If there’s one thing the Philippines is known for aside from its famous pristine beaches, it’s that the country is abundant street food scene. In fact, mobile food is so common across the country it’s simply called food. Whether you’re in the capital city or the provinces, the smell of Filipino street food will greet you.
Food carts are a common sight on the sidewalks of urban centers like Manilla, Davao City, and Palayan. Almost all establishment or government buildings will have a restaurant or café too. In short, you don’t need to worry about going hungry in the Philippines. If you’re looking for a way to make a comfortable living, but don’t have much money to invest, try one of these low-cost food business ideas will work anywhere in the country.
- Fish Ball Cart
- Cotton Candy Kiosk
- Siomai Kiosk
- Ice Cream
- Fried Peanuts
- Hot Dog Stand
- Green Mangoes
- Sari-Sari Stores
- Shake Cart
- Fried Chicken Stand
- Buko (Coconut) Juice
- Fried Rice
Fish Ball Cart
If you’ve visited the Philippines before, you already know food vendors selling fish balls on the side of the road is commonplace. Unlike in Chinese-style hot pots where fish balls are steamed or used in soup, fish balls in the Philippines are fried and skewered in sticks. Fish balls can be homemade or store-bought by the vendors and served in flat or round balls. These meals are then fried in front of you and served hot. You can then dip them into spicy or sweet sauces.
Fish balls are so cheap that they’re sold at Php 0.50 a piece. A stick can sometimes be 15 pesos ($0.30). This is one low-cost food business idea you can do since you’ll only need a cart, gas, your pan, fish balls, and sauces to get started. And of course a curbside another vendor hasn’t already claimed!
Cotton Candy Kiosk
Filipinos love sweet things and naturally cotton candy has become a street food favorite. They’re not the huge ones you’ll find at carnivals, but just a regular-sized cotton candy treat.
The cost of a cotton candy kiosk starts at Php 7,000 or $145 USD. Having this for a business is a crowd favorite and you can even market this for events so you can charge depending on the number of people. If you enjoy working at small events like birthday parties or fundraisers this is a terrific business option.
Siomai is the Filipino version of Shumai or Chinese dumplings. The dumplings are commonly filled with pork, beef, and shrimp. There are many varieties of these through the years such as ones wrapped in nori sheets or those wrapped in bacon. But the siomai culture continues to grow and a siomai kiosk is a popular business investment. You can franchise a siomai kiosk for as low as Php 20,000 or about $415 USD.
One thing to keep in mind is that while the ingredient cost of dumplings is low, making the dumplings by hand will require human capital. You can teach family members how to make dumplings alongside you easily enough, but it’s a consideration you should be aware of before getting into the business. This business is higher effort on the manufacturing side.
Ice cream in the Philippines is known commonly as sorbetes or dirty ice cream. Now don’t be alarmed. It’s not dirty. It’s just the way it’s called as a running joke that these are ice creams sold by the streets. But these are quite yummy seeing as it’s made from carabao’s (a type of water buffalo) milk.
This type of ice cream is sold in carts where the tubs are kept frozen with ice and salt. The ice cream is scooped in small sizes and placed in sugar or wafer cones. A single-serve can be affordable and less than Php 50 ($1).
A balut is a Filipino delicacy that is a fertilized duck or chicken egg. It’s very popular and Filipinos eat it by cracking just a small portion of the egg on top and then drink the soup inside. They then eat all the contents (yes, even the duck inside) by adding salt or spiced vinegar.
Admittedly, balut is not for everyone. Some might not find this appetizing to look at. But it remains to be a well-known street food for its taste that having a balut business is profitable and comes at a low cost. This is another popular street food sold by vendors across the country.
Related Reading: 32 (Actually Profitable) Kiosk Business Ideas You Can Start Under $20k