Sinulog Side Trips

Hello, dear readers!

I’m finally back! (hopefully not just for now)

            I’ve missed you all and this blog I call home! We all may have settled into the new year already but the party isn’t over yet for Cebu. 

      Cebu’s most festive weekend is right around the corner and all hospitality establishments are most probably fully booked by now. This is the time when the metro is teeming with tourists and the traffic is most unbearable. Since you’re reading this post, you’re likely to find yourself in Cebu for the biggest, most awaited street mardi gras in town - SINULOG. 

            So, now that you’re in my beautiful hometown, I can’t help but recommend the taste of Cebu. Like I always say, “To know Cebu, EAT Cebu!” 

            The dining establishments in this list would be a shame to miss while you’re here. Read up and find out why... ;)

            I think Cebu’s most popular dishes are LECHON and BBQ! So, I’m starting the list with the best places to grab these. :D

                You can’t be in Cebu and miss out on this glorious, whole roasted pig worshipped and revered by many who have tasted it, even Anthony Bourdain himself. Though there are many versions concocted by the competing entrepreneurs, Cebuanos know what Cebu lechon really tastes like. And these, for me, are the most trusted brands available for retail.

CnT Lechon
photo from www.choosephilippines.com

     This roast pig family empire has been around since 1987 and has already established themselves as a staple for whoever finds themselves in Cebu as well as for the locals. This is the lechon that deserves to fly back home with you to wherever you're from.

They have several branches around the metro, specifically at Guadalupe, across SM facing Radisson Blu Hotel, and Ayala Center Cebu Food Choices.

Rico’s Lechon
Acacia St., Brgy. Kamputhaw, Cebu City
Facebook: Rico's Lechon
(032) 231 0958

 photos from: Rico's Lechon Facebook page

            Rico’s has always been my family’s favorite for whole roast pig during special occasions. The skin is distinctly thin, crisp and for some reason, the fat does not seem to attach itself to the skin. Their young suckling pigs (lechon de leche) are also very tender.

They have recently opened a new branch at Escario with a vibrant, charming interior designed by Vito Selma.

Tatang’s Lechon Belly
(across Pino Restaurant) Wilson St., Apas, Lahug, Cebu City
Contact: (032) 316 4719 or 0916 226 9946

photo from Tatang's Facebook page

         Some people say you cannot put whole lechon and boneless lechon belly under the same category because they somehow don’t have the same taste profile. There’s something about boneless lechon and lechon with bones. Well, I think I agree because the lechon belly is entirely the meaty trunk of the pig stuffed with herbs and spices and roasted whole; there must be a certain, different technique in cooking this innovation. Among the lechon belly players that emerged during its boom last year, Tatang’s has come out as the strongest contender, rolling out probably the crispiest skin and juicy, fragrant, and extra flavorful meat.

2) BBQ
Next to lechon baboy, I think barbecue is an emperor in itself, ruling the streets at sundown. It’s almost impossible to resist these smoky morsels as soon as your nose catches the aroma wafting through the air, as if the burning charcoal is calling you. I love barbeque, particularly chicken barbecue. 
           Gov. M. Cuenco Ave., Mandaue City, Cebu

            Having mentioned chicken barbecue, this is by far the best chicken barbecue joint in Cebu. This single, home-based establishment never runs out of customers as soon as they open. They’re only open for lunch and dinner and you’d be amazed how people from all walks of life – office workers, students, families, managers and big corporate personalities – would flock over and devour their consistently tasty offerings. Their balbacua (gelatinous, velvety beef skin stewed in a viscous, yellow-green broth) is also a must try but like all popular restaurants, it’s best to be there as early as possible to get dibs on the complete lineup. ;)

Yakski Barbecue
268-B, Don Mariano Cui St., Capitol, Cebu City
Facebook: Yakski Barbecue
0917 322 5754 or (032) 254 3977

photos from Yakski Facebook page

          While most tourists are so eager to visit Larsian’s, I would prefer to recommend Yakski’s for its cleaner, more comfortable ambience and service. Locals would say Larsian’s is more of a heritage site for tourists to be spotted at but Yakski’s has better barbecue and this is where most of the locals go for barbecue within the area. The main difference is in the sauce. Yakski’s teriyaki-like sauce is very distinct and will keep you coming back.

3) Azul
       Streets of Asilo, Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City             
      Facebook: Azul Cebu

 photo from buyincebu.blogspot.com

photo from sugbu.ph

TUSLOB BUWA – this has got to be the most unique food item that Cebu has to offer. What once was poor man’s fare, formerly only found in Pasil, is now a popular trend that many quickly caught on to. But the man who spearheaded this trend, Ian Sekong, is the brainchild of Azul, the place that set the flame ablaze.

I personally like to describe this as Cebu’s very own version of fondue. Instead of dipping bread cubes into melted cheese, puso replaces the bread cubes and is dipped into pork brain paste cooked in its broth, seasoned with chicken liver, onion, dried shrimps, and soy sauce. You can also request for chili flakes to add some heat, which is what I prefer to do. The best part is, you get to cook it yourself; experiential dining at its best! Well, if you can’t, you don’t have to break a sweat. The waiters can do it for you. ;)

4) Orange Karenderia
      La Guardia St., Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City
      Facebook: Orange Karenderia
      0917 721 0923

photo from Orange Karenderia Facebook page

photo from zerothreetwo.com

If you like Crispy Pata (deep-fried whole pork limb), you’ll be amazed how Orange Karenderia’s Crispy Buntot tastes very identical to its red meat counterpart. It’s no wonder then that their flagship dish is dubbed as the “Crispy Pata of the Sea”. This was easily a favorite for my family when I treated them for lunch during my birthday last year. I also love how this establishment innovated the carenderia concept, taking it to a higher level with cleaner, modern interiors. Other favorite dishes are their Larang, Betsy’s Garlic Chicken, Pinakbet, and Sinuglaw.

5) Doming’s
      Fairlane Village, Guadalupe, Cebu City
     (032) 255 7399

photo from caloycebu.blogspot.com

Something unique in Cebu is also our ngohiong. This is somewhat like a fried spring roll but has a distinctly thick, coarse wrapper and stuffed with seasoned bamboo shoots, vegetables, sometimes with ground pork, and a special sauce. Doming’s is a notorious hole-in-the-wall in Fairlane Village, Guadalupe known for their crispy, tasty ngohiong and fried native chicken.

They are only open for lunch, thus the wave of zombies diners attacking the place as early as possible. The waiting line is really long and the setting isn’t very sanitary and comfortable, so I suggest it’s best to call in your orders ahead and just have it for take out or take home. 

6) Parrt Ebelle
      North Reclamation Area, Cebu City

photo from babsytababsy.wordpress.com

photo from foodspotting.com

Cebu has a particularly distinct meal called SuTuKil or STK, which stands for Sugba (grill), Tuwa (soup), Kilaw (ceviche – fresh, raw fish cooked in the vinegar it is poured). This is one of the most commonly recommended dishes for tourists. This is actually a compound term for the trio of dishes prepared from one fish, usually from Tanguige (Mackerel), Mol-mol (Parrot Fish) or Lamon-lamon (Blackspot Tuskfish). It is an interesting display of skill in preparing different dishes from just one main ingredient.

             My family’s favorite STK joint is Parrt Ebelle. What makes them stand out is their use of commercially rare, huge deep-sea fish such as Mamsa, Tasik, and Rumpi. My dad’s choice is Tasik for any of the Sutukil dishes because of its fine, flaky meat that remains juicy whether in soup or grilled. He frequents Parrt Ebelle for their tinola which only fares for P50 per serving. I, on the other hand, am a big fan of their steak-like, juicy grilled fish. Steak-like, because each serving is at least 2 inches thick and about 5 inches in length. It’s good for 2-3 persons.  

            It’s best to go there during lunchtime and be early so you won’t have difficulty getting a table. :)

         You may read more about it on Sunstar's website by my favorite writer and editor, Luis Quibranza III. :)

            I know most people aren’t here just for the weekend so I hope this comprehensive list will help you make your stay worthwhile. Have fun! Cebu is delicious!

For the local readers, any other places or dishes you’d like to suggest for this list? I’d love to hear from you through comments on this post. :)

To know Cebu, EAT Cebu!”

oink oink,

Babe for Food
- your BFF in Cebu dining! :)


Burger the Way You Want It

            So, what’s all this fuss about a burger joint from Davao breaking into Cebu territory just for the Sinulog weekend? Even if I’m trying to shift to a healthier lifestyle now, I just had to find out. I thought to myself, tasting wouldn’t hurt, right? Let’s see…

           I was honestly trying to ignore this burger stall but I couldn’t resist my favorite fashion blogger and foodie, Issa of issaplease.com, inviting me for lunch. Val of valentingabutan.com was also there to join us. So, I quickly headed down to Backyard Burgers camped within the vicinity of the old Baseline.

THAT in itself is a GOOD sign

            It was a shabby set up but big things come in small packages. This burger stall meant business. I didn’t see much people around but there seemed to be some sort of invisible loooong line because names for burger orders were barked out endlessly, and the owners of the orders just suddenly popped in from nowhere to claim their burgers.

            Looking at the photos of their menu on the wall, I had quite a hard time taking my pick. Everything looked sooo good! But since I’m a sucker for the bacon-mushroom-cheeseburger kinda burger, I had to get the Garshroom Bacon Burger. Issa got the Korean BBQ Burger and Val got the Japanese Oishi Burger.

Watching the assembly line was TORTURE. You’ll see what I mean…

             There was a point where Issa was silently munching her burger as if it had hypnotized her. And then I discovered that the only way to shut this girl up was to stuff a big, tasty burger in her mouth. Well, she does like them BIG. ;)

              This burger exploded in my mouth! Ohohoyeah! No regrets there! The first bite got me hooked that I suddenly got selfish and didn't really want to share my burger anymore. They definitely got it right, exactly how I wanted my burger - sloppy, oozing with cheese, and oh, that smokiness from chargrilling! Magnifique! Bravo! Magnifico! Kamikaze! Kumbaya! Shalom!  Hakuna Matata! Gibberish in my head! That first bite got me insane and without second thought, the “tasting” turned into “a hasty gobbling up of the entire burger”.

                This burger with a Japanese costume had the right kick from the light wasabi mayo. Wave that Japanese flag high and proud, baby! 

          I wanted so badly to go back for dinner and try the other variations, like their Signature Burger and Hussein Kebab Burger! And so they say, “I’ll start dieting… TOMORROW!” :))

            Backyard Burgers is only in Cebu until January 18. You’d hate to miss this. It’s an inevitable stopover anyway since they are along the Sinulog party route, so make sure to grab their burger! Prices range from P150 to P250 for these great-tasting burgers!

            Oh, and here's the catch! They'll also be having booths near Ayala and Fooda Mango for Sinulog Invasion so keep an eye on them! 

I heard that they are planning to open doors in Cebu for the long run soon, too. If so, I can seriously say, they would be a strong contender in the burger scene. They mean serious business. And I can say, once you’ve tasted it, this Davao bet is more than welcome in Cebu. I can’t wait for them to put up shop myself!

Like their Facebook page for updates on their whereabouts in Cebu!

To know Cebu, EAT Cebu!

oink oink,

Babe for Food
- your BFF in Cebu dining :)


Flame It: Keeping the Flame Alive

Sometimes, we take for granted people or things because they've been around for a long time. You know how you get butterflies in your stomach during your first few dates with that special someone? And if it works out, you can't wait to be with that person again – the sooner, the better. Every moment together feels so special. Everything around you seems to disappear or go mute when you two are together. But somehow, the butterflies flutter away once you've grown accustomed to each other and you forget how special s/he is already.

-=-=-=-=-=-=- Yeah, yeah, enough of the cheese. Let's get real. -=-=-=-=-=-=-

          It's much like a fresh, new restaurant that just turned up in the block. Everybody wants to head over there and try it. And if it's good, they'll keep coming back until they get sick of it. But after 6 months, once most of the town has dipped their fingers in that restaurant – posted photos on Instagram and checked in at Foursquare – they'll just pass by it without even second thoughts of stopping by. Only a handful of restaurants get past this stage barely unscathed – those that have passed the test of time and have successfully embedded their names and dishes in people’s taste buds.

            What was once a small diner at Escario Street (now occupied by Surfin’ Ribs), Flame It! has proved to withstand the test of time. Having established themselves, they managed to infiltrate and remain a tenant in the first two major malls of the city – Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu. For those who don’t know Flame It, they are actually the first local brand in Cebu to serve commercial charbroiled burgers. To date, they have been grilling burgers and sausages for 13 years now. I guess the anchor of their longevity through the years is consistency of quality.

            Refusing to be forgotten, they have recently come up with a new line of products to add to their regular menu – Crazy Fries, Chicken Poppers and Honey Mustard Chicken Burger. And why not? These more than familiar snack items are easily a favorite and if you’re not careful, can easily seduce you to order another serving. These aren’t your regular fries though. They’re jazzed up in three different flavors – Sloppy Fries, Chili & Jalapeño Fries, and Cheezy Fries.

Cheezy Fries (P95) and Chili & Jalapeño Fries (P95)
            What's cheesier than cheese-flavored fries? Cheezy Fries - it can't get any cheezier than this. Besides the mainstream cheese powder coating, it's sprinkled with loads of parmesan cheese, smothered with melted cheddar cheese, and topped with shredded cheese. It's a Cheese Overload! This one's definitely for the crazy cheesehead. 

                The Chili & Jalapeño Fries is said to be the bestseller, having a charming tartness from the jalapeños that cuts through the heat of the chili while teasing your taste buds with the cooling melted cheddar cheese. It's also doused with Flame It's very own Flaming Lips Chili Oil that leaves your lips swollen as if from a bite. If you're a "Heat fan", this has your name on it.

Sloppy Fries (P145)

            Hands down, I'd pick the Sloppy Fries over the rest anytime. It's got all the dreamy fried sidings that I'd crave for at Flame It - potato fries, twistee fries, and onion rings! Topped with extra creamy sauce, melted cheddar cheese, AND bacon bits! Sloppy is always best when it comes to such comfort food as these. 

Chicken Poppers (P80)

            As for the Chicken Poppers, I’d say they’re a rustic version of chicken nuggets served with a choice of 3 different dips: cheezy, honey mustard, and garlic mayo. These bite-sized chicken delights come in regular or spicy. I love mildly spicy food so the spicy chicken poppers appealed to me. I find that they are best enjoyed with the honey mustard and garlic mayo dips.

Honey Mustard Chicken Crisp Fillet Burger (P99)

            The Honey Mustard Chicken Crisp Fillet Burger is a more filling snack. The chicken is well-complemented with the honey mustard sauce and is given a light, refreshing touch with the coleslaw salad.   

Mini Sampler (P128)
            If you and your friends are new to Flame It, I suggest you get their Mini Sampler. It’s a melody of their best burger variants all in a platter, er, basket – Bacon, Mushroom & Cheese, Garlic Mayo, Cream Cheese & Garlic, and Chili con Carne. Then you won’t have to be confused and take so long to pick your burger like how I am especially when I’m hungry. 

The Patriot (P185)

                In case you're wondering what they're actual burger looks like, I also wanna share with you a new addition to their premium burgers - The Patriot. It's a premium Angus beef patty smothered with caramelized onions and topped with a slice of American cheese. Indeed, you can taste the genuine Angus beef in a succulent, aromatic patty.

               Since Flame It is strategically located proximally to the cinemas in the malls, I think it'd be a great idea to get these new snack items as movie grub. Those Chicken Poppers could replace popcorn and the Crazy Fries also make good company. 

              In other news, they also deliver and cater since their Mabolo branch is open until 12:00 mn on weekdays and 2:00 a.m on weekends. That's something to add to the midnight cravings list. You can hit them up on their contact numbers listed below for inquiries and orders, and stay updated with their promos through their FB page.                   

Flame It! 

4/F, Ayala Center Cebu (beside Red Mango/Happy Lemon) 
3/F, SM City Cebu (near IMAX Theater and Bowling Center) 
G/F, Robinsons Cybergate, Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City
Juan Luna Avenue, Mabolo, Cebu City

Contact: (032) 260 0709 or 268 0905

FacebookFlame It

To know Cebu, eat Cebu!”

oink oink,

Babe for food

-your BFF in Cebu dining

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