It’s an understatement to say Cebu has it all. It’s a cultural province with a bunch of historic places to explore and plenty of beaches to discover. It’s also home to various delicacies and local dishes that will intrigue every palate.
Your visits to the many attractions of Cebu won’t be complete without food trips in between. You’ll be surprised by how vibrant Cebu’s food culture is. Now, it’s hard to decide what food to eat in Cebu when you have a broad selection and more familiar (foreign) choices available in the city.
To make sure you get a full taste of what Cebu has to offer, here are the 7 local foods you can’t miss in Cebu:
Lechon de Cebu
Lechon is the national dish of the Philippines. It is a sucking pig roasted over charcoal. This popular pork dish originated in Spain so it’s also a favorite in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Hawaii where it’s known as Kalua pig. Cebu has a reputation for having the best Lechon in the entire Philippines.
So what makes it so special? Well, it’s the kind of Lechon you won’t need any sauce on the side with. Its crispy skin and impeccable salty flavor are just enough to get you chewing on this pork.
Cebu also uses organic pig in making Lechon so you don’t have to worry about chemical, pesticides, or commercial feeds getting in your system with this pork favorite.
Cebuanos also keep coming up with innovative twists on this national dish. For instance, they even made boneless Lechon. Just imagine that pig belly stuffed with nothing else but its mouth-watering ingredients.
You can also get a spicy variant of Lechon de Cebu. Here are the stores to get the best-tasting Lechon in Cebu:
Sutukil is actually a play on the words “Sugba” (grill), “Tula” (stew), and “Kilawin” (to marinade raw seafood in vinegar). So with this dish, you choose any seafood and have it cooked in all those three ways. It’s an attractive dish to many tourists since it allows them to taste different local cooking styles of fish at once.
Kinilaw is the most must-try among the three cooking styles. It’s Cebu’s version of sashimi. It’s a local-cooked dish, so you’ll get the most authentic Cebuano touch out of this dish for sure.
Here’s where you can try the best Sutukil in Cebu:
Puso rice’s appeal is its portability. It’s wrapped and even boiled in a triangular packing made of women coconut leaves. It is also known as hanging rice in Cebu since they are hung in batches in local eateries in the province. You’ll also see variants of Puso all over Southeast Asia. Indonesia has what they call Ketupat.
The unique coconut flavor added on the rice even makes it more appealing aside from its practical casing. If you’re eating in an open-air eatery, it’s also more ideal to look for this rice as they are cleaner. The coconut leaves protect the rice from flies and other dirt.
Puso rice would pair nicely with Lechon de Cebu or Sutukil, too.
Ngohiong is a unique version of the popular spring roll. It is deep-fried as well but is made primarily of Ubod or bamboo shots and ground pork. You can eat it with rice as well.
However, it’s best paired with other street foods. You can eat it with squid balls, chorizo, tempura, etc. Its strong flavor just goes well with any other dish.
To get the best Ngohiong, you can visit Ngohiong Express at Juana Osmena Street, Kambuthaw, Cebu City. They’re open 24/7, so you have all day and all night to try it.
It’s indeed an odd food combination, but you’ll be surprised how it works well anyway. This pizza delicacy doesn’t only have mangoes but green bell peppers, cashew, and cheese as well. It’s not just mango on bread.
If you’re up for the challenge, you can try this sweet, spicy, and sour mango pizza at The Pitstop Restaurant at Don Jose Avila Street in Cebu City. If you end up not liking this unique pizza, at least there’ll still be familiar kinds of pizza, pasta, and other dishes for you in this restaurant.
Tuslob Buwa is as exotic as it sounds. Its literal meaning is “to dip into bubbles”. It is made of pig brain, pork liver or intestines, soy sauce, onions, and other seasonings. The brain and liver are boiled first before they are stir-fried with the rest of the ingredients.
The bubbles part of Tuslob Buwa is the heated mixture in oil that later turns into a bubbly texture. Now, many tourists are hesitant to try this street food due to how it’s made.
Street vendors typically reuse oil to make selling and coking more efficient. So you can’t blame them for their sanitary worries.
Although that’s a reasonable concern, you can try the safest one in Cebu’s most popular Tuslob Buwa outlet, Azul on Gorordo Avenue.
Tuslob Buwa is just 3 PHP/ 7 JPY/ 0.06 USD each while plate serving usually costs around 10 PHP/ 22 JPY/ 0.2 USD.
Puto Maya and Sikwate
One of the nicest things to eat in Cebu for breakfast is the classic Puto Maya and Sikwate. It is steamed glutinous rice combined with coconut and ginger.
It is usually accompanied by Tablea or cacao with sugar and Cebu mango. It is a sweet breakfast rice cake that makes each bite just satisfying.
To try the best Puto Maya and Sikwate breakfast combo, you can visit Tablea Chocolate Cafe on the ground floor of JY Square Salinas Drive in Cebu City.
I’m pretty sure you’ll now know what to eat in Cebu when you visit. These dishes are all distinctly Cebuano as well, so tasting them will give you a genuine sense of the local culture. These mostly homemade foods are just the best welcome you’ll ever get when traveling to Cebu.