Cebu is the center of the Visayas region. Dubbed as the Queen City of the South, Cebu is a filled with rich history. This province is the first land conquered by Spanish colonizers and even became the center for commerce and trade back in the day. Today, Cebu brims with life as its tourism keeps on flourishing. Visitors from all around the globe want to see the province’s white sand beaches, beautiful marine life, and so much more. But aside from island hopping, snorkeling, and city tours, Cebu City is also known for food. The Netflix show, Street Food, even dedicated a whole episode featuring the culinary feats of the region. We listed down the best street food you must try in Cebu, Philippines.
1. Bibingka (rice cake)
It is a popular native rice cake in the Philippines. It’s made from galapong, a type of milled glutinous rice, sugar, coconut milk, and butter. Though restaurants often offer bibingka all year round, bibingka is most popular during Christmas season. When Filipinos go to Christmas masses, vendors are often waiting outside the Church, ready to sell their delicious bibingka. Mandaue, Cebu offers the best bibingka. Cooks from Mandaue manually pound the rice they use for the bibingka. Pounding the rice allows the rice to breath creating a more textured bibingka when it’s cooked.
The Philippines often gets inspiration for their delicacies from the countries that it often trades with. China is one of the countries that has a tight knit relationship with the country. The Philippines siomai came from the Chinese dim sum, shumai. Siomai is often paired with soy sauce and calamansi. Cebu has restaurants that offer unlimited siomai to its customers. The most popular is the Siomai sa Tisa. Crowds often line up to take a bite of the siomais from this restaurant because of its distinct flavor.
Fishball is the number one food that you will often see at vendors’ carts. You don’t need a specific type of fish to create fishballs. They just need to be grounded and turned into paste. After molding them into a ball shape, the fish paste will be cooked on a deep-fry until brown. Fishball is paired with different types of sauces from spicy to sweet. Fishball is all over the Cebuano streets and night markets. This popular street food is best combined with sago’t gulaman, a drink made from brown sugar syrup complete with tapioca and jelly.
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4. Ginabot (fried intestines)
Ginabot is Cebu’s version of chicharon bulaklak or pork crackling made from pig intestines. Pork intestines are chopped then salted. After flavoring, the coated intestines will be deep fried until golden. The result is a crispy yet chewy deep-fried skin. Ginabot is paired with vinegar and other sour sauces. Dip it in the vinegar and the intestines will soak the vinegar and will give a ton of flavors. They also serve as a food best paired with Coke or a bottle of beer. Ginabot is all over the streets of Cebu City. A piece is only worth 10 pesos.
5. Pinaypay (banana fritters)
Thanks to its beautiful tropical climate, the Philippines is abundant with fruits like bananas. Because of the abundance of the fruit, Filipinos have been creating delicious banana desserts that can be seen in its streets today. Pinaypay is one of them. Pinaypay is a Cebuano dessert made of fried plantain covered with sugar. Saba, a type of banana used to make pinaypay, and it is abundant in Cebu. Saba is sweeter and more delicious than your ordinary banana. Pinaypay is a wonderful afternoon snack. You can find this delicacy at the streets and night markets of Cebu.
6. Kwek-kwek (orange coated quail eggs)
Kwek-kwek is another street food staple found not only in Cebu but also in every other province in the Philippines. Kwek-kwek is a tempura-like dish where the hard-boiled quail is coated with an orange batter then deep-fried. Like fishballs, kwek-kwek can be dipped to sweet or spicy sauces. The result is a fusion of different flavors with the delicious quail taking the center stage. Anywhere you go in Cebu there’s kwek-kwek. This dish is simply a traditional Filipino staple enjoyed during afternoon snacks or even late-night eat outs. Best consumed with a glass of ice-cold Coke or again, the sagot’gulaman.
7. Tuslob buwa (liver and brain dish)
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Tuslob buwa is a classic Cebuano street food popular amongst the people. But tuslob buwa is not for the fainted heart. Tuslob buwa is made from pork liver and brain (yes brain). The liver and brain are sautéed with onions, garlic, and shrimp paste then cooked with oil or lard or even soy sauce. This exotic delicacy tastes flavorful, every bite melt in your mouth. You won’t have a hard time finding a tuslob buwa seller in Cebu since almost every restaurant and eatery sell this dish. Tuslob buwa is a must for those who are looking for a more exciting dish.
8. Balut (duck embryo)
Balut has definitely put Filipino cuisines to the gastronomy map. This exotic dish is a staple to every street of the Philippines but it’s often feared by tourists who are not accustomed to eating baby ducks. Though it looks terrifying to eat baby ducks, the balut is actually a very flavorful dish. The taste of the soup inside the egg exudes that umami flavor and the duck itself taste like your regular chicken (just a bit smaller and rawer). Cebu offers fresh balut that you can enjoy at night with a bottle of beer.
9. Lechon (roasted suckling pig)
Lechon is not a street food per se, but it is simply the best dish that the Queen City of the South can offer. Even the late food writer Anthony Bourdain agrees. When Bourdain went to the Philippines for his show ‘No Reservations’, the acclaimed celebrity chef and writer called the Cebu lechon as “The best pig ever.” The crispy skin and the soft and flavorful meat inside make lechon a world-class delicacy. Pair it with a well-made gravy, rice, a bottle of beer or just a root beer and you’ll have yourself a hearty meal that you won’t ever forget.
Have a foodgasm at the Queen City of the South
Cebu should not only be known for its splendid beauty. The Queen City of the South should also be recognized for its delicious street food. This list of the best street food in Cebu, the Philippines, should help you have a great food trip when you visit this province.
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