The Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) is one of the highly anticipated events for foodies and culinary enthusiasts around the world. Every year, QIFF showcases the best of international cuisines, and in 2023, it’s featuring a new addition – traditional Filipino street food. With its distinct blend of flavors and textures, Filipino street food has been capturing the hearts and palates of many. The upcoming QIFF presents an opportunity for attendees to experience the vibrant food culture of the Philippines and indulge in authentic street food dishes that are sure to leave a lasting impression. In this article, we’ll give you a sneak peek of what Filipino street food has to offer and why you shouldn’t miss it at QIFF 2023.
Filipino delicacies are proving popular with visitors to the 12th Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF), with grilled isaw (chicken intestines) and other street food favourites piquing the interest of many. Six Filipino restaurants had participated in the festival, with Qwentong Qalye, Filipino Street Food Atbp, FlaminGo, Filipino Hot Pack, Fudo and Sari Sari all offering up the most popular and delectable international cuisines. Qwendolyn Entena, owner and CEO of Qwentong Qalye, said the food festival was an excellent opportunity to introduce Filipino dishes to all the guests. Among Filipino favourites was the isaw, costing QR5 per stick, which is well-liked by people of all nationalities, and is enjoyed while admiring the waterfront view. Another favourite, Halo-halo – shaved ice with milk, sweetened beans, fruits, leche flan and ice cream – was enjoyed by the both the Filipino and other communities.
Carla Abdon, owner and operator of the Filipino Street Food Atbp restaurant in Qatar, which has been in operation for five years, said that she noticed more non-Filipino people attending this year’s festival than the previous three editions. Despite this, the support of the Filipino community remained strong. The kiosk fees were higher this year, but sales were good, making it a successful participation for FlaminGo, a popular Filipino restaurant. Resty Wagan, the restaurant manager, said the restaurant had a wide range of Filipino dishes on offer, including native delicacies like puto bumbong and bibingka, along with desserts such as ice scramble and taho. Due to high demand for the taho, costing QR13, it was sold out every day. Bodega, another restaurant, was also full of nostalgic Filipino snacks including the all-time favourite, isaw.
The support shown by the locals surprised the exhibitors, with non-Filipino vloggers even trying balut (fertilised duck eggs) as part of a challenge. However, the street foods like fishball and kikiam remained the favourites of both Filipinos and other nationalities. Eugene Espinoza, a resident of Qatar for the past 12 years, made the effort to attend the food festival with his daughter, Evana. The two enjoyed the food, with Espinoza stating that it tasted exactly like it was made at home. Reviews of the festival were positive, with Aiza Astrami, a Filipina expat, saying they were all nostalgic Filipino snacks from our childhood, and that she missed those days, which is why she came to the festival. Mehad Bouhgar, a Tunisian, accompanied by his Filipino friends, explained that he had been living in Qatar for the past seven years but was only introduced recently to tokneneng, kwek-kwek (deep-fried battered quail eggs), and his favourite, grilled Bulalo. Visitors have until Tuesday, 21 March to experience the delights of the QIFF, held at Lusail Boulevard from 4pm to 11pm.