:

Crunchy and… you got it. Delicious.


P.S. What other Filipino street food have you tried? Masarap ba? (Was it good?) Leave a comment below 🙂

Masarap ba? (Was it good?)

Marie Gutierrez

Filipino (Tagalog) is my native language, but with more than 15 years experience writing professionally in English, I am uniquely qualified to flex my semicolons to help others learn this magnificent language and let you in on cultural insights that you won't get anywhere else.

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