27 Mar 2012
You don't travel to Cebu City just for the sake of traveling, do you? In our culture, lechon is number one in the list of favorite cuisines that we don't skip in any food destination. Even in the busyness of our daily lives, lechon has become part of our fast meals. There is no food court in any mall of Metro Manila without a food stall that serves lechon. After all, lechon is a national dish of the Philippines according to Wikipedia. And my bet is, you're as curious as I was to finally get to taste Cebu's Lechon.
|The famous Cebu's Lechon|
Interestingly, it's not Cebu's "Places of Interests" that excited me the most days before I flown to the Queen City of the South. Maybe because, it's already given that I get to see them. Cebu's famous lechon was the main thing that occupied my mind in a very delectable way. And weeks since I had return, I am still eager to taste it again. The meat is just so delicious. Its best tasting flavor is unique from its tender meat to its crispy yet soft skin.
In eating Cebu lechon, you don't dip it in the usual gravy that we used to have as sauce for our lechon here in Luzon. In Cebu, the condiment for lechon is a wishy washy mixture of vinegar and soy sauce with cayenne pepper. The way Cebu Lechon is marinated, this sauce ultimately comes compatible with the relish of Cebu's roasted pig. Maybe that's one of the two reasons why I was tempted to eat only with my bare hands on my first lunch in Cebu. Yes, I've eaten out with my bare hands. Forget about the fork and spoon. As long as I have my Cebu lechon meal, I will eat in bare hands hehe. The second reason I didn't use the utensils was the rice that I only discovered in Cebu. Another food favorite you must taste in your first visit of Cebu.
Just merely imagining Cebu's lechon with its partner rice which is called puso in front of me, I couldn't control my drooling for these food. Pronounced "pusô" with stress at the last syllable and said in quickly manner as compared to Tagalog word puso which means heart that is pronounced "pu-so" with a slow long emphasize on the first syllable, the staple eaten with Cebu's lechon is served wrapped in young coconut leaves. Although the wrapped rice is cut into two, it's still intact. When I picked one of them and tried to unwrapped it, the desire to eat kicked in. And so after quickly going to wash area, I ate with my bare hands and really enjoyed my lunch in an unknown area of Cebu City. I'll talked about it later.
Pusô is very popular in Cebu City. You will see them in restaurants, eateries and food court stalls that serve lechon. One interesting factor about this rice is: it's either on your plate when you order them or you see them hanging on the eateries or restaurants that sold them. I think it's the main reason that it is also popularly known as "hanging rice". So, if you're not sure or you have difficulty in the right pronunciation of "Pusô", just say "Hanging Rice".
|Cebu's Pusô aka Hanging Rice|
My first lunch in Cebu happened in an unlikely place for travelers. After I saw Fort San Pedro, Plaza Independencia, Cebu Cathedral, Basilica Minore del Santo Nino and Magellan's Cross the morning of my first day there, I decided to get lost in the city. I just took a passenger jeepney from Legazpi Street. Instead of alighting at Osmena Blvd, I remained on board until I noticed I was already too far in some shabby community miles away from a burned building of Gaisano Mall. I got worried a little bit until I saw row of eateries with lechon grills on both sides of the road. When I got off the jeepney, I became hungry by just seeing those whole roasted pigs. And so I got in one of the eateries and that's where I've taken the image below of the yummy Cebu lechon meal before finally savoring the visitors favorite food of Cebu City.
|Cebu City's Lechon Meal|
Where To Eat Lechon In Cebu?
The best place to have a taste of lechon in Cebu City is CnT Lechon located at 1377 Rama Ave, Guadalupe, Cebu City. You may call them at these telephone numbers: (332) 254-6641 and (332) 254-4249.
Whenever in mall, e.g. SM City Cebu, I would have my lechon from Marina Lechon located in the food court. In Robinson's Cebu City, I had my lechon from a food stall named Sugbahan. In Colon, Cebu lechon is sold at Metro Gaisano food court located at sixth floor.
Here are other Cebuano dishes that deserved high ratings:
Balbacua - If we have Bulalo in Metro Manila, they have Balbacua in Metro Cebu. This Cebuano specialty dish has become a favorite in roadside eateries. I don't know how they cook it but for me it's a culinary delight. The assortment of exotic beef parts, i.e. skin, oxtail and feet are cooked with other ingredients and the finished product is a bowl of tender and succulent meats swimming in viscous and a bit peppery and spicy broth. The color makes it more desirable. I don't know whether it contains some kind of food coloring or some herbs contribute to its delectable look. Maybe our Cebuano readers can tell us, so to our Cebuano kauban, amigos and amigas, kindly click here to share your know-how of your delicious Balbacua. Anyway, this is one great food you should not miss. You got to taste it. Your travel to Cebu will not be complete without it.
|Cebu City's Balbacua|
Where To Eat Balbacua?
Aside from eateries on waysides, food courts of major malls have Balbacua in their menus. I had my first bowl in Sugbahan sa Cebu in Robinson's Food Court. I fell in love with its taste right off so when I went to SM City Cebu City food court, I looked for a stall that sold this. And I wasn't disappointed with my second bowl in Marina.
Large Clams - This is great after you've trekked highlands of Cebu or just been to street hopping before noon. Having a great lunch with hot thin soup of fresh seafood cooked with spring onions and sliced ginger is a treat. The mere sight of large clams in hot white soup is so appetizing. It was only in Cebu that I've seen clams as large as my ladle.
|Cebu's Large Clams Dish|
Where To Eat Large Clams?
The best places to have this are food courts of any major malls, i.e. Robinson's Mall, SM City Cebu and Ayala Center Cebu. Sugbahan sa Cebu of Robinson's and Marina of SM City both serve smoking hot large clams' soup.
Ensaladang Seaweed - Also known as Ensaladang Lato and called seaweed salad in English, this is a great side dish that is compatible with any viand. I had this whenever I ordered Cebu's lechon. The fresh seaweed, after thoroughly cleansed from impurities, is added with mixture of vinegar or lemon, chopped onion, crushed garlic, sliced ginger, small cubes of tomatoes, spring onion and dash of salt.
|Cebu's Ensaladang Seaweed|
Where To Eat Ensaladang Seaweed?
Because of the way it is prepared, make sure that your Ensaladang Seaweed is bought from reputable dining places. Since I've eaten out in Marina and Sugbahan which can be found in the food courts of SM City Cebu, Robinson's Cebu and Ayala Center Cebu and I hadn't experience any upset stomach after feasting upon the exotic food, I recommend to buy this specialty dish from the same places.
My Favorite in Dimsum Break - I happened to glanced to photos of menu attached to the wall of the popular food chains in Cebu and one authentic food caught my attention. I ordered one serving and I came to like it very much. Unfortunately, I forgot its name, blame it to the yummy food LOL. Anyway, I had it pictured. Just look at the picture below and look for the similar image in a Dimsum Break branch.
|My favorite specialty from Dimsum Break|
Where Can I Found Dimsum Break?
Dimsum Break is a very popular dining destination serving wide variety of very affordable foods. It's everywhere in Cebu City. Eating out in Dimsum Break is like eating out in Chowking but with a twist. You'll like it there. Aside from having great tasting dishes, the crews are so nice and respectful. The branches I've been to are located in Colon and in E-Mall.
Sinugba or Grilled Fish - I always eat grilled fish in Metro Manila but the ones I've tried in Cebu are different. They taste as if they're just picked from a newly arrived fisherman's catch and put right into smoldering charcoal to grill. So tasty that you would be tempted to consume more rice to satisfy the craving that the grilled fish suddenly brings. In Tagalog, we call it "Malakas sa kanin."
|Sinugba or Grilled Fish sold in Cebu's sidewalk|
Where To Eat Inexpensive Sinugba?
Being a traveler in budget, I can't afford to eat in expensive restaurants serving fresh seafood where you point a live fish inside an aquarium and in turn an attendant will cook it for you. That's why when I got to pass by a sidewalk vendor with a makeshift food stall along Osmena Blvd between Colon and Sanciangko streets selling newly cooked food, I decided to give it a try. These food vendors are only available at nights and the way their foods are laid in a table, I could say the dishes are all newly cooked and the grilled fish really looked fresh before it grilled. That's where I had dinner one night with a fresh large "Inihaw na Alumahan" as my dish that truly made me full. It costed me only Php 50.
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