Aside from serving gourmet Filipino dishes and sweets galore, a Philippine restaurant style encourages patrons to devour buffet cuisines using bare (washed) hands, instead of the traditional spoon and fork dining. These Philippine restaurants are imbued with traditional supping style and native dishes plus an ambience that is nothing short of traditional Filipino elegant dining.
It started in 1977 when Kamayan conceptualized a native restaurant that would catapult Filipino native bare-hand eating style to national renown. Since then, other bare-hand concept Philippine restaurants followed suit. And Philippine restaurant trends have never been the same again. Later, eat-all-you-can concepts were added. Bare-hand Philippine restaurants provided facilities for classy washing of hands (elegant bowl-like basin and faucet) at food counters, waiters in barong and saya, and festive singing of native songs.
Spoons and forks were available but clients were lured into folding up their sleeves and using bare hands for eating, in a style not far from the way natives dine on bamboo tables and stools with one foot resting on the seat. Accordingly, bare-hand eating cultivated appetite for native dishes, and vice versa—wise native restaurant marketing strategy.
Today, bare-hand or hands-on Philippine restaurant specializes in native cuisines ranging from Tagalog roasted pigs to Pampanga native sausages and Ilocano vegetable dishes to Visayan Arros Valenciana, among others. There is also seafood galore featuring an array of diverse deep sea and cultured fish and seashell varieties, seaweeds, crabs, oysters, and varied aromatic fish flake crispies topped with fresh eggs on sizzling metal plates. Some bare-hand Philippine restaurants use porcelain dishes but several others use weaved native platters or wooden plates topped with banana leaves. A plethora of colorful native fruits are set on a separate counter disguised as a native hut. Here, native sweets and delicacies are also available.
Gradually hands-on Philippine restaurants also incorporated the concept of a self-service ice cream stand or parlor or nook, stocked with delectable native ice cream flavors. This stand (which later quickly evolved into a common street kids’ ice cream cart) is placed near the fruits and delicacies stand for a more imaginative concoction of both. Hands-on Philippine restaurants are also famous for mixing native fruit drinks with a twist of Asian and tropical brews. Among these are fruit extracts and green tea shakes and other refreshing blends of fruit beverages.
An alternative dining style is a luscious meal of native dishes eaten bare-handed. Philippine restaurants with this dining concept capitalize on the unique and more appetizing lure of this feasting fashion.