Filipino restaurants aren’t very common in Japan, despite the country’s proximity. The Philippine islands are directly south of Japan, but the cuisine isn’t that popular, even in the heart of Tokyo. However, much like Japan, their foods utilize fresh and domestic produce.
Over their long tumultuous history, the Philippines was occupied by the Spanish, Japanese, and the United States, which resulted in a cuisine that is an amalgamation of these different cultures, but also uniquely something entirely different.
Here are five Filipino restaurants around Tokyo!
Nanay (nah-nai) means “mother” in Tagalog (tuh-gah-lahg), a common dialect of the Philippines. During lunch it is buffet style, including some dishes not pictured above. The buffet is a great way to sample many Filipino dishes but if that’s not your jam there is also a menu with dishes like caldereta or sisig. This small restaurant, with plenty of seating including a bar, can be hard to find from the street. Simply enter through the walkway of the Roppongi Forum building and New Nanay’s will be immediately to the right. The restaurant proprietors speak both Tagalog and Japanese, as well as English.
Pangaea Restaurant & Bar
Situated at the top of a slender building on the eighth floor, immediately through the door is a bar and kitchen. Beyond is an open floor with ample seating. Including another bar table with a look out the window for a skyline view. There is a full menu with many Filipino dishes. If you’re looking to taste many different dishes there’s all-you-can-eat on Saturdays. The sisig arriving true to menu sizzling and wrapped in a aluminum foil. There’s a raw egg cracked on top but it quickly cooks as it’s stirred in. Not unlike Mexican fajitas, but that’s where the similarity ends. They’re both crispy sauteed goodness but the flavor of sisig is robust and spicy and egg is a delicious addition. Spiced with bird’s eye chili, a small red pepper indigenous to the Philippines and can be quite hot.
Kantina Resto & Bar
Located on the sixth floor of the building, the proprietor speaks Tagalog, English, and Japanese. The menu is in Japanese and English. However, the Filipino names of dishes might be foreign but luckily there are also accompanying pictures. Sometimes there is a buffet which is 2000 yen including a soft drink. An extensive drink menu as well. There is a karaoke machine and an electronic dart board. There is all you can drink till 22:00 which is a limited menu of unlimited drinks for a certain time period. 4 drinks 1000 yen 60 minutes. 6 drinks 1500 yen 90 minutes.
A short walk from the Nishi-Ogikubo station, Ate is on the second floor of the building. “Ate” (ah-teh) meaning “little sister” is Tagalog. Ate has an extensive menu of Filipino dishes, some of which even this half-Filipina was unfamiliar with. There’s a map of the Philippines and a short blurb in Japanese about the tropical island country. The staff wear shorts that say “Pinoy Food” on the back. “Pinoy” is how Filipinos refer to themselves, much like Japan is Nihon.
This restaurant is a bit different from those previously listed. Its Filipino dishes are served as part of teishoku. This is a great option for those who want try Filipino foods but might be overwhelmed by the unfamiliar dishes. There are favorites like chicken adobo (the only Filipino food on the lunch menu), sinigang, and caldereta.
Although none are pictured, be sure to try out a Filipino dessert like halo halo (shaved ice), bilo bilo (pudding with tapioca and mochi), or boko (fruit salad with jello cubes). If you’re looking to drink, San Miguel and their off-shoot Red Horse is the only domestic beer of the Philippines but is offered in every place.