Travelers to the Visayas cannot call their trip complete without sampling the best foods one can find in Cebu City. Even though every region in the Philippines has its culinary specialties, Cebu is no exception. The newbie traveler can begin with a bite of the best food one can munch in Cebu City.
The best food you can find in Cebu City
We all know that Cebu is one of the choices for the best travel destination. It is also, however, a mecca for diverse cuisine. But with the samples that we are going to show you are close to every Cebuano’s heart and tastebuds. It is something that Cebuanos have been eating since childhood, or something very familiar and popular that they always recommend them to travelers and visitors to give in for a bite or two.
Although lechon, or roast pig, is a staple at nearly every Filipino feast, Cebu lechon deserves to be in a class of its own. Lechon in Cebu is serious business, with extra care taken to stuff each pig with a secret mix of spices before roasting to get the perfect combination of crispy skin and tender meat within. The jury is out as to which restaurant or chain does Cebu lechon best, so a diner can feel free to taste, taste away!
No lechon meal, or any meal in Cebu for that matter, is complete without puso rice. This refers to steamed rice wrapped in woven coconut leaves. This cooking method imparts a mild flavor to the rice, which complements the sharper seasonings of other dishes. Puso rice is very portable and easy to take to outdoor events or on trips. It is also a very sustainable way of eating; the rice can be eaten straight out of one’s hand with no need for disposable utensils, and the wrapping is biodegradable.
This kind of spring rolls or ‘lumpia’ is a uniquely Cebuano take of the favorite street food. Made from strips of turnip or bamboo shoots rolled in rice wrapping and deep-fried, ngohiong is always served with a sweet-sour sauce. Although this dish is readily available at street side and hawkers’ stalls, it is always best to have it freshly fried to ensure maximum flavor.
This quirky name refers to the practice of having fish (usually tuna), cooked in 3 ways: sugba or “grilled”, tula or “stewed”, and kilaw “cooked in vinegar”. This is a tasty and efficient way of enjoying the fruit of the sea; it is basically like having 3 dishes in one! SuTuKil is available at several places, but most notably at STK Ka Bay!. This is situated on Orchid Street in Cebu town proper.
Siomai sa Tisa
Although siomai is a street food staple all over the Philippines, its iteration in the Siomai sa Tisa restaurant is said to take this dumpling to a whole new level. Like many other dimsum houses, the siomai here is served with soy sauce and chili garlic, but it is served very well. Diners may head to the stall in Labangon to try this budget-friendly delight.
Dried fish is not just dried fish to the Cebuano palate. The sundried danggit is unparalleled in both crunch and flavor, thus making it a breakfast favorite. Although the smell may take some getting used to for the unseasoned eater, it is easy to overlook it once one is presented with a plate of danggit, rice, eggs, atsara (pickled papaya), with a spicy vinegar dip on the side. It is readily available at most places that serve breakfast meals. Danggit is also a pasalubong favorite for travelers leaving Cebu.
Simply put, this is the Bisaya way of making vegetable soup. There is no single recipe for this refreshing yet filling concoction; often whatever is in one’s backyard will do. One can expect combinations of moringa, taro, okra, eggplant, squash and whatever else is edible in the garden.
One way to cap off a hearty meal in Cebu is to have a serving of this rice cake known as budbud pilit. This is basically steamed glutinous rice rolled into small sticks, flavored with coconut milk and sugar. For the ultimate budbud pilit experience, pair this cake with strips of fresh ripe mango, and a cup of thick hot chocolate. Now that is decadence!
Although Cebu City is a highly urbanized and even cosmopolitan locale, these locally-grown specialties will always occupy a place like home in every Cebuano and the Filipino culinary mind. Hopefully, this list will whet the travelers’ appetite to taste more of what this island has to offer. Happy munching in Cebu City!