Balamban Liempo
Balamban Liempo

Eat Like a Local: Cebu Food Trip and Must-Try

Home » Blogs » Dining » Eat Like a Local: Cebu Food Trip and Must-Try

Cebu is unarguably one of the Philippines’ major gastronomic destination. People experiment on spices and try whatever is ostensible in the kitchen. And when it clicked, expect it soon in the eateries and eventually in restaurants.

Local cooking includes larang, tuslob-bua, balbacua, dugo-dugo, paklay, lansiao, and many more. Some of these dishes were local version of Luzon’s famous staples with a slight deviation in terms of the preparation. Larang, for instance, is pretty close to sinigang sa kamias. The way it is cooked, however, is different. Larang includes sauteing contrary to that of sinigang.

Cebuanos are discriminatory when it comes to taste but conscious when it comes to budget. However, paying a premium is not an issue for a premium flavor.

Cebu Food Trip

Connections and friends are the most influential when deciding where to eat. Viva voce works perfectly when we talk about food marketing in Cebu. If they like the food, then tend to be a bunch of loyalist.

It took me three months here in Cebu to come up with a list. Here are the local suggested places and foods you should try on your next Cebu visit.

Yummy Lechon, the Tastiest Pig

If you’ve been to Singapore, you could relate if I say, Lechon de Cebu is a “die, die, must-try”.

Locals recommend Rico’s Lechon, CnT, and Kusina ni Nasing.

Rico’s and CnT Lechon are just two of the top places to go when locals crave for lechon. They prepare their lechon the traditional way and cooked on a low charcoal heat.

Rico's Spicy Lechon
Rico’s Spicy Lechon

Kusina ni Nasing, on the other hand, offers boneless lechon which skin’s crispiness could last for more than a day. It’s the tastiest I’ve ever tasted, at least for me, especially the parts that come in contact with the spices.

Visit their humble “lechonan” along V. Rama Street and try the original and spicy versions of their lechon.

Kusina ni Nasing's Boneless Lechon
Kusina ni Nasing’s Boneless Lechon

Siomai sa Tisa, Wanna Try? You Should Try!

Many claim to have started it all but one thing is sure, you should try the siomai at Barangay Tisa for at least once and join the local craze.

Way Tugpahay claims to have started it all
Cebu Food Trip in Tisa: Way Tugpahay claims to be the first

If you want an interesting siomai twist, try the ones sold at Braddex. Braddex, known for their steamed rice, infused boiled duck eggs on their siomai.

Braddex Siomai
Braddex Siomai

Chinese Ngohiong Ma’am, Sir!

Ngohiong (or Ngoyong) when partnered with hanging rice or pusô, is a favorite meal, especially for the tight budgeted. This specially-seasoned ground heart of palm and white turnip roll tastes really good when freshly fried.

Chinese Ngohiong near University of San Carlos (USC) and Lotching’s Chinese Ngohiong along Tojong Street in Ayala are the most recommended.

Lotching's Chinese Ngohiong
Lotching’s Chinese Ngohiong

Take Home Liempo

A friend approached me one time and asked, “Ian, have you tried Balamban Liempo?”. I said no. And then, she immediately told me to try it as soon as possible. So after office, I went to the closest branch and ordered a piece. I finished a serving that is enough to feed up to three individuals. The tenderness of the meat, the crunchiness of the skin, and the spiciness of every bite all blended well to give me an unforgettable munch.

Kusina ni Nasing is also one of the most sought after liempo roasters in the city.

Balamban Liempo
Balamban Liempo

The Halo-halo Concert

In Manila, you can only find halo-halo in a fast-food or on select restaurants where it is offered as a dessert option. And then, there is one chain selling halo-halo from Pampanga that tries to penetrate everywhere with their very limited ingredients. There is actually no “where to go” place when you crave for a vibrant-filled halo-halo in the capital.

Melton's Super Special Halo-halo
Melton’s Super Special Halo-halo
A busy night at Melton's Halo-halo
Cebu Food Trip in Meltons: A busy night at Melton’s Halo-halo

In Cebu, you can have a halo-halo feast at Melton’s Halo-halo and try their fruity twist or experience the gelatin-filled and creamy bowl at Ice Castle.

Monbis in Barangay Tisa offers a very interesting version. Instead of using normal ice, they replace it with crushed iced candy making your cup a lot flavorful.

If you go down south of the metro, you can also try Victoria’s Halo-Halo in Barangay San Isidro, Talisay City, Cebu.

Ice Castle Halo-halo
Ice Castle Halo-halo

SuTuKil ta Bay!

Sutukil is SUgba (or sinugba which means grilled), TUwa (or tinolang isda which means fish stew), and KILaw (or kinilaw/kilawan which is similar to that of ceviche). At a traditional set up, you’ll buy a big fish, usually trevally, skipjack tuna, or mackerel, and then have it cooked the sutukil way. The head part will be stewed, some of the flesh will be processed into ceviche, and the rest will be grilled.

STK ta Bay!
STK ta Bay!’s Grilled Tuna Panga, Sinuglaw, Thai Soup, and Sweet and Sour Calamares

Sutukil is very familiar to the rural areas of Cebu province. In the city, a close version is offered at STK ta Bay! Paolito’s Seafood House. Aside from sutukil, STK ta Bay! also offers a bunch of house specialties and must-try. The decorations of the dining area are also fascinating, creating an entirely different dining experience.

STK ta Bay! antique collections adorn the restaurant interiors
STK ta Bay! antique collections adorn the restaurant interiors

Eat Like a Local: Larsian BBQ and Pungko-pungko

A Cebuano friend told me that you’ve never been to Cebu if you haven’t tried the barbecue at Larsian. So, when I got a chance, I tried it with my visiting friends.

One of the Barbecue Stalls at Larsian sa Fuente
Cebu Food Trip in Larsian: One of the Barbecue Stalls at Larsian sa Fuente

Since Larsian is a complex, a lot of barbecue operators here will approach you on your visit, summarizing their freebies just to get you seated at their stall. Though this may be overwhelming sometimes, listen to their offers carefully to bargain and get discounts.

Avoid the seafood though, they are way more expensive. However, it is still worth a try. Now you’re confused.

Grilled Seafood at Larsian
Grilled Seafood at Larsian

Pungko-pungko is affordable and more fun. Eating needs no spoon and fork nor chopsticks, but bare-handed. You have an option to wrap your hands with plastic if you have sanitary issues. Meals at pungko-pungko are everything fried paired with hanging rice or pusô. You can try spring rolls, ngohiong, lumpia, crablets, lengua, chicken/chicken skin, hotdog, pork fat, intestines, meat balls, etc.

Pungko-pungko, by the way, is street food dining in Cebu where patrons squat or seat on makeshift bench or mono blocks chairs along sidewalks or wherever the local government allows for this purpose.

Schedule your next Cebu food trip now.

Follow us on Instagram

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *