Dubai: Barrio Fiesta – An introduction to Filipino Food

by Sanne
Barrio Fiesta, Filipino restaurant in Dubai

The two times I have eaten Filipino food earlier I haven’t had a clue about what I was doing. I didn’t know how to pronounce the names of the various dishes, and I certainly had no idea of what kind of food those funny words Bulalo, Goto and Sinigang referred to. When Rachel and I decided to have lunch today, I was therefore eager to convince her that we should go to a Filipino restaurant. Rachel is from the Philippines, and she loves food just as much as I do, and I cannot come up with any other person who would be better suited to help me navigate the Filipino cuisine.

Rachel suggested the restaurant Barrio Fiesta, located one floor up in the shopping center Bur Juman. Barrio Fiesta is a Filipino restaurant chain that was founded back in 1952 and has more than 50 branches throughout the Philippines.

I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the restaurant looked, since the other Filipino restaurants I’ve visited so far in Dubai have had a much more basic appearance.

I let Rachel do the food ordering and I couldn’t wait to see what would come to our table. My only veto was against Gulaman Sago. Gulaman Sago is a very sweet drink, which I had, when I dined at Bulwagang in Karama and which I really didn’t need to try again.

As an appetizer, we had Adobo Flakes, which was crispy deep fried shredded chicken marinated in adobo sauce (soy and vinegar). Rachel told that Adobo Flakes is a popular beer snack, and I can easily imagine how that would be a winning combination on a hot summer day.

Our main courses were Sinigang Hipon (a tangy tamarind soup with shrimp), Bistek Tagalog (braised beef with lime) and Manggang Sisig (a mango salad with shrimp paste). Tamarind is not really something you use when cooking in Denmark, and besides an unfortunate episode, where I mixed up tamarind with tahini in a hummus recipe I’ve had no previous experience with the sour fruit, but I really liked the tamarind soup, which tasted a bit like the Thai tom yum kung but without the chili.

After stuffing ourselves with all this tasty foods, none of us were really hungry anymore, but there’s always room for dessert, right? We therefore ordered a Leche Flan and a Halo Halo (which I was told is pronounced more like “Hallo Hallo” and not like the English word “Halo”). Halo Halo means “mix mix”, and the dessert was in fact a mixture of lots of things. Among other stuff, I spotted a bean, a slice of coconut and purple ice cream. I had a taste of this strange mixture but soon decided that it was definitely an acquired taste. Regarding the Leche Flan, it was love at first sight. It was a bit like Spanish flan (caramel pudding) and with a really rich and creamy taste. Yikes, it was good!

I’m getting more and more fond of Filipino food. I like the diversity and how all the different cultural influences during the years have left a mark on the cuisine. I’ve never been to the Philippines, but I’m seriously considering going there someday (and eat nothing but leche flan and adobo).

Barrio Fiesta is now permanently closed, but if you are curious about Filipino food, I can recommend Bulwagang in Karama or Lamesa at Asiana hotel in Deira

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