Even if you have limited experience with Indonesian food, there’s a chance you’ve at least heard of sate and nasi goreng. If you’ve been to Bali, then you’ve probably had your fair share of babi guling. But how many Indonesian desserts can you actually name?
Before spending time in Java and Bali, I could name one – cendol. Listed by CNN as one of the most delicious drinks in the world (though it’s really a dessert), this refreshing iced treat remains my favorite Indonesian dessert. But as you’ll soon see in this guide, it’s hardly the only sweet treat to look for in Indonesia.
From colorful kue to ginger-infused sweet soups like ronde, people with a sweet tooth will have lots to look forward to on their next trip to Indonesia.
INDONESIAN DESSERT QUICK LINKS
If you’re traveling to Indonesia and want to really dive into Indonesian cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a food tour or taking a cooking class.
Food Tours: Food Tours in Indonesia
Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in Indonesia
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MUST-TRY TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN DESSERTS
Cendol isn’t just one of my favorite Indonesian desserts, it’s one of my favorite desserts period. Like nuoc mia in Vietnam, it’s something I look forward to on every return trip to Indonesia.
This traditional Indonesian dessert is made with strands of green rice flour jelly, palm sugar syrup, coconut milk, and shaved ice. The word cendol refers to the curious-looking strands of green rice flour jelly but it can be made with additional ingredients like sliced jackfruit, durian, black grass jelly, and sweetened condensed milk.
On a hot day in Indonesia, nothing compares to a glass or bowl of cendol. Earthy and almost caramel-ly in sweetness thanks to the palm sugar syrup, it’s delicious and incredibly refreshing.
If you’re a fan of Filipino halo-halo like I am, then I’ve got a good feeling you’ll enjoy cendol too.
Photo by E Dewi Ambarwati
2. Kolak Pisang Ubi
Dessert soups are common throughout Southeast Asia and Indonesia is no exception. In the Philippines, you’ll find ginataan while in Vietnam, you can enjoy che.
Kolak refers to a family of traditional Indonesian dessert soups made with a base of coconut milk and pandan leaves sweetened with either palm sugar or coconut sugar. Depending on the cook, it can be made with a variety of ingredients like bananas, jackfruit, cassava, rice balls, and sweet potatoes.
Pisang means “banana” while ubi translates to “sweet potato”, so kolak pisang ubi refers to a delicious type of kolak made with bananas and sweet potatoes.
Photo by Ika Rahma H
If you aren’t used to the flavor of ginger, especially in a dessert, then the taste of this next Indonesian dessert soup may come as a shock to you.
Ronde is the Indonesian version of tangyuan, a traditional Chinese dessert made with glutinous rice balls served in a hot broth or syrup. It’s especially popular in Java where it’s consumed as a drink to warm you up during the colder winter months.
Indonesian ronde is made with rice balls of different colors and sizes served in a ginger- and pandan-infused syrup. The smaller balls are typically unfilled while the larger balls are made with a stuffing of ground peanuts and sugar.
Drinking the ginger syrup will make your throat feel warm and zingy. If you aren’t used to the taste of ginger, then it can be an odd sensation at first but it really does a good job of warming you up.
4. Pai Susu Bali
If you’ve been to the Island of the Gods, then you may be familiar with these tasty milk pies known as pai susu bali. Like pineapple cakes from Taiwan, it’s a popular snack that’s often brought home as a souvenir dessert from Bali.
Pai susu literally means “milk pie” and refers to an Indonesian custard tart that originated in Bali. Reminiscent of a Portuguese pastel de nata, it consists of a shortcrust pastry filled with a thin layer of egg custard and condensed milk.
Photo by Joseagush, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
5. Pisang Goreng
Fried bananas are a popular dessert or snack in the Philippines so we were naturally drawn to this Indonesian fried banana dessert called pisang goreng.
Pisang goreng literally means “fried bananas” and refers to a simple but delicious Indonesian dessert made with batter-coated bananas deep-fried in hot oil. It can be made with different types of bananas like pisang raja, pisang saba, or plantains.
Photo by kalkasandi.gmail.com
6. Kue Lapis Legit
In Indonesia, you’ll find a wide variety of dessert delicacies called kue (kuih in Malaysia). It’s a broad term that covers a spectrum of snacks that include bite-sized cakes, cookies, pies, fritters, and pastries. Like wagashi in Japan, I don’t completely understand what qualifies as kue because you’ll find so many of these small colorful snacks in Indonesia!
Based on what I’ve read, Indonesian kue is traditionally made with rice flour and coconut milk but these days, they’re often made with wheat flour and other dairy products as well. They can be sweet or savory; steamed, baked, or fried; and made with a wide variety of different ingredients. You see why it’s so confusing??
You’ll find a seemingly endless variety of kue in Indonesia but one of the most eye-catching is kue lapis legit. Also known as spekkoek, it refers to a Dutch-Indonesian layer cake made with flour, eggs, butter (or margarine), sugar, and spices. It’s a pretty but labor-intensive cake that typically contains over eighteen layers.
It’s worth noting that kue lapis legit is different from the similarly named kue lapis. The former is a baked layered cake while the latter is a steamed layered rice and coconut pudding made with glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and food coloring.
Photo by Kristina Ismulyani
7. Bika Ambon
If you visit Medan in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, then one dessert that you definitely need to try is bika ambon. It’s an interesting type of Indonesian honeycomb cake made with tapioca flour, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, and yeast.
Bika ambon is known for its distinctive cavities formed by yeast in the dough. As the cake bakes, the yeast creates bubbles that give bika ambon its unique sponge-like texture.
Traditionally, bika ambon is flavored with banana or pandan leaves but they’re now enhanced with other flavorings as well like mandarin orange, vanilla, chocolate, and durian.
Photo by Ariyani Tedjo
8. Kue Wajik
Sweet with a sticky palm sugar glaze, wajik is a popular type of kue made with glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, and palm sugar. Its name literally means “diamond cake” thanks to its parallelogram- or rhombus-like shape. This sweet and sticky rice dessert is traditionally cut into diamond shapes before serving, though it can be made into other shapes as well.
Known as pulut manis in some parts of Indonesia, wajik is often wrapped in banana leaves or dried corn husks and eaten as an afternoon snack. It’s also a common sight at Indonesian weddings because the sticky rice is meant to symbolize a “sticky” or lasting marriage.
Photo by Ika Rahma H
9. Kue Dadar Gulung
Desserts made with pandan leaves never fail to catch my eye (or nose). Fragrant and verdant, kue dadar gulung refers to a traditional Indonesian dessert made with thin rolled-up rice flour pancakes filled with grated coconut and palm sugar.
At first glance, you’d think these coconut pancakes get their bright green color from artificial food coloring, but they don’t. They get their coloration and aroma from pandan leaves which are often used as an aromatic ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. Aren’t they pretty?
Photo by tehcheesiong
10. Kue Ongol Ongol
Ongol ongol refers to a type of kue originally from West Java. Soft and bouncy in texture, you can think of it as an Indonesian version of mochi made with palm sugar, grated coconut, and starch.
Depending on the type of starch it’s made with, ongol ongol can take on slightly different names like ongol ongol hunkwe (mung bean flour), ongol ongol singkong (grated cassava root), and ongol ongol kanji (tapioca starch).
Photo by Eva Hidayah
11. Bingka Telur Pandan
As its name and color suggest, bingka telur pandan is one of many Indonesian desserts on this list made with pandan leaves. It’s a more colorful variation of bingka telur – a simple Indonesian cake made with flour, eggs, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla.
Bingka telur is delicious enough on its own but it becomes even better when enriched with the flavor and aroma of pandan.
Photo by Cholifahcho2
12. Kue Nagasari
Nagasari refers to a type of banana-stuffed Javanese steamed cake. A local favorite, it’s made by stuffing ripe banana slices into a rice flour and coconut milk batter, wrapping it in banana leaves, and then steaming.
The version of nagasari pictured below is colored white but this popular Indonesian dessert takes on a green color when made with pandan leaves.
Photo by Yun Octavia
13. Kue Putu
If you’re familiar with Filipino puto bumbong, then this next Indonesian dessert will sound familiar to you. Kue putu is made with pandan-infused rice flour that’s filled with palm sugar and then steamed in bamboo tubes. Like the Filipino version, it’s traditionally eaten with desiccated or grated coconut.
Kue putu is especially popular in Java where it’s known as, get this, putu bumbung. I can’t say for sure who influenced who but there’s clearly a connection. Finding these cultural connections through food is one of the things I enjoy most about travel.
Photo by Herman Suparman
These dessert bombs called klepon (or kelepon) are Indonesian sweet rice cakes filled with palm sugar and coated in grated coconut. I call them “dessert bombs” because they aren’t filled with just palm sugar – they’re filled with molten palm sugar! Biting into these delicious Indonesian desserts really does feel like an explosion of earthy sweetness in your mouth.
To prepare, small pieces of solid palm sugar are stuffed into a dough made with glutinous rice flour and pandan leaves. The dough balls are then boiled which melts the palm sugar and creates a molten core.
I’ll never forget the first time I tasted klepon. It was at a restaurant in Bali. Served warm, I didn’t know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised when my mouth was filled with an earthy sweet liquid after taking a bite. This sweet rice cake is absolutely delicious and easily one of my favorite Indonesian desserts.
15. Kue Bugis
Kue bugis looks similar to klepon except it isn’t made with a molten palm sugar core. It consists of a dough made with sticky rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and pandan extract. The dough is filled with a coconut sugar mixture before being wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed.
Photo by Rani Restu Irianti
16. Bola-Bola Ubi
Bola-bola ubi literally means “sweet potato balls”. It’s a traditional Indonesian street food snack or dessert consisting of deep-fried dough balls made with sweet potatoes, flour, and sugar.
Photo by Hanifah Kurniati
17. Putu Ayu
Putu ayu is another Indonesian dessert that originated in Java. It’s basically a steamed pandan cake made with flour, eggs, coconut milk, pandan leaves, sugar, and grated coconut.
If you look at the picture below, you’ll notice that the grated coconut isn’t sprinkled on top of the cake. What makes putu ayu interesting is that it consists of two layers – a green pandan layer at the bottom and a white top consisting of grated coconut.
Typically steamed in mini bundt cake or flower-shaped molds, ayu means “pretty” in Indonesian, which is a good way of describing this eye-catching two-tone Indonesian cake.
Photo by Rizvisual
Martabak manis is one of my favorite Indonesian desserts. It’s known as martabak in Indonesia but murtabak refers to a family of sweet and savory stuffed pancake dishes common throughout Southeast Asia and the Arabian peninsula.
In Indonesia, the savory version is known as martabak telur while the sweet dessert is called martabak manis. The latter consists of a thick sweet pancake topped with a wide variety of ingredients like chocolate, condensed milk, durian spread, bananas, matcha, and cream cheese. The martabak can be served as is or folded in half for easier eating.
This traditional Indonesian snack is one of the most popular street foods in the country. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding martabak no matter where you are in Indonesia.
Surabi (or serabi) is a traditional Javanese-Balinese snack or dessert similar to a pancake. Made from a batter of rice flour and coconut milk, it can be enjoyed in sweet and savory versions, much like martabak.
Sweet surabi is traditionally eaten with kinca – a coconut sugar topping made from grated coconut and liquid palm sugar. However, more modern versions are now made with a variety of different ingredients like jackfruit, durian, cream cheese, and chocolate sprinkles.
Last but not least is colenak, a simple but delicious Indonesian dessert hailing from the province of West Java. Like ronde, it’s something you should look for when you visit the provincial capital of Bandung.
The main ingredient in colenak is peuyeum or fermented cassava. The fermented cassava is roasted on charcoal before being served with kinca.
If you’re drawn to uncommon ingredients, then you should definitely try colenak. Interestingly, the name colenak is a portmanteau word for dicocol enak, which translates to “delicious dip”.
Photo by Sassi Photoworks
FINAL THOUGHTS ON INDONESIAN DESSERTS
To be honest, I prefer savory over sweet. Delicious Indonesian dishes like sate and babe guling will always be my jam but it’s nice to have refreshing desserts like cendol and klepon to enjoy right after.
With so many islands and provinces to visit, you certainly won’t run out of tasty desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth in Indonesia!
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Cover photo by Ariyani Tedjo. Stock images via Shutterstock.
We love Japanese food, which is a big reason why Japan is one of our favorite countries in the world to visit. It’s an endlessly fascinating country with delicious food on every corner. To be honest, I can’t recall a single time when I didn’t enjoy a meal in Japan!
We can’t get enough of savory Japanese dishes like sushi, ramen, and tempura, but traditional Japanese sweets are something you need to try as well. Be sure to look for these 20 popular Japanese desserts on your next trip to Japan.
JAPANESE DESSERT QUICK LINKS
If you’re traveling to Japan and want to really dive into Japanese cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a food tour or taking a cooking class.
Food Tours: Food Tours in Japan
Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in Japan
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WHAT IS WAGASHI?
Before we get into the list of the most popular Japanese desserts, I just wanted to talk briefly about wagashi. It’s a term you’ll see often when reading about Japanese desserts and confections.
Wagashi refers to traditional Japanese confectionery often served with green tea. They’re artfully crafted tea-time desserts made with different ingredients and fillings like mochi, sweet red bean paste, fruits, nuts, and agar jelly.
Depending on how and where they’re made, you’ll find a wide variety of wagashi in Japan, some of which will be covered in this Japanese dessert guide.
MUST-TRY TRADITIONAL JAPANESE DESSERTS
There’s no better way to start a list of traditional Japanese desserts than with mochi. This Japanese rice cake made from mochigome (Japanese glutinous rice) is an important festival food that’s been prepared in Japan for hundreds of years.
Mochi is a key component in seasonal festivals like the Japanese New Year but it’s commonly enjoyed throughout the year as well. Known for its wonderful sticky consistency, it’s made by pounding glutinous rice into a paste and then molding it into the desired shape. Mochi can be eaten on its own though it’s often made into other confections as well like wagashi and mochi ice cream.
Traditionally, mochi is made by two people that work in tandem to pound and wet the sticky sweet rice flour paste using a kine (wooden mallet) and usu (mortar). It’s a laborious but fascinating process to watch that you can still observe in some parts of Japan.
If you visit Nara, then I highly recommend looking for the Nakatanidou stall. Its owner – Mitsuo Nakatani – has a reputation for being the fastest mochi maker in Japan.
Sakuramochi refers to a type of wagashi made with pink-colored mochi filled with anko or sweet red bean paste. Wrapped in a pickled sakura (cherry blossom) leaf, this eye-catching confection is traditionally enjoyed in spring, particularly during hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day) and cherry blossom viewing events called hanami.
If you visit Japan in late March or early April – when the cherry trees are expected to bloom – then sakuramochi is one Japanese dessert that you should definitely look for.
Photo by nana77777
Daifukumochi (or simply daifuku) is another popular type of wagashi made with mochi. It consists of a ball or sphere of mochi stuffed with a sweet filling, most commonly red bean paste.
Aside from sweet bean paste, daifuku can be made with different fillings and ingredients like apricot, chestnut, mugwort, and ice cream. The irresistible version stuffed with a whole strawberry below is called ichigo daifuku.
Photo by nana77777
The Japanese are masters at turning food into art and rakugan is a perfect example of that. A type of wagashi, it’s made with soybean flour, sugar, and different powders pressed into traditional wooden molds called kashigata.
Rakugan can be made into different shapes, colors, and sizes to reflect seasonal or regional themes. They’re traditionally consumed with tea and are especially popular in parts of Japan with a strong tea ceremony tradition, like Kanazawa.
Photo by homi
Yokan refers to a popular type of wagashi made with agar. Typically sold and eaten in block form, this traditional Japanese dessert is commonly made with sweet red bean paste but it can also be flavored with white kidney bean paste and other ingredients like chestnuts, figs, and Japanese sweet potatoes.
Photo by fumi901
Dango refers to a type of wagashi made from uruchi and glutinous rice flour. A popular street food in Japan, it has a mochi-like consistency and is typically sold on skewers with different glazes and coatings.
Depending on how and what it’s made with, there are many types of dango in Japan like mitarashi dango (glazed with soy sauce), anko dango (coated in sweet red bean paste), and hanami dango (three-colored dango).
Pictured below is a skewer of miso dango from a popular stall in Osaka. As its name suggests, it’s coated in a tasty miso glaze.
7. Daigaku Imo
Daigaku imo refers to a simple Japanese dessert made with candied sweet potatoes. A popular snack since the early 1900s, they consist of Japanese sweet potatoes covered in a hard sugar candy coating.
Food trivia buffs may be interested to learn that the name daigaku imo translates to “university potatoes”. Daigaku imo became a popular snack at universities in Tokyo in the early 1900s, hence the name.
Photo by Chagiya_1.8.18
One of my closest friends is Japanese and he can’t get enough of these anko-filled Japanese sweets called imagawayaki. A popular street food in Japan, these pancake-like desserts are stuffed with a sweet red bean filling and cooked till crispy in disk-shaped cast iron molds.
Also known as kaitenyaki or obanyaki, imagawayaki are traditionally stuffed with red bean paste but they can be made with other fillings as well like vanilla custard, chocolate, and green tea. They can even be made with savory fillings like curry and cheese.
If you’ve been to Taiwan, then imagawayaki should be familiar to you. They’re known as wheel cakes in Taiwan and are a common sight at Taiwanese night markets.
Ocdp, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
If you like the crisp airy texture of wafers, then you’re probably going to enjoy monaka. It’s a traditional Japanese dessert made with sweet red bean paste sandwiched between two mochi wafers.
Made in different shapes and designs, monaka is traditionally filled with red bean paste but it can be stuffed with ice cream as well.
Photo by sasazawa
Walk around the busiest parts of Dotonbori and it won’t be long before you find stalls selling taiyaki. It refers to this familiar-looking fish-shaped pastry filled with (you guessed it) sweet red bean paste.
Like imagawayaki, taiyaki is traditionally filled with sweet bean paste but it can be stuffed with other ingredients as well like custard, chocolate, and cheese. In fact, you can think of taiyaki as a fish-shaped version of imagawayaki.
Taiyaki is shaped like red seabreem – tai in Japanese – hence the name. Tai is considered a symbol of good luck in Japan.
Every night before retiring to our hotel, we’d make it a point to stop at a konbini (Japanese convenience store) and pick up a few snacks to eat for breakfast the next day. This pancake-like Japanese dessert called dorayaki often made it into our shopping basket.
Dorayaki is a type of Japanese dessert or snack made with sweet red bean paste sandwiched between two small castella pancakes. I’ll talk about it more later in this guide but castella refers to a type of Japanese-Portuguese sponge cake that’s considered a specialty of Nagasaki.
Photo by Gatot Adri
12. Souffle Pancakes
If you like thick fluffy pancakes, then you’re going to love soufflé pancakes. They’re Japanese pancakes made with the addition of extra egg whites, hence the extra height and fluffiness.
Japanese pancakes are made by beating a meringue mixture into the pancake batter and then cooking it in metal rings at low temperatures. This is what gives the pancakes their characteristic height.
The Japanese pancakes pictured below are drenched in a milky cream sauce but they can be served with different toppings and ingredients like powdered sugar, sweet syrup, fresh fruits, whipped cream, and ice cream.
13. Japanese Cheesecake
Some people may not agree with this, but in my opinion, the Japanese make many dishes better. A case can be made for pizzas, burgers, and steaks and an argument can definitely be made for cheesecake. And a lot of that has to do with the quality of their dairy.
Hokkaido dairy is amazing. It’s known for its freshness and quality which is why dessert shops that use it let their customers know that their cakes and pastries are made with milk from Hokkaido. You can find many delicious Japanese desserts made with Hokkaido dairy like soft cream, custard, and cookies, but one of my favorites is Japanese cheesecake.
If you like cheesecake and are visiting Sapporo, then you absolutely need to try the double fromage cheesecake from LeTao. It could very well change your life.
14. Matcha Basque Cheesecake
The Japanese version of this famous Spanish dessert is another sweet treat that cheesecake lovers need to try. Originally from San Sebastian, Basque burnt cheesecake is a version of cheesecake that’s recently taken the world by storm. Unlike New York cheesecake that’s evenly firm throughout, the Spanish version is soft and fluffy around the edges and gooier towards the center.
In Japan, you’ll find a variety of desserts made with matcha powder like green tea mochi, green tea ice cream, and green tea cookies. One of my favorites is green tea Basque cheesecake. Gooey Basque cheesecake with that irresistible matcha flavor. Need I say more?
Photo by Papzi555
15. Mille Crepe Cake
It’s hard not to notice the many delicious Japanese pastries on display at dessert shops in Japan. Among the most eye-catching are these mille crepe cakes which are a common sight in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
I found it odd to see so many mille crepe cakes in Japan. I just assumed the locals were really into them but as it turns out, they were made famous by a Japanese woman named Emy Wada. She’s a pâtissier who studied in France and popularized mille crepe cakes at her Paper Moon Cake Boutiques in 1980s Japan. How cool!
Mille crepe cake literally means “thousand crepe cake”. Though it isn’t actually made with a thousand crepes, it refers to a Japanese cake made with a stack of crepes layered with different fillings.
Photo by sasazawa
16. Castella Cake
As briefly touched upon in the dorayaki section of this guide, castella cake refers to a type of sponge cake that was brought to Japan by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century. At the time, Nagasaki was the only Japanese port open to foreign commerce, which is how castella cake came to be known as a specialty of Nagasaki.
Castella cake is believed to be derived from the Portuguese dessert pão de castela. Meaning “bread from Castille”, the Japanese adopted the recipe and called it kasutera (castella).
17. Melon Pan
We can’t get enough of Japanese konbini pastries and melon pan (melon bread) is another of our favorites. Similar in appearance to Hong Kong pineapple buns, they get their name from their passing resemblance to cantaloupes.
Melon pan is made from enriched dough topped with a thin layer of crisp cookie dough. Traditionally, they aren’t flavored with melon, though it’s become fashionable for some manufacturers to add melon flavoring to the bread.
Other flavors and ingredients used to make melon pan include maple syrup, whipped cream, custard, and chocolate chips.
Photo by Cheezie Chicky Chick
18. Coffee Jelly
I’m a big coffee drinker so naturally, I’m drawn to anything made with coffee as well. Desserts like tiramisu and coffee ice cream get me weak in the knees but so does this refreshing treat called coffee jelly.
An old-school dessert, coffee jelly is made from coffee-flavored agar shaped into cubes. It can be enjoyed on its own, topped with fluffy whipped cream, or added to other drinks and desserts like ice cream floats, bubble tea, and iced coffee.
Photo by P-Kheawtasang
If you’re a fan of Korean bingsu, Filipino halo-halo, or Malaysian ais kacang, then you’ll probably enjoy kakigori as well. It’s a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with condensed milk and a variety of different syrups.
Similar to a snow cone but fluffier, popular kakigori flavors include cherry, strawberry, melon, green tea, and lemon.
Photo by Theerawan
20. Soft Cream
Last but certainly not least is soft cream. A common sight in Japan, this ubiquitous dessert is what the Japanese call soft serve ice cream.
Do you remember what I said about Hokkaido dairy making everything better? That’s the case with soft cream. It’s delicious anywhere in Japan but especially in Sapporo or anywhere else where it’s made with Hokkaido milk.
Vanilla-flavored soft cream is the most common but my favorite is the matcha flavor. It’s earthy and delicious, especially when made with green tea powder from Uji.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON JAPANESE DESSERTS
Like everything else in Japan, traditional Japanese desserts are delicious. Japanese people have the most exacting standards and that translates into everything they do, including their desserts.
If I were you, I’d try as many Japanese desserts as I could, but if I had to narrow them down to just three, then I’d say go for soft cream, mochi, and Japanese cheesecake. Those are three of my personal favorite Japanese desserts and something I’d look for on every return trip to Japan.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article on popular Japanese desserts as much as I had fun writing it. It’s already making me look forward to our next trip to Japan! Arigato gozaimasu!
This article on the most popular Japanese desserts contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, then we’ll earn a small commission at no additional expense to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by Chagiya_1.8.18. Stock images via Shutterstock.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Elise Ofilada shares with us 20 of her favorite South Korean desserts. Be sure to try as many as you can on your next visit to Seoul!
With the country’s current cultural grip on music, beauty, and entertainment, South Korea hardly needs any introduction. These days, it’s like there’s no person on Earth that hasn’t heard at least one BTS song. The unending fanfare over K-Pop and K-Drama artists is more than proof that the Hallyu wave, even after all these years, is just as strong and vibrant as ever.
Seoul, in particular, as the nation’s capital, has become a go-to destination for the average traveler. When I visited the city in 2017, I was already among the millions of tourists who excitedly explored its streets. From the scenic Cheonggyecheon River to the impressive Deoksugung Palace, I remember thinking that Seoul was one of my favorite places of all time!
But, aside from getting to visit many markets and historic sites, the best part about my trip to South Korea was all the Korean dishes and street food I was able to try. It’s definitely hard to go wrong with meals like cheesy street food lobster and spicy octopus with rice!
That said, there’s no beating the sweeter side of the Korean culinary experience. With ingredients ranging from shaved ice to sweet red bean paste, traditional Korean desserts are as delectable as they are versatile.
KOREAN DESSERTS QUICK LINKS
If you’re traveling to South Korea and want to really dive into Korean cuisine, then you may be interested in taking a cooking class.
Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in South Korea
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MUST-TRY TRADITIONAL KOREAN DESSERTS
This Korean rice cake (or tteok, as they’re traditionally called) is known for its decorative patterns that are made using either wooden, ceramic, or bronze rice cake stamps. Though the plain version of jeolpyeon is prepared by steaming and pounding non-glutinous rice flour, it can be infused with other ingredients – like mugwort powder – to add various flavors and colors.
Before being served, jeolpyeon is also brushed with sesame oil to prevent the sticky rice from clinging to each other, giving the dessert a subtle nutty taste. With a smooth, but stretchy consistency, these rice cakes make for a real sweet treat during special occasions, like weddings and tea ceremonies.
Photo by sungsu han
Songpyeon is another kind of rice cake that is traditionally served during the Chuseok festival. This comes as a way for Korean families to give thanks to their ancestors for blessing them with an abundant harvest. The rice cakes are typically shaped like half-moons as a symbol of oncoming luck, which is also why many Koreans make wishes while eating them.
The chewy texture of this sweet rice cake comes from the dough (made from non-glutinous rice flour) being steamed over pine needles (song meaning “pine tree” in Korean, hence the name). Fillings like sesame seeds and sweet red beans are often used but sometimes vary per region.
If you’re in South Korea during Autumn, don’t hesitate to enjoy this Korean dessert!
Photo by E Dewi Ambarwati
Just like jeolpyeon and songpyeon, jeungpyeon is a traditional Korean rice cake. It’s commonly prepared during Korea’s Dano festival or eaten during the summer. However, this dessert has a special ingredient that really sets it apart— its dough is mixed with makgeolli or Korean rice wine!
This alcoholic addition gives the rice cakes a soft, bubbly texture when it’s finally steamed and served. It can also be topped with various garnishes, like jujubes, chestnuts, and chrysanthemum petals.
Photo by becky’s
Known as the Korean mochi to older generations (as it’s probably derived from the famous Japanese dessert), chapssaletteok is a rice cake stuffed with sweet red bean filling. Its texture is both soft and chewy when you bite into it, thanks to the dessert’s outer portion being made of glutinous rice.
Chapssaletteok comes in a variety of colors, such as white, pink, and green. Ingredients like red food coloring and green tea powder are used to achieve this.
These Korean rice cakes are usually served during the winter season and are also given to university students taking their entrance exams as a way of wishing them good luck.
Photo by Image Republic
As a very popular dessert, injeolmi is possibly the most well-known of all the Korean rice cakes. While it’s another sweet snack made from glutinous rice, it can be distinguished by its dusting of soybean powder. That said, toppings like black sesame seeds, chopped pine nuts, and mashed red beans are also welcome, as they add complexity to the rice cake’s texture.
Additionally, injeolmi is known for its sticky texture. Because of its stickiness, it’s commonly gifted to newlyweds in the hopes that they will always “stick together”. Now, if you’re ever at a loss as to what to give your friends when they say their vows, why not order a batch of this delicious treat for their special day?
Photo by sungsu han
Though bukkumi originates from the Gangwondo province, these pan-fried rice cakes are also much-loved in Seoul. The dessert boasts both a gooey filling made of either sweet red beans or mung bean paste, and a crispy exterior that’s generously doused with honey syrup.
Made with (you guessed it!) glutinous rice flour, these rice cake dumplings are the kind of delicious dessert that instantly makes your mouth water. With its perfect balance of flavors and contrasting textures, I promise that you won’t regret grabbing one on your next trip to Korea.
Photo by miru.namu
With a name that stands for “medicinal confection” (due to honey being a prominent ingredient in ancient Korean medicine), yakgwa or Korean honey cookies might not sound all that appetizing. Don’t let its name put you off, though! This flower-shaped pastry is tastier than you might think, especially when it’s prepared on special occasions and paired with tea.
Traditionally, yakgwa’s dough is made with ingredients like wheat flour, ginger juice, and sugar syrup. It’s cut into different sizes (i.e., small, medium, and large), deep fried, soaked in honey, and dipped in cinnamon powder.
If you’re ever craving for a piece, but don’t want to wait in line at a teahouse, yakgwa can also easily be found in an average Korean grocery store.
Photo by Ika Rahma H
Speaking of tea, dasik are bite-sized, gluten-free Korean tea cookies that were introduced by China to the Korean dynasty. They have a light, earthy, and sweet taste, owing to the fact that their finely ground, all-natural ingredients are mixed with honey.
A wooden or porcelain press (called daskipan) is used to embellish the cookie with a design or pattern that symbolizes wishes for good luck, health, happiness, etc. Typically, a plate of these cookies will come in an assortment of colors (namely green, yellow, pink, black, and white), each representing a different flavor.
Photo by Image Republic
9. Goguma Mattang
Crunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside, this sweet and savory dessert is best enjoyed during fall or winter.
Goguma mattang, also known as candied sweet potatoes, features deep-fried Korean sweet potatoes coated in caramelized sugar. The dish is said to have originated from China, but evolved in technique once it came to Korea.
It’s also similar to a Japanese dessert called daigaku imo and pairs well with a warm cup of tea.
Photo by PK289
Involving only two ingredients, gotgamssam is prepared through what is probably one of the easiest Korean dessert recipes out there.
The simple snack is essentially made up of walnuts that are tightly wrapped in dried persimmons. The combination makes for a lovely snack to share with house guests, especially for those who avoid eating gluten or too much sugar.
Don’t forget to ask for some if you’re visiting a Korean friend at home!
Photo by nickichen
Though originally created in 1934 by a couple who lived in the city of Cheonan, this tasty dessert was only popularized in Seoul during the 1970s.
Essentially, hodu-gwaja is a pastry that’s been filled with chunks of walnuts and red bean paste. Nutty on the inside and out, its dough is prepared with pounded walnuts mixed with wheat flour.
You can often find this treat at Korean train stations or rest stops.
Photo by CHALLA_81
12. Yeot Gangjeong
One of the many Korean desserts eaten during the holidays, yeot gangjeong can be described as a candy bar that’s primarily made of chopped, unsalted nuts (though other ingredients, such as toasted seeds and beans, can also be included). The bar is held together by mullyeot (Korean rice syrup), which makes the treat sticky, but not too sweet.
Traveleaters looking for a light, but tasty snack are sure to love munching on yeot gangjeon.
Photo by RJ Art
You might have already heard of this Korean dessert thanks to the hit Netflix series – Squid Games.
Often sold by street vendors to children, it’s a sort of honeycomb toffee that’s made by mixing, heating, and allowing sugar and baking soda to harden. The resulting candy is a flat, brittle disk with a sweet and smoky caramel taste that’s perfect for snacking on.
Additionally, while dalgona can be eaten as is, it’s usually embossed with a shape (like an umbrella, heart, or star) that you’d have to eat around without breaking. Many of the young and young-at-heart love to partake in this fun little challenge, sometimes with the help of toothpicks or pins.
Photo by Nina Firsova
Bungeo-ppang is a Korean fish-shaped pastry that’s largely enjoyed during the winter.
If you’re feeling skeptical, no need to worry! Despite its appearance, it harbors no actual seafood flavors. In fact, its commonly loaded with sweet red bean filling inside (though some street vendors offer a variety of fillings).
Cooked in a special fish-shaped waffle iron and served hot, this delicious treat is sure to hit the spot during a cold adventure around the streets of Seoul.
Photo by Izlan Somai
15. Honey Bread
One of the more modern Korean desserts that have become widely available, honey bread is a strong contender for the title of ultimate comfort food. The dish consists of a thick square piece of buttered bread that’s been pan-fried and finished off with toppings like whipped cream, ice cream, cinnamon, and (of course) a generous drizzle of honey.
Served frequently in cafes all across the country, honey bread is bound to satisfy any sweet tooth’s cravings. While you could surely share a plate of the sweet treat with a number of your travel buddies, I’d recommend devouring a whole serving all by yourself!
Photo by Sonim
Your experience of Korean desserts wouldn’t be complete without a taste of kkwabaegi. Fortunately, a fresh batch of these twisted doughnuts can be easily found in the average neighborhood bakery or at a street vendor’s stall.
With a fluffy and spongy texture that’s best enjoyed while warm, it’s a snack that will have you hooked on your first bite. Kkwabaegi is often dusted with powdered sugar and also pairs great with a tall glass of milk.
Photo by Yeongsik Im
Bingsu, a traditional Korean shaved ice dessert, is one of the best dishes to eat during the hotter parts of the year. Traditionally topped with sweetened condensed milk, a variety of fruits, red beans, and the like, bingsu can be customized to suit even the pickiest Traveleater’s taste.
From injeolmi to persimmons, melons to mangoes, the possible flavor profiles of the dessert are endless. More modern restaurants and franchise chains sometimes add less traditional ingredients, like yogurt, coffee, and matcha powder.
Personally, my favorite type of bingsu is loaded with chocolate!
A traditional Korean drink that’s typically prepared during the hot seasons, hwachae is a kind of punch that’s made with fresh fruits or edible flower petals. It’s traditionally made by soaking the fruits in either honeyed water or magnolia berry juice, though modern versions use carbonated drinks instead.
This refreshing drink should be served in a glass bowl and ladled with a spoon for maximum summer vibes. Remember to take a sip before you go out and explore Seoul’s many attractions.
Photo by sri widyowati
One of the first modern Korean desserts I ever tried was Melona, a staple in convenience stores even outside of South Korea. Because of its delicious creamy flavor, I quickly learned that there’s no need for mountains of shaved ice, or even an overly fancy ice cream machine, when you’ve got this pastel-colored rectangular popsicle waiting for you in the freezer.
The famous ice cream is most known for its melon flavor, though it comes in other fruit flavors as well (e.g., strawberry, banana, mango, etc.). A product of the Binggrae company, it’s a sweet treat that can be enjoyed by Traveleaters of all ages.
Just a warning, though: Once you try a stick, it can get pretty addicting. So, when you find yourself at your local Korean market, always remember to grab two or more!
“Melona Ice Cream” by John Ong, used under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped, Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Capping off our list of delicious desserts is sujeonggwa, a Korean cinnamon punch. This dessert drink is known for its cinnamon-and-ginger-y fragrance, achieved by boiling the ingredients with a mixture of brown sugar and water.
Garnishes, such as pine nuts and dried persimmons, are likewise added to the liquid to give the punch the right hint of fruitiness. Additionally, the punch is known for its health benefits, like helping with better digestion and fighting off common colds.
Whether it’s served hot or cold (depending on your preference), you can definitely expect a special drink like sujeonggwa to always do more than just quench your thirst.
Photo by Ika Rahma H
FINAL THOUGHTS ON KOREAN DESSERTS
Food is an aspect of Korean culture that is widely celebrated all over the globe. Online, there are millions of blogs, videos, and social media accounts that are dedicated to showcasing the country’s amazing cuisine.
With desserts, specifically, there’s no overstating just how much people love what South Korea has to offer. Be it shaved ice, rice cakes, or doughnuts, you will be bombarded with unending vouches for their delicious flavors.
So, when you’re out for a night of soju and K-BBQ, don’t forget to save some space – you never know what sweet treat could be waiting for you in the cafe across the street!
In the end, a visit to Seoul would be incomplete without a taste of its delightful desserts.
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Cover photo by Nina Firsova. Stock images via Shutterstock.
Like Palawan and Boracay, Bohol has long been one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. From its beautiful beaches and churches to its unique attractions like the tarsiers and Chocolate Hills, there’s something for everyone in Bohol.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Bohol every year, so it only follows that there’s plenty of good food and fresh seafood to be found on the island. If you’re planning a trip to Bohol, then here are thirteen restaurants and cafes that you may want to visit.
BOHOL RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your trip to Bohol, we’ve compiled links to popular hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Top-rated hotels on Panglao Island, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Bohol.
Luxury: Amorita Resort
Midrange: Blue Planet Panglao
Budget: Hope Homes
Sightseeing Tour: Countryside Day Tour
Day Trip: Pamilacan Island Day Tour
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Wifi and Sim Cards
BOHOL TRAVEL GUIDE
Before visiting Bohol, be sure to check out our in-depth Bohol travel guide. It’ll have all the information you need – like when to go, what to do, where to stay, etc. – to help you plan your trip.
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THE BEST BOHOL RESTAURANTS
The term “Bohol” refers to a province in the Philippines comprised of Bohol Island and several smaller surrounding islands, most notably Panglao Island. Tagbilaran City is the capital of Bohol province but most tourists stay and spend the majority of their time in Panglao.
As such, this guide focuses on restaurants in Panglao, but I will give a few recommendations on where to eat in Tagbilaran City at the end of the article. You can jump to the location map to see exactly where these restaurants are in Bohol.
1. The Glebe Coffee
What better way to start your first full day in Bohol than with a cup of good coffee? Many reviewers have called the coffee at The Glebe to be the best in Bohol. They may be right.
I stick to Americano but their flat white comes highly recommended. The iced Spanish latte was excellent too.
The Glebe Coffee is located along the main road, near Henann Resort and Alona Beach. They open bright and early at 7AM.
The Glebe Coffee
Address: 6340 Panglao Island Circumferential Rd, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 7AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Coffee
2. Overgrown Cafe & Bar
Located right next to highly-rated Garlic n’ Lemon Bistro (#5), Overgrown Cafe and Bar is a relatively new coffee shop that makes excellent coffee and cocktails.
We came here after lunch so I had the affogato while my significant other started the weekend early with a gin and tonic. They make their gin and tonic with Tanqueray gin.
Here’s a closer look at my affogato. If coffee or cocktails aren’t your thing, Ovegrown offers tea and shakes too.
Overgrown Cafe & Bar was one of the most artfully decorated places we visited in Bohol. You’ll understand why it’s called “Overgrown” in the next picture.
One wall of the cafe was filled with plants. I loved the natural textures and wabi-sabi feel of the place.
Overgrown seems to be a popular cafe with digital nomads. At the time, there were several people there working on their laptops.
Overgrown Cafe & Bar
Address: Ester A. Lim Drive, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 6AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Coffee, cocktails
3. Common Crew Coffee Roasters & Brewers
Speaking of digital nomads, people looking for a good place to work need to check out Common Crew. It’s a co-working space located along Tawala Road, in a quieter part of Panglao Island.
We recently visited Boracay and I was frustrated by the island’s poor internet and lack of co-working spaces. No such problems in Bohol. At Common Crew Coffee Roasters & Brewers, digital nomads can work for 3-6 hours while enjoying excellent coffee and pastries.
I had a long black and a brownie, both of which were very good. This was probably the best cup of coffee I had in Bohol.
Common Crew offers two co-working packages – 3 hrs for PHP 200 and 6 hrs for PHP 350. You’ll have the option of getting unlimited brewed coffee or a cup of barista-prepared coffee with either package.
Common Crew Coffee Roasters & Brewers is located along Tawala Road. You can check out the location map at the bottom of this article to see exactly where it is on the island.
Common Crew Coffee Roasters & Brewers
Address: Tawala Road, Purok 2, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Thurs-Tues (closed Wednesdays) What to Order: Co-working packages
4. Bohol Bee Farm
Bohol Bee Farm is one of the most iconic restaurants in Bohol island. More than a restaurant, it’s an eco-resort that offers accommodations and an opportunity for curious guests to learn about beekeeping and organic farming.
We didn’t go to Bohol Bee Farm on our most recent trip but pictured below are a few dishes from a previous visit, starting with this free appetizer of cassava chips with bread and two dips.
It may not look like a classic taco but this cassava fish taco was fantastic. Many of the dishes served at Bohol Bee Farm are made with ingredients grown in their very own organic garden.
Bohol Bee Farm has great salads and vegetable-centric dishes, but they do have many other offerings as well like brick oven pizzas, burgers, pasta dishes, and sandwiches.
This cheese pizza was decent but you may want to go to Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast (#6) instead for any Italian food.
If you need ice cream in your life like I do, then you have to try Bohol Bee Farm’s malunggay ice cream. Served in a cassava cone, it’s the restaurant’s house specialty ice cream.
Malunggay is the Filipino word for “moringa”, a type of tree whose leaves are used as a vegetable in many savory Filipino dishes. Malunggay isn’t commonly used in Filipino desserts so it’s something you should try if you’re looking for something a little less conventional in Bohol.
Aside from the interesting food, what makes Bohol Bee Farm special is the space itself. Wait until you see the view from the restaurant.
If you come early enough, then maybe you can get a table that offers this view. Isn’t it breathtaking?
There’s lots more to see at Bohol Bee Farm so check out the full article for more pictures and information.
Bohol Bee Farm
Address: Dao, Dauis, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 8AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Farm saladas, vegetables, roasted chicken, malunggay ice cream
5. Garlic n’ Lemon Bistro
As of this writing, Garlic n’ Lemon Bistro is the number one rated restaurant on Tripadvisor. They serve delicious food – mostly from different parts of Southeast Asia – but they do offer a few salads and pasta dishes as well.
This appetizer of calamares with chili sauce was very good.
This red curry was delicious. We had it with shrimp but you can get it with chicken or a mix of fresh seafood as well. Rich and creamy, they pair it with rice but I would have loved it served in a sourdough bread bowl ala clam chowder.
Garlic n’ Lemon Bistro is a small restaurant tucked away on a side street just off the main road.
I wish we had gotten a picture with him but the restaurant is owned by a super friendly guy who loves chatting it up with his customers. At the end of the meal, he asks everyone what they thought of the food. Clearly he cares, which is always a good thing.
Garlic n’ Lemon Bistro
Address: Easter lim drive, Aluna, Panglao, 6325 Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 11:40AM-3PM, 5:30-9PM, daily What to Order: Asian food
6. Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast
We enjoyed our first meal at Giuseppe several years ago. Back then, they already had a reputation for being the best Italian restaurant and pizzeria in Bohol. Fast forward to 2023 and by many accounts, they still are.
Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast is owned and operated by an Italian chef from Sicily. They do typical Italian fare like pizza, parmigiana, and pasta and they do it very well.
I don’t know if this dish is still available but pictured below is Giuseppe’s carpaccio di bue. It’s a delicious starter of thinly sliced raw beef topped with iceberg lettuce, olives, capers, marinated mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
I usually go for tomato-based pasta dishes but I can never refuse Giuseppe’s eggplant parmigiana. It’s another tasty starter made with eggplant baked with tomato sauce and mozzarella and drizzled with Parmesan cheese. Serious yum.
Giuseppe offers many delicious wood-fired pizzas but if you like anchovies, then you may want to get the Lorenzo. It’s made with mozzarella, anchovies, fresh tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and basil.
The restaurant is in its own building along the main road so it shouldn’t be hard to spot. This picture was taken a few years ago so the interior may have changed since then.
You can check out my article on Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast for more pictures and information.
I loved this restaurant. If you’re in the mood for familiar Filipino cuisine, but with a twist, then Sisa Bistro is the place to go in Bohol. It’s the type of restaurant we’d go to again and again until we’ve tried everything on their menu.
Thankfully, we ate at Sisa with my family so we got to try many delicious dishes, starting with this chicharon bulaklak appetizer they call Chichay. If you’ve never heard of chicharon bulaklak, it’s a popular Filipino bar chow dish of deep-fried pork mesentery. Not the healthiest dish but absolutely delicious, especially when paired with ice-cold beer.
If fried pork mesentery is too extreme for you, then perhaps you’d like to try this starter called Cha Pusit instead. It consists of deep-fried whole baby squid served with a wasabi mayo dip.
This spicy main dish called Leonor is made with pork strips cooked in coconut cream, chili, and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).
If I remember correctly, this next main dish is called Caridad. It consists of beef chunks slow-cooked in a red curry sauce and then served over rice.
This is the restaurant’s house specialty. It’s called Corazon and consists of fresh bamboo blossoms cooked in coconut milk. We got it with shrimp but you can have it with tofu as well.
This is another Sisa specialty. Called Adonis, it’s the restaurant’s take on classic Filipino adobo.
Unless I’m mistaken, this next dish is called Tiago. It’s made with tofu and eggplant stewed in a green curry sauce.
For dessert, we had the Flora which is Sisa’s take on panna cotta. It’s flavored with kafe barako (coffee from Batangas) for a jolt of caffeine after a coma-inducing meal.
Sisa Bistro is located along New Airport Road, in a small strip-mall-like building not too far from the airport. Unless you were looking for it, you’d probably never find this place which is a shame because it’s arguably the best Filipino restaurant in Bohol.
Address: Buona Vita Plaza, Purok 2, New Airport Road, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Chichay, Corazon, Adonis
8. Pearl Restaurant (Linaw Beach Resort)
We ate at this restaurant a few years ago but I still remember it like it were yesterday. Pearl is the restaurant at Linaw Beach Resort, an off-the-beaten-path hotel along Danao Beach, about 3 km (1.9 miles) west of Alona Beach.
Pearl Restaurant has an extensive menu with good food, but what makes dinner here truly special is the view. You’ll see what I mean below.
What you’re looking at here is a juicy chunk of ostrich steak drenched in mushroom sauce and served with a side of boiled vegetables.
Pictured below is their Australian rib eye with a side of boiled vegetables and potato croquettes.
This is what makes dinner at Pearl Restaurant memorable. Located far enough away from the crowds of Alona Beach, you can enjoy a quiet romantic sunset dinner with your significant other right on the beach.
Pearl doesn’t serve fine dining cuisine but you can enjoy a good steak with a bottle of wine while gazing out at the Bohol sunset. You can check my article on Pearl Restaurant at Linaw Beach Resort for more pictures and information.
Pearl Restaurant (Linaw Beach Resort)
Address: GQX2+5VF, Linaw Rd, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 6AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Continental food
9. Bollywood Resto & Bar
We asked a friend who frequently vacations in Bohol for restaurant recommendations, and the first place she mentioned was Bollywood Resto & Bar. Indian food is one of our favorites so we were more than happy to go. As it turns out, she was right.
Bollywood offers many meat and vegetarian Indian options like biryanis, curries, and tandoori dishes. They even have pani puri which I haven’t seen too often at Indian restaurants in the Philippines.
They offer several biryani dishes but we went with our favorite mutton biryani. It was delicious.
I’m a predictable guy. If I see tikka masala or butter chicken on an Indian restaurant’s menu, then I’ll order it. Tonight, we went with the chicken tikka masala and it didn’t disappoint.
No Indian curry is ever complete without good naan bread to dip into it. The trio of curry, biryani rice, and naan bread is a menage a trois made in heaven.
Bollywood Resto & Bar is conveniently located along the main road, not too far from Alona Beach.
People looking for authentic Indian food will be pleased to learn that Bollywood appears to be owned by an Indian family. The person who took our order was Indian, and at the time, most of the customers were Indian as well.
A common thread in their reviews is that they serve good food but in small portions. I can’t argue with that but we enjoyed the experience nonetheless. The service was great too.
Bollywood Resto & Bar
Address: HQ2F+XCV, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines What to Order: Indian food
10. Kun’s Stick and Bowl
Spend a day on Panglao Island and it becomes clear that Koreans are the dominant nationality of tourists in Bohol. You can’t walk 5 minutes without passing a restaurant that serves Korean cuisine!
We love Korean food so it was important for us to add a Korean restaurant to this guide. Thankfully, we found Kun’s Stick and Bowl, a restaurant that offers ala carte Korean dishes and unlimited samgyupsal for just PHP 390 per person.
Unlimited samgyupsal is a popular and hugely successful concept in the Philippines so it wasn’t surprising to find it here, especially since so many Koreans visit Bohol.
Kun’s Stick and Bowl is located more inland, in a quieter part of Panglao Island. You can walk from Alona Beach but it may be better to hire a tuk-tuk to take you there.
We were in Bohol in December and it was very difficult to secure a reservation at Kun’s Stick and Bowl. I suggest calling ahead before going.
Kun’s Stick and Bowl
Address: Purok 2, Brgy. Tawala, Municipality, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Unlimited samgyupsal
Sushihan is owned by the same group as Sisa Bistro. As their name suggests, they offer different types of specialty sushi rolls along with sashimi and a few rice bowls.
On their sushi menu are the usual suspects like California maki, Philadelphia roll, dragon roll, and rainbow roll. If I remember correctly, the two rolls pictured below are the spicy tuna roll and spicy salmon roll. Most of the rolls at Sushihan are made with tuna, salmon, crabstick, or shrimp.
Sushihan’s rolls are decent but what I really enjoyed was this tempura bowl. It contains four pieces of shrimp tempura along with some okra and eggplant tempura served over rice.
Sushihan is located in this building along the main road, in one of the busiest parts of Panglao Island.
Sushihan is a lovely restaurant but it’s small and can fill up quickly during peak seasons. I suggest going at slightly off-peak hours for a shorter wait.
Address: Panglao Island Circumferential Rd, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Sushi rolls, tempura bowl
There’s no shortage of delicious food on Panglao Island, but Bougainvillea was hands down our favorite restaurant in Bohol. It’s a tapas and paella restaurant owned by two Spanish guys (from Seville if I remember correctly) who import many of their ingredients from Spain.
We were celebrating our wedding anniversary in Bohol so we wanted to have dinner at the perfect restaurant. From start to finish, Bougainvillea delivered.
We started our meal with this chorizo Iberico platter. It contains 100 grams of cured Iberian pork chorizo served with toasted bread and a tomato spread.
When we visited Santiago de Compostela, one of the Spanish dishes that made the biggest impact was polbo á feira. It refers to a Galician-style octopus dish seasoned with loads of paprika. Also known as pulpo a la gallega, the version at Bougainvillea was just as good as any we had in Spain.
There are many interesting tapas dishes at Bougainvillea but it’s hard to go to a Spanish restaurant and not order gambas al ajillo!
This is another must-try. It’s called fritura and it consists of Andalusian-style fried baby squid and marinated sardines served with aioli. ¡Riquísimo!
Bougainvillea offers four types of paella served in three sizes. What you’re looking at below is the classic paella de marisco (seafood paella).
This is arguably one of the best paellas you’ll find anywhere in the Philippines. They make it with a thin layer of rice so it cooks perfectly and creates a layer of crunchy socarrat (scorched rice) at the bottom. This was AMAZINGLY delicious.
Bougainvillea is one of several restaurants located in a plaza near Alona Beach. When you have two Spanish guys running the place, you know it’s going to be good. I highly recommend enjoying at least one meal here.
Something to note, reviewers who know Spanish food heap praises on Bougainvillea but people who aren’t as familiar with tapas often complain about the small portions. Just know that the tapas portions here are the same as what you’d find anywhere in Spain.
Address: Rue de premiere Near Alona parking lot, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 5-9PM, Tue-Fri / 12-12:30PM, 5-9PM, Sat-Sun (closed Mondays) What to Order: Tapas, paella
13. Cafe Snow Park
Korean food is delicious, but so are Korean desserts. When it comes to Korean sweet treats, there’s no dessert more popular than bingsu. It’s a delicious dessert made with finely shaved ice topped with different ingredients like fresh fruit, red beans, syrup, and condensed milk.
Philippine mangoes are world-famous so the mango bingsu was an easy choice. As expected, it was delicious.
We went back a second time and tried the milk tea taro bingsu. It was good too though I still preferred the mango.
Cafe Snow Park is located on a busy side street just off the main road. Filled with restaurants on both sides, it’s the street people usually take to get to the beach.
It’s worth noting that my sister-in-law ordered mango bingsu the very next day and said that the mangoes weren’t as sweet. Just something to keep in mind if you’d like to try anything made with fresh fruits.
Cafe Snow Park
Address: GQXC+QR5, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Bingsu
To help you find these Bohol restaurants, I’ve pinned them all on a map. Click on the link to open a live version of the map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN BOHOL
Aside from the restaurants featured in this guide, you’ll find many more options pinned on the map above.
If you’re a vegetarian, then you may want to visit Shaka. This vegetarian restaurant serves delicious smoothie bowls, burgers, and sandwiches made with vegan ingredients.
If you want Italian food but don’t eat meat, then another good vegetarian restaurant to visit is Luna Rossa. They’re known for many delicious vegetarian dishes, including the popular Spring Lasagna made with homemade pasta sheets filled with eggplant, pumpkin, and mushroom.
One restaurant we wanted to go to but couldn’t find the time for was Barwoo. It’s an interesting Asian fusion restaurant that serves Korean food and other Asian-inspired dishes. Their seafood fried rice is a bestseller, as is their jjampong pasta which is a type of Korean spicy seafood noodle soup.
This Bohol restaurant guide focuses on Panglao Island but if you plan on exploring the capital, then we have a few recommendations for Tagbilaran City as well.
The Prawn Farm restaurant inside Island City Mall is a local favorite. All-you-can-eat buffets are popular in the Philippines and the lunch and dinner buffet spread served in Prawn Farm’s large and comfortable space is an excellent option.
If you’d prefer something a little more rustic, then the signature grilled chicken barbecue dish at Chicken Ati-Atihan is something you may want to try. People curious about boodle fights can experience one at TNTS Boodle Fight & Seafood House. It’s a bakery and cake shop that oddly enough, became famous for their seafood and boodle fight spreads.
Wherever you go, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of delicious food in Bohol. Its restaurant scene isn’t quite as developed or refined as Boracay, but it’s well on its way.
Thanks for reading and have a delicious time in Bohol!
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We couldn’t get reservations at one of our favorite fine dining restaurants in Manila – Toyo Eatery – so a well-traveled gastronome friend suggested something else, a restaurant we had never heard of – Balai Palma. In her opinion, this restaurant offered the best tasting menu in Manila. Naturally, we were intrigued.
We were lucky enough to secure a reservation and what followed was a meal that all four people in our group felt was the best we’ve enjoyed in years. Needless to say, we were blown away.
This was our experience at Balai Palma.
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WHAT IS BALAI PALMA?
Balai Palma is a private dining concept by Chef Aaron Isip. Open since August of 2022, it’s located in a townhouse along Palma Street in trendy Poblacion, Makati. Balai in Illongo (Chef Aaron’s mother is from Iloilo) means “house”, hence the name.
Balai Palma is open only for dinner, at 7:30PM, from Tuesday till Saturday. Reservations are a must and can be made through their Instagram page.
Tasting menus may vary but our two-hour degustation included sixteen or so dishes spread out over eight courses. It consisted of mostly seafood dishes made with ingredients sourced every morning from the local dampa (fresh seafood market).
At the time of our visit, Balai Palma’s tasting menu cost PHP 7,500 per person. Full payment must be made in advance, which we did via bank transfer.
Address: 6081b R Palma, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines Operating Hours: 7:30PM dinner, Tue-Sat (closed Sun-Mon) Reservations: 10AM-5PM What We Paid: PHP 7,500 per person Instagram: balaipalma
WHO IS AARON ISIP?
At the end of the degustation, Chef Aaron visited every table and we learned quite a bit about this talented young chef.
After graduating with a degree in Marketing Management from De La Salle University, he pursued his passion for food and left Manila in 2004 to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He toiled in the demanding kitchens of Paris for years before earning his stripes. He would become Chef de Cuisine at Dix-Huit, which was named one of the best restaurants by Le Figaro in 2014.
In 2015, he received the Trophée Espoir for the Île de France region from renowned French restaurant guide Gault et Millau. If I understand correctly, the Trophée Espoir is awarded to promising young chefs in France, a distinction that can catapult a chef from relative obscurity to culinary stardom.
In Chef Aaron’s words: “I was the only Filipino who’s ever gotten such an award by such a well-respected guide. It was just the stuff of dreams.”
After vacationing in El Nido, Chef Isip decided to leave Paris and return to the Philippines in 2016. He planned on opening a restaurant in Palawan because “[he] saw the potential of El Nido and how it drew a lot of global tourists. The thought of living the island life became a dream [he] wanted to realize.”
Unfortunately, his dream would have to wait because of COVID. To keep himself busy, he launched Gastronômade, an online venture featuring small batch artisanal sauces made from locally sourced organic ingredients. Gastronômade is a portmanteau word for “gastronomic nomad”, and is a reflection of Chef Aaron’s love for food and travel.
In August 2022, he inched closer to his dream when he opened Balai Palma. The private dining restaurant is set in his residence – a 70-square meter Poblacion townhouse where he continues to reside to this day (at least as of this writing).
BALAI PALMA RESTAURANT
Aside from Chef Aaron’s stellar tasting menu of mostly seafood dishes prepared using French culinary techniques, Balai Palma is interesting because of the space itself. It isn’t common to enjoy a meal of this caliber in what essentially is still the chef’s home.
Inspired by wabi-sabi, he told us that Balai Palma is decorated with furniture, accessories, antiques, and carvings that he meant to use in his El Nido restaurant. The majority of his pieces were either collected through the years during his travels or produced by local designers and craftsmen.
Chef Isip has a highly developed palate, but as you can see from Balai Palma’s living room, he has a refined eye as well.
Chef Isip is especially attached to this hammock which he bought in Tulum, Mexico. He’s been going to Tulum every year since 2014 and considers the Mexican coastal town his second home.
Balai Palma consists of five dining areas – the Main Dining Room, Lounge & Cinema Room, Speakeasy, Alcove Patio, and Roofdeck Terraza – and can accommodate up to thirty people a night. Our group of four was seated on the Roofdeck Terraza but you’ll be seated in different rooms depending on the size of your group. Unless I’m mistaken, the Main Dining Room is the biggest.
This picture was taken just off the Main Dining Room and offers a glimpse into the kitchen. Aside from the food and decor, what I loved about Balai Palma is that it doesn’t feel like a restaurant. It feels like you’re having dinner as a guest in the chef’s home, which is basically what this experience is.
This is the stairwell leading up to the third floor and Roofdeck Terraza dining area.
This is the Roofdeck Terraza. Isn’t it beautiful? We had a great view of the Poblacion skyline from here.
There were just four people in our group but I believe this al fresco space can accommodate up to six.
Have you ever seen a wooden bathtub before? And on a roofdeck?
Don’t you just love the textures in this space? Chef Isip has a great eye for detail.
BALAI PALMA TASTING MENU
At the start of your meal, you’ll be offered a welcome drink, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. I don’t remember what this drink was but it was delicious.
Hors d Oeuvres
The first course consisted of three hors d oeuvres, starting with local escargots dressed in a light sauce made from white wine, herbs, and butter.
The second hors d oeuvre consisted of three parts, the first being this bowl of mantis shrimp prepared with guava leche de tigre and cilantro.
The second component of hors d oeuvre number two was this Pacific sea bream crudo with guyabano aguachile.
If I remember correctly, these were prawn tapioca crackers.
To eat the second hors d oeuvre, you put a little bit of the mantis shrimp and sea bream crudo onto the prawn cracker.
The first two hors d oeuvres were delicious, but this crispy chicken skin with amaebi spot prawn, kamias, and grilled calamansi was my favorite.
Ube in Three Textures
This next course was amazing. As its name suggests, it consists of ube prepared in three ways with the freshest halaan clams, Oscietra caviar, and clam emulsion.
Halo Halo del Mar
This next course aptly named Halo-Halo del Mar (halo-halo of the sea) was an interesting blend of flavor, texture, and temperature. You can see three types of shellfish in the picture below but this course actually consists of four dishes.
On the half shells are raw Irish Gallagher oysters with green mango and bone marrow warm relish; Hokkaido scallop with suahe shrimp, ikura, and tamarind anchovy sauce; and giant clams with Joselito papada Iberico and mangosteen ceviche.
In the spirit of the iconic Filipino dessert, the shells are sitting on tamarind shrimp sinigang shaved ice with crab fat curry sauce. So interesting!
Giant Mangrove Crab Cold Somen
The first of our main courses were these cold mangrove crab somen noodles tossed in an aligue (crab roe) and tarragon sauce. The noodles were topped with Chilean uni and fried soft shell crab.
Boudin Noir Soup in Cuttlefish Ink
This was one of my favorite courses. A play on Filipino dinuguan, it consists of sauteed squid, pork chicharron, white beans, and sigarilyas (wing beans) served in a bowl with cuttlefish ink and a side of puto (rice cakes). If I remember correctly, the tuille was made from squid ink.
Puto and dinuguan is one of my favorite Filipino food pairings. These leveled up rice cakes look to have been topped with uni, microgreens, and caviar.
Here’s a shot of our server pouring cuttlefish ink into my bowl. Such a fun and tasty dish!
Lapu Lapu a la Meuniere
This next course was good, though perhaps not as interesting as the others. It consisted of lightly floured lapu-lapu (grouper) fried in butter and served with marble potatoes and yuzu.
The last main course consisted of Okan wagyu wrapped in mustard leaf with buro (fermented rice paste), mushrooms, and grilled vegetables. It’s served with housemade chimichurri and microgreens.
We don’t usually expect too much from tasting menu desserts but Chef Isip knocked these out of the park as well.
We were served three desserts, starting with this longan sorbet with compressed longan in olive oil served over a bed of crushed polvoron.
The second dessert consisted of chestnut ice cream served in a sweet potato chilled soup with miso dulce de leche.
Here’s what the dessert looks like poured over with the sweet potato soup.
The last of the three desserts was this cup of dark chocolate sablé with gianduja gelato, jasmine crème, and hazelnuts. What a decadent end to an extraordinary meal!
At an additional cost, Balai Palma offers two supplementary dishes – lobster lechon and foiesilog. Lobster lechon consists of a roasted spiny lobster wrapped in Kurobuta suckling pig belly confit. It goes for an additional PHP 7,500 and is good for four people.
We went with the foiesilog, which refers to a spoonful of pan-seared French foie gras served with koshihikari garlic rice, a quail egg, daikon-onion light soubise, pickled green papaya atchara, and spring onions. It goes for an additional PHP 450 per order.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BALAI PALMA
We loved chatting with Chef Isip at the end of our meal. Joyful and unpretentious, he seemed to be a genuinely humble guy with a sincere love for food.
He told us that a second restaurant, a bigger Balai, was in the works. I don’t know when it’s scheduled to open but the new place will serve tasting menus while this existing restaurant will transition into an ala carte type of establishment.
As for his dream of opening a restaurant in El Nido, I guess that will have to wait. When it finally does open, we’ll be among the first to enjoy his food and the restaurant’s views, which he so enthusiastically described to us on this night.
Boracay Island is world-famous. It’s known for having one of the best beaches in the world, with powdery white sands that I personally haven’t seen anywhere else, not even in the rest of the Philippines.
Boracay has been one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines for the past thirty years. We’ve seen it grow from one resort and no electricity to the (overcrowded) tourist magnet that it is today. People from across the globe flock to its shores so it’s no surprise that Boracay has become a food lover’s paradise in its own right.
From Filipino food to Neapolitan pizza to unlimited samgyupsal, it won’t be hard to find good food on the island. Here are twenty restaurants, cafes, and dessert shops to visit on your next Boracay trip.
BORACAY RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your Boracay trip, we’ve put together links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Recommended hotels in Station 2, one of the most convenient areas to stay for first-time visitors to Boracay.
Luxury: Henann Palm Beach Resort
Midrange: Feliz Hotel Boracay
Budget: Nirvana Beach Resort
Island Hopping Tour: Island and Beach-Hopping Boat Tour with Snorkeling
Sunset Cruise: Sunset Cruise with Water Activities
Scuba Experience: Introduction to Scuba Diving Experience
Restaurant Deals: Boracay Restaurant Vouchers
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Wifi and SIM Cards
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THE BEST BORACAY RESTAURANTS
The majority of restaurants on Boracay island can be found in three main areas – Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. You can refer to the location map at the bottom of this article to see exactly where these recommended restaurants are.
1. The Sunny Side Café
The Sunny Side Café is one of our favorite restaurants on Boracay island. As its name suggests, it’s a bright and cheery all-day breakfast cafe that puts an interesting spin on traditional comfort food. French toast is stuffed with ube while eggs benedict are made with piri-piri pulled pork.
Pictured below is their take on the classic shakshuka. A staple dish in North African countries like Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, The Sunny Side Café makes theirs with sauteed tofu and feta cheese. They also top it with a fried egg instead of poached eggs.
This bacon and mango grilled cheese was amazing. A spin on the classic grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, it’s made with bacon, mozzarella, and housemade mango jam served on the cafe’s signature brioche bread.
An interesting blend of savory, sweet, and sour (from the tomato soup), this sandwich is the cafe’s bestseller. All it takes is one bite to understand why. It’s delicious.
You can’t really tell from the picture but this take on the classic Swiss roesti was massive, about the size of a pancake. As tasty as it is large, it’s topped with poached eggs, sour cream, tomato, basil, and the cafe’s housemade crumbled chorizo.
You may be familiar with horchata, but have you ever tried heirloom rice horchata? This vegan purplish drink is made with almonds and heirloom rice grown in the rice terraces of Banaue.
The Sunny Side Café has two branches in Boracay. We went to the newer (and bigger) restaurant in Station 1 but the original outlet is located at Boracay Sands Hotel in Station 3.
The first floor offers great views but I highly recommend getting a table upstairs if you can. You’ll have the best view of the ocean from up there, especially at sunset.
The Sunny Side Café
Location: Station 1 beachfront, Station 3 beachfront (Boracay Sands Hotel) Operating Hours: 7AM-8PM, daily What to Order: Bacon and mango grilled cheese, roesti, heirloom rice champorado
2. Cafe Maruja
Cafe Maruja is another popular all-day breakfast and brunch cafe in Boracay. Located in Station 3, they’re known for their toasts, egg dishes, and “Buddha Bowls”. They also serve a wide array of international dishes like souffle pancakes, crepes, mezze, and artisanal pizzas.
I asked my server for recommendations and one of the dishes she suggested was this beautiful spiced shrimp avocado toast. A crisp slice of toasted bread is topped with pan-fried shrimp, avocado, ebiko, cherry tomatoes, onions, and balsamic vinagrette. Delicious!
What you’re looking at below is the Maruja Speciale. Similar in shape to Turkish pide or Georgian khachapuri, it’s topped with bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Cafe Maruja is located on the beachfront of Casa Pilar Beach Resort in Station 3.
If you like, you can stretch out and enjoy your breakfast while sitting on floor cushions in these cute cabanas.
Personally, I enjoyed sitting on the beach while gazing out at the horizon. As the late great Anthony Bourdain once said: “Food tastes better with sand between your toes.”
Location: Station 3 beachfront (Casa Pilar Beach Resort) Operating Hours: 7:30AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Toasts, egg dishes, Buddha Bowls, pizza
3. Real Coffee & Tea Cafe
This next entry isn’t as fancy as the previous two but what it lacks in style it more than makes up for in longevity. Open since 1996, Real Coffee & Tea Cafe is a Boracay legend. Aside from coffee and tea, they offer traditional breakfast dishes and sandwiches but what they’re really known for are their calamansi (calamondin) muffins.
Like Peanut Kisses from Bohol or Good Shepherd ube halaya from Baguio, many Filipinos have been bringing home boxes of these Real Coffee calamansi muffins for years. It’s a staple pasalubong option (gift from a trip) and something people have come to associate with Boracay island.
Real Coffee & Tea Cafe is located in Station 2, in a traditional nipa-hut-style building.
The calamansi muffins are nice but what makes Real Coffee truly special is the vibe and the view. If only they had wifi!
Real Coffee & Tea Cafe
Location: Station 2 beachfront Operating Hours: 7AM-7PM, daily What to Order: Calamansi muffins
4. Little Wave Cafe
Little Wave Cafe serves some of the best and most interesting coffee drinks in Boracay, which isn’t surprising considering they source their beans from two of the country’s best roasters – Yardstick Coffee and EDSA Beverage Design Studio.
The Death Cream is their signature coffee drink but what caught my eye was this limited edition salt-cured egg coffee. If you’ve been to Hanoi, then you’re probably familiar with ca phe trung or Vietnamese egg coffee. This decadent version topped with a thick layer of salt-cured egg is Little Wave’s ode to that iconic Hanoi drink.
Affogato is one of my favorite coffee-based desserts, but it’s even better when made with pistachio ice cream. This pistachio affogato with a potato chip chocolate cookie was a match made in heaven.
Little Wave Cafe is located at Hue Hotel, along the main road at Station X. Station X isn’t a true station like Stations 1-3, but more a lifestyle hub located in the inner part of Station 2.
Aside from their specialty coffees, Little Wave also serves breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, and fresh pasta dishes.
Little Wave Cafe
Location: Station 2 main road (Station X, Hue Hotels and Resorts) Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Specialty coffee
Singapore is one of our favorite countries in the world to visit, and a lot of that has to do with the food. Tasty Singaporean dishes like chili crab, laksa, and Hainanese chicken rice are big reasons why trips to Singapore never get old.
Luckily for me, Chan’s was located just a stone’s throw from where we were staying so it was the first place I went to after checking in to our hotel. In true Singaporean hawker fashion, they have a focused menu with just a few dishes – rice bowls, kaya toast, and fish ball soup. I went with the kaya toast and this mixed rice bowl with BBQ pork belly and smoked duck.
The owner of Chan’s was at the stall that day so I asked for her recommendations. She suggested I get the BBQ pork belly and smoked duck but I recommend pairing the BBQ pork belly with this scallion chicken instead.
The smoked duck is delicious but it tastes similar to the BBQ pork belly. Getting the pork belly and scallion chicken will offer more variety in flavor and texture.
Chan’s offers toast made with traditional kaya spread (coconut jam) but they make them with other types of jam as well, like pandan, salted yema, and durian. I absolutely love durian so that’s what I went with.
The owner told me that durian is their hardest sell but no one needs to be intimidated by this one. The durian flavor is mild and pleasant without any of the fruit’s notorious pungency.
Like a true hawker stall in Singapore, Chan’s is located in a small food court inside Hue Hotel in Station X.
Location: Station 2 main road (Station X, Hue Hotels and Resorts) Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Rice bowls, kaya toast
As described, the food in Boracay island can get a little expensive, especially if you eat at restaurants along White Beach. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find good food for cheap. Located along the main road, Bunbun is the perfect example of that.
Bunbun offers Asian specialties like gyoza, pork char siu, and chicken satay. To be honest, I never expect too much from cheap dim sum places in the Philippines but the pork and shrimp siu mai at Bunbun were surprisingly delicious. The dumplings were a good size too.
Pictured below is their equally delicious chicken satay rice. The sauce on the chicken satay was super flavorful.
Bunbun is a small restaurant located along the main road, close to D’mall and Balabag Lake.
Bunbun has a few small tables downstairs and four more upstairs.
Location: Station 2 main road (close to D’mall and Balabag Lake) Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Pork char siu, chicken satay, siu mai
7. Meze Wrap
Located up the street from Bunbun is Meze Wrap, their sister restaurant. As their name suggests, they offer Mediterranean specialties like kebabs, hummus with pita, and shawarma wraps.
The beautiful dish below is their grilled eggplant hummus. Big enough for two, it’s topped with chopped peanuts, garbanzo beans, sesame seeds, and pickled red onions.
If you visit Meze Wrap in groups of two or more, then I recommend getting one of their Meze Trays. They come with two or three skewers of kebab, two sauces of your choice, buttered rice or flatbread, and three side dishes of the day.
We went with the beef, chicken, and pork skewers with curry tahini and garlic cucumber cream. Everything on this tray was delicious.
The dining area of Meze Wrap is located on the third floor of this building.
The spiral staircase leading up to the third floor is a little precarious (watch out for the overhead wires!) but the food and dining space are worth it. Sit near the balcony and you’ll have great views of Balabag Lake from up here.
Location: Station 2 main road (close to D’mall and Balabag Lake) Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9:30PM, daily What to Order: Meze trays, kebabs, hummus
8. Hanoi Pho
Vietnamese food is one of our favorite cuisines in the world so we were thrilled to find Hanoi Pho. It’s a small but stylish Vietnamese restaurant located along Road 1-A, on the way to Bulabog Beach.
Hanoi Pho has a focused menu offering a few of our favorite Vietnamese dishes like pho bo (beef pho, pictured below), com ga (chicken rice), goi cuon / cha gio (fresh/fried spring rolls), and banh mi. If you’re jonesing for a good bowl of pho in Boracay, then Hanoi Pho is a great place to have it.
Bun thit nuong is on a short list of our favorite Vietnamese dishes and Hanoi Pho’s rendition is close to the versions we’ve enjoyed in Ho Chi Minh City. If you’ve never had it, it’s a dry vermicelli noodle dish topped with grilled pork, fresh vegetables, crushed peanuts, and a fried spring roll.
We love banh mi but unfortunately, this was our least favorite dish of the three. The fillings were generous but the bread lacked the crumbly, airy texture characteristic of the best Vietnamese banh mi. Perhaps if they toasted the bread?
Hanoi Pho is located along Road 1-A, between Balabag Lake and Bulabog Beach.
This is pretty much the entire restaurant. As described, it’s a small but well-put-together space that can probably accommodate up to twenty people at a time.
Location: Road 1-A (close to Bulabog Beach) Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Pho bo, bun thit nuong
9. Momo Ramen
If Vietnamese pho isn’t your thing, then perhaps you’d be interested in a bowl of ramen instead. Located just a minute down the road from Hanoi Pho is Momo Ramen, a small restaurant that serves ramen and other popular Japanese dishes like chicken karaage, curry rice, tuna tataki, and korokke.
Momo Ramen offers three types of ramen – seafood ramen, tonkotsu ramen, and karamiso ramen. Pictured below is the karamiso ramen which you can get in a spicy or non-spicy version. Both versions were delicious.
I didn’t realize this at the time but I think Hanoi Pho and Momo Ramen may be owned by the same group (which is common in Boracay). They’re located just a stone’s throw from each other, both restaurants are well-designed, and they each have focused menus offering Asian noodle dishes. Even the menu designs look strikingly similar.
If they are indeed owned by the same people, then it’s no wonder both restaurants serve good food!
Don’t you just love these cherry blossom decorations? We are so missing Japan!
Location: Road 1-A (close to Bulabog Beach) Operating Hours: 11AM-3AM, daily What to Order: Ramen
10. Pares Hilton
If you’re looking for good cheap Filipino food, especially after a night of drinking in Boracay, then the hilariously named Pares Hilton is an excellent choice. More on the name later but this restaurant along the Station 2 beachfront specializes in beef pares and other comforting Filipino dishes like silog meals and tokwa’t baboy. They make delicious fruit shakes as well.
Pictured below is the beef pares with unlimited rice. If you’ve never heard of pares, it refers to a type of Filipino braised beef stew. It’s commonly enjoyed for breakfast in the Philippines though it’s one of those all-day breakfast foods that can be eaten at any time of the day.
Tokwa’t baboy is a classic Filipino bar chow pairing of fried tofu and boiled pork (usually ears and/or belly) drenched in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, pork broth, onions, scallions, and chili peppers.
Like pork sisig and chicharon bulaklak, tokwa’t baboy is one of our favorite dishes to munch on with beer. The name tokwa’t baboy is short for tokwa at baboy which literally means “tofu and pig”.
Silog meals are popular Filipino breakfast dishes made with some type of meat or fish paired with garlic rice and a fried egg. The most common type of silog are made with beef tapa (tapsilog), longganisa (longsilog), or pork tocino (tocilog), but it can really be made with anything. As you can probably tell, the dish takes the name of the viand it’s made with.
The version below is made with a breaded pork chop hence the name porksilog. It was delicious and definitely something I wouldn’t mind having again, whether sober or drunk.
Filipinos love funny puns and this restaurant’s name is a great example of that. Obviously, it’s a humorous play on the famous socialite’s name.
I had heard about Pares Hilton from a meme but I assumed the restaurant was in Manila! To our surprise and delight, it’s located right here in Boracay.
Location: Station 2 beachfront What to Order: Pares, silog, tokwa’t baboy
11. Boracay Beach Truck
The Boracay Beach Truck is a cute food truck in D’mall comprised of two concepts – Island Bowls and Sunrise Milk Tea. The latter offers Taiwanese boba while the former serves rice and noodle bowls topped with popular dishes from different parts of Asia.
On the menu at Island Bowls are beloved Asian dishes like Chinese sweet and sour pork, Filipino chicken adobo, Korean bibimbap, and Indonesian mie goreng. Being a fan of Panda Express, I had to go with Island Bowl’s version of orange chicken, which I washed down with a cup of my favorite brown sugar boba from Sunrise Milk Tea. So simple yet so satisfying and delicious.
The orange chicken was tasty but this bowl of chicken satay served with peanut sauce over nasi goreng may have been even better. This was seriously delicious!
Boracay Beach Truck is located in D’mall, just off the main road. It looks to be a relatively new restaurant as it doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet, but if this one experience were any indicator, then they shouldn’t have any problems attracting customers. They serve good food at affordable prices, which is rarer than you think in Boracay.
Boracay Beach Truck looks like a food truck but they do have a proper dining area on the second floor.
Boracay Beach Truck
Location: Station 2 D’mall (close to the main road) Operating Hours: 10AM-11PM, Wed-Sat / 11AM-10PM, Sun-Tue What to Order: Rice and noodle bowls, boba
12. Royal Indian Curry House (RICH)
I love Indian food. In my opinion, Royal Indian Curry House (RICH for short) is the best Indian restaurant in Manila so we were ecstatic to learn that they had just opened a branch in Boracay. Woohoo! We were so excited that our first dinner in Boracay was a no-brainer – we were eating at RICH.
RICH has a thick menu of classic Indian dishes. We kickstarted our dinner with this tasty tray of samosas, which you can get in veg or non-veg versions.
I usually go for curries at Indian restaurants but this sizzling platter of chicken tikka was a revelation. Charred in parts and slightly tangy in flavor, it was AMAZINGLY delicious.
I’m a simple guy. If I see chicken tikka masala or butter chicken on a menu then chances are, I’ll order it. Tonight, we went with the butter chicken and it was fantsatic as always.
Butter chicken to me is what Hyderabadi biryani is to my significant other. My wife always order this dish and RICH’s version is fantastic.
Of course, you can’t order Indian curry without pairing it with some naan bread. For me, dipping freshly baked naan into a pot of warm curry is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
RICH Boracay is located along the beach in Station 1. Like their restaurant in Poblacion, Makati, this branch is big. It consists of three floors of seating, the top floor being the roofdeck. That’s where we sat.
Royal Indian Curry House (RICH)
Location: Station 1 beachfront Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Curries, biryani
13. Donenoo Korean BBQ
Boracay is a top destination for Korean tourists so it’s no surprise that Korean restaurants are a dime a dozen on the island. We love Korean food so we didn’t want to go just anywhere. We wanted to find the best Korean restaurant in Boracay.
With a near-perfect 4.9 Google rating even after 1,100+ reviews (and counting), I think we succeeded when we found Donenoo Korean BBQ.
Unlimited samgyupsal is a hugely popular (and successful) concept in the Philippines. Initially, I wanted to order meat dishes ala carte but after seeing other customers grilling roll after roll of thinly sliced pork belly, we had to do it too. For just PHP 499 for unlimited samgyupsal, banchan, rice, and a pot of geranjjim (steamed egg), the lunch promo deal was a no-brainer.
Donenoo Korean BBQ offers unlimited samgyupsal or unlimited beef (PHP 699) from 12NN till 5PM daily. A minimum of two people is required to avail of the promo.
Aside from the quality of the meats, what makes Donenoo so good is that they cook their meat dishes with a combination of charcoal and gas. The charcoal gives the meat that extra smokiness and flavor that you just can’t get when cooking only with gas.
Like any Korean BBQ restaurant, you can enjoy the freshly grilled meats with rice or wrapped in leafy vegetables. So good!
Donenoo Korean BBQ is located along the main road in Station 1. We checked out many Korean restaurants and based on its reviews, Donenoo has to be one of the best if not the best Korean restaurant in Boracay.
Donenoo Korean BBQ
Location: Station 1 main road Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Korean BBQ
14. barLO (Two Seasons Boracay Resort)
There are a handful of restaurants that many Filipinos have to go to in Boracay. Los Indios Bravos is one, barLO at Two Seasons Boracay Resort is another. Like getting calamansi muffins at Real Coffee or drinking a fruit shake from Jonah’s, ordering the oyster sisig and 4-cheese pizza at barLO has become a Boracay tradition.
If you like pork sisig, then you need to try oyster sisig. It’s delicious and something that you can’t find just anywhere.
barLO’s 4-cheese pizza isn’t like your typical pizza, but it’s delicious. Made with a combination of mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, and blue cheese, what makes this pizza special isn’t the cheese, but the crust. It’s made with a thin, almost cracker-like crust that’s crispy and savory-sweet in flavor. Definitely a must-try!
As described, barLO is a Boracay institution located at the Two Seasons Boracay Resort in Station 1.
Location: Station 1 beachfront (Two Seasons Boracay Resort) Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily What to Order: 4-cheese pizza, oyster sisig
15. Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast
When it comes to pizza, barLO and Aria restaurant in D’mall are legendary in Boracay. Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast is a legend in its own right, but just not in Boracay. At least not yet.
Founded by an Sicilian chef, Giuseppe has been serving some of the best pizza and pasta in Cebu and Bohol for years. Thankfully, they’ve finally opened a restaurant in Boracay and it’s just as good as its predecessors. This eggplant parmigiana starter was marvelous.
This linguine puttanesca was fantastic as well. If I remember correctly, all of Giuseppe’s pasta dishes are made with homemade pasta.
Like me, my wife is predictable. If she sees truffle on a menu, then she’ll order it.
Giuseppe makes many amazing pizzas but if you like truffles, then you need to get this tartufone. It’s an earthy delight topped with seasonal mushrooms and black and white truffles. Oh my.
We were a bit worried when we heard that this Boracay branch was a franchise, but it’s every bit as good as the restaurant in Bohol. If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian cuisine in Boracay, then look no further than Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast.
Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast
Location: Station 3 beachfront Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Pizza, pasta
16. Two Brown Boys
We were drawn to this bar for two reasons. One, we heard that they offer PHP 100 happy hour cocktails from 4-9PM. And two, they’re said to serve some of the best burgers in Boracay. Both turned out to be true.
Two Brown Boys offers many burgers on their menu but this beefy beauty called Sir Matt is one of their bestsellers. It’s topped with bacon, cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and pico de gallo. Yum.
Aside from burgers, Two Brown Boys offers a good selection of breakfast dishes, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and bar chow as well. Called cheesy loggers, these thin rolled-up pancakes are filled with ham and cheese and pan-fried in garlic butter.
Amaretto sour was our go-to cocktail in Boracay. We had it at many restaurants and bars but the concoction at Two Brown Boys was one of our favorites. Definitely check out this bar if you’re looking for a good place to enjoy happy hour in Boracay.
Two Brown Boys is located along Road 1-A, en route to Bulabog Beach.
Aside from their tasty burgers and delicious cocktails, we loved the music, vibe, and excellent service at Two Brown Boys. It was easily our favorite bar in Boracay.
Two Brown Boys
Location: Road 1-A (close to Bulabog Beach) Operating Hours: 7:30AM-3AM, daily What to Order: Burgers, happy hour cocktails
There are many delicious tropical fruits in the Philippines, but the mango is definitely king. We have the sweetest mangoes in the world so it’s no surprise that this mango dessert shop – Halomango – is one of the most popular restaurants in Boracay.
Halomango makes these incredibly delicious desserts consisting of mango soft serve ice cream and fresh mango chunks served over a bed of ice. We enjoyed many delicious desserts in Boracay, but this was easily our favorite. It’s so darn good.
Aside from their larger mango dessert bowls, Halomango also offers these mango ice cream cones. Served without ice, these are good too though we preferred the larger bowls with crushed ice.
I believe there are two or three Halomango shops in Boracay – two in D’mall and one more along the beach in Station 2. It didn’t matter what time it was, there were always customers waiting to get their hands on these irresistible mango desserts.
Location: Station 2 (D’mall and beachfront) Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Mango desserts
18. Ice Flakes
Savory Korean dishes like galbi, japchae, and pajeon are amazing, but so are Korean desserts. When it comes to desserts in Korea, there’s nothing more popular than the shaved ice dessert known as bingsu.
Ice Flakes in Boracay makes terrific bingsu flavored with different ingredients like mango, coconut, halo-halo, and watermelon. Pictured below is one of their most popular flavors of bingsu – mango coconut. It’s served with slivers of fresh mango and toasted coconut flakes.
We also tried their matcha and durian flavors. Everything was delicious, but the durian bingsu was definitely my favorite. Even the durian haters in our group loved it.
Ice Flakes has two branches in Boracay – one in D’mall and another along the beach in Station 2.
Location: Station 2 (D’mall and beachfront) Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Bingsu
19. Coco Mama
The Philippines is famous for its mangoes, but it’s also known for its coconuts. If you want the best of both worlds, then head on over to Coco Mama. They make these beautiful coconut ice cream desserts made with slivers of coconut served in fresh coconut shells.
You can get yours with coconut and/or coconut pandan ice cream and have it topped with chunks of fresh mango. Perfect for your Instagram feed, Coco Mama’s desserts are as tasty as they are pretty.
Located in D’mall, Coco Mama is owned and operated by the same group as The Sunny Side Cafe.
Location: Station 2 D’mall Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Coconut ice cream desserts
20. Jonah’s Fruit Shake
For people who’ve been going to Boracay since its early days, two brands are synonymous with the island – Cocomangas (and its bar Moondogs) and Jonah’s Fruit Shake. Cocomangas is now closed but thankfully, Jonah’s is still going strong.
Many Boracay restaurants and cafes now serve fruit shakes but none are as iconic as Jonah’s. Here I am proudly showing off my mango papaya fruit shake from Jonah’s, served with an edible rice straw.
Can you really say your Boracay trip is complete without enjoying a Jonah’s fruit shake?
I went to their beachfront stand in Station 2 but Jonah’s Fruit Shake has a few outlets in Boracay. I believe they’re all in Stations 1 and 2.
Jonah’s Fruit Shake
Location: Stations 1 and 2 (beachfront and main road) Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Fruit shakes
To help you find these Boracay restaurants, I’ve pinned them all on this map. I’ve included many others that either didn’t make this list, or we didn’t have time to visit. Click on the link to open a live version of the map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BORACAY RESTAURANTS
Take a stroll along White Beach or explore D’mall and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of restaurants in Boracay. I wanted to cap this list at twenty but here are few more restaurants that you may want to consider.
Like barLO, Los Indios Bravos at White House Beach Resort is a Boracay institution. Almost every Filipino who’s been to Boracay will tell you to eat there. They offer a good range of steaks and international dishes along with an extensive collection of Filipino craft beer.
If you’re jonesing for Mexican food, then Muchos and Guajillo are solid choices. For fresh seafood platters, Mama’s Fish House is a popular spot while Pig Out Bistro is often recommended for their crab burger.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding good food on Boracay island. No matter where you go, don’t forget to take a break between bites and take that epic Boracay photo. Watching the sunset from White Beach is a sight you won’t soon forget.
Thanks for reading and have an amazing time in Boracay!
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