Best of Miami

The Five Best Filipino-Inspired Dishes in Miami

Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern in 2012 proclaimed that Filipino food would be “the next big thing.” Fast-forward to four years later, and we’re still waiting for that “thing” to happen.

Compared to the popularity of restaurants featuring the cuisine of Philippine neighboring countries Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Japan, options for finding Filipino food in Miami are few and far between. Pinoys and fans of the fare from the Republika ng Pilipinas crave crisp and crackling lechon, deep-fried lumpia, garlic-laced fried rice, bistec Tagalog, and adobo — generally all on the same plate.

Thanks to hidden takeaway joints and modern pan-Asian eateries that have created their own new spin on classics, Miamians can get a glimpse of the vast cooking this archipelago of more than 7,000 islands has to offer, with flavors as vibrant and gracious as its culture.

You just need to know where to find them. So prepare to eat with your hands and fill your heart as you try five of the best Filipino-inspired dishes around town.

5. Banana Turon at Shokudo
The team behind World Resource Cafe and Toni's Sushi Bar have graced the Buena Vista area with their diverse selection of affordable Asian street food in a polished, quaint space. There’s nothing more satisfying than dessert, and Shokudo serves up a Filipino version called turon. Think sweetened roll. It’s packed with caramelized banana, jackfruit, chocolate, a slab of cream cheese, and caramel dipping sauce for a delectable handheld morsel to end your seamless Shokudo dining experience.

4. Papa’s House-Made Lumpia Shrimp & Pork Spring Rolls at Sakaya Kitchen
Spicy cheesy kalbi beef tater tots. Cracklin’ herb roasted duck. Bowls of bulgogi. This Korean fusion gold mine is all the rage in Midtown. But one plate worth sharing isn’t even Korean in nature — it’s Filipino. Drawing inspiration from his Filipino grandmother’s cooking, Chef Richard Hales fries up lumpia ($6) — Filipino-style egg rolls filled with shrimp, sautéed onion, celery, green beans, bean sprouts, and shredded pork that he curates and roasts for nearly 40 hours before serving. And it shows. Top it off with a dunk in a pool of fuji sauce and you’ll question the double-dipping dilemma.

3. Halo Halo at Talde Miami Beach
Straight from Brooklyn and Jersey City, Chef Dale Talde’s third Talde outpost continues to make waves at the Thompson Miami Beach since its opening less than a year ago. Guests get to enjoy the hip underground vibes and funky mashup of Asian cultures — including the Top Chef’s own Filipino-American roots — seen in the star dessert, halo halo. The popular Filipino meal-ender consists of shaved ice drenched in coconut milk, gelatin cubes, and other mix-ins, but Talde throws in fresh fruit such as mango, strawberry, blueberry and pineapple. It’s then topped with drizzles of matcha sauce and none other than everyone’s favorite childhood cereal, Cap’n Crunch.

2. Filipino Rice Bowl at Lan Pan Asian Café
Welcome to Lan Pan Asian Café, where locals and in-the-know visitors flock for their share of quality East and Southeast Asian eats at bargain prices. Located on the ground floor of Dadeland Station, Lan Pan Asian Café serves everything from sushi to spare ribs, but try the Filipino rice bowl during your next visit. For $13.95, tender braised pork, a fried egg, and pickled onions sit atop a bed of garlic fried rice — a breakfast staple in the Philippines. Except here, it’s fair game any time of day. Wash it down with one of many Taiwanese bubble tea flavors including taro, banana, coconut, lychee, and mango for the perfect cross-cultural Asian pairing.

1. Sizzling Pork Sisig at Lutong Pinoy
The No. 1 dish has your lips smackin’ and tummy rumblin’ as soon as you smell the made-to-order dish grilling in the back of North Miami Beach’s unassuming Filipino spot in a small strip mall (17048 W. Dixie Hwy.). Cooked with chilies, soy sauce, vinegar, and citrus, pork cheeks, ears, snout and other parts come chopped and sputtering, fajita style. The sizzling sisig ($9.95) is a cholesterol-laden dish of bold flavors and crisp and chewy textures that Filipinos and fatty-food lovers can’t get enough of.

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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.