Anthony Bourdain in Manila: 5 Spots Where Tony Ate
The capital of the Philippines, Manila is a city that Anthony Bourdain has visited more than once, and from the vast array of culinary delights on offer, it’s easy to see why the “pearl of the Orient” isn’t something that can be fully experienced in a single trip.
Maybe that’s why Anthony Bourdain filmed two episodes in Manila during his television career: episode 7 of season 5 of No Reservations and episode 1 of season 7 of Parts Unknown. These were his only two visits to the capital city, and part of his only two trips to the Philippines; he also visited other parts of the country, including Cebu and Pampanga.
If you’re planning a trip to Manila or the Philippines, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll break down the different places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Manila, including the restaurants and areas where he ate and what he ate at each one. Use this as a guide to plan your trip and you’ll soon be enjoying incredible Filipino food.
Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Manila?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV, and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV.
No Reservations (2008)
Tony’s first trip to Manila and the Philippines occurred in 2008, though the episode didn’t air until early 2009. The whole episode – “Philippines” – focuses on more than just Manila, but here’s where he ate during that part of the trip.
Beginning in the world’s oldest Chinatown in the neighborhood of Binodo, Anthony is joined by local blogger and Manila food guide extraordinaire Ivan Man Dy to explore the open-air hawkers market of Caravajal Street.
Here they try a variety of local street dishes, including chicken balls with vinegar and spicy sauce (no double dipping!), tofu with tapioca syrup, and pancit palabok, a short rice noodle dish cooked with annatto seeds, egg, pork rind, scallion, toasted garlic, and served with calamansi, a local Filipino citrus fruit that looks like a tiny lime and tastes like a slightly bitter tangerine.
Dampa Seaside Market
The next stop is the Dampa Seaside Market, a traditional Asian wet market where you can select your seafood fresh from the stall and have it cooked to order.
Tony’s choices include pinkabet (a northern Philippines vegetable stew with bitter gourd, long bean, squash, eggplant, okra, tossed with shrimp paste and pork), ginataang alimango (crab in coconut milk with chilis, a typical dish from the southern Philippines), and adobo shrimp cooked in soy, garlic, onions, pepper, and vinegar (considered the national dish of the Philippines, although there is no fixed recipe, more of a template).
Parts Unknown (2015)
Anthony Bourdain’s second trip to Manila and the Philippines focused more on the city itself for this episode of Parts Unknown. Returning to Manila over seven years later, Bourdain experiences different but no less iconic Filipino culture and cuisine.
Bourdain’s first stop is an iconic spot: Jollibee. The most popular fast-food establishment in the country, Jollibee’s mix of fun and frivolity makes for happy eating across their 900+ locations.
Tony chows down on their legendary Jolli Spaghetti with hot dogs, and their equally delicious fried chicken with rice, served with the ominous sounding but utterly enticing ‘brown sauce’.
Tony follows this with another traditional Filipino snack – halo-halo, an icy, milky, technicolor concoction of mung beans, candied fruits and gelatins that is a favorite dessert amongst the locals.
Super Six Bar + Grill
Bourdain next finds himself at the Super Six Bar + Grill, where he chows down on perhaps the most favored of Filipino street foods – sisig. Described as one of the best things to accompany an ice-cold beer, this sizzling dish of minced pork, chopped onion, and chicken liver is an institution amongst Filipinos after a night out.
Served here with a fried egg on top, sisig is akin to adobo in that there is no fixed recipe, and each individual version will likely have its own unique spin on the traditional structure.
Oarhouse Pub / Handlebar Bar + Grill / Local Meal
Following a quick pit stop at the Oarhouse Pub, and the Handlebar Bar + Grill (where he enjoys some more adobo (this time made with pork), Anthony finishes his trip to Manila at a private family gathering, where he is introduced to kare-kare.
This Filipino soup is often served at large parties and is made with tripe and oxtail in a peanut-flavored sauce, and this instance includes onions, garlic, peppercorns, banana blossom, eggplant, and green beans, served with rice and garnished with calamansi.
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Manila or the Filipino food he ate there? Let me know in the comments below!