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6 Cebuano Dishes to try this Holy Week

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If you’re visiting Cebu for the Holy Week, try these delicious local dishes.

Inun-unan

Image by Raymund Macaalay

Inun-unan is the Visayan way of cooking fish by stewing it over vinegar, spicing it with ginger, and loading it with bits of vegetables such as radish and ampalaya. This dish is sour, salty, and tugs at the heart of every Cebuano. Any kind of fish will do but many would agree that cooking it with bangus, also known as milkfish, is the best. Try ditching the utensils and enjoy inun-unan over a bowl of warm rice.

Buwad

Buwad, also known as dried fish, is a local favorite. Cebuanos usually eat it with rice and egg but many also enjoy it with a caramelized mix of tomatoes and onions. If you’re trying buwad for the first time, the taste might take some getting used to. It is prepared in a similar way to beef jerky, so be prepared to drink a lot of water since some variants are seasoned with more salt than others. Try visiting the Taboan public market in Cebu City to see all the dried goods on display.

Utan Bisaya

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Utan bisaya is a simple dish that most Cebuanos will fondly remember as part of their childhood. The soup is a mix of various vegetables that have been cooked on pot of boiling water and seasoned with salt or some leftover fish. Local vegetables are often used but a mix of any kind of vegetables will do. It is so simple that anyone can make this dish at home. Try it and enjoy a warm bowl of utan bisaya on a cold and rainy day.

Binignit

A sweet and creamy concoction that is best enjoyed on a rainy day, binignit is a Cebuano staple during the Lenten Season. The ingredients for this colorful stew can vary but it is commonly a mix of jackfruit, saba (cooking bananas), landang (palm flour jelly balls), taro, glutinous rice, and sago which are then stewed in a mixture of coconut milk and brown sugar. Although the reason behind the practice is unclear, Cebuano households produce large batches of the dish every Good Friday. Don’t forget to savour every spoonful of binignit when you visit Cebu during Lent.

Biko

Image by The Little Epicurean

Biko is a popular household dessert that is traditionally served as an afternoon snack. The dish involves cooking the rice in a pot of coconut milk and topping it with a drizzle of rich brown sugar. To achieve this sweet and sticky consistency, do not substitute glutinous rice with any other kind since the results will not be the same.

Puto and Sikwate

Puto and sikwate is traditional pre-breakfast fare in many Cebuano households and it is sometimes followed by a heavier meal a few hours after. Puto is known as steamed sticky rice that has been seasoned with bits of ginger, salt, and sugar, while sikwate is a hot chocolate drink made from tableya de cacao (tablets of roasted cacao beans). Puto and sikwate always go together and is occasionally eaten with sweet ripe mangoes. If you are trying sikwate for the first time, try mixing it with sugar and milk to combat the bitter taste of the cacao.

 

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Bites

Cheap Eats: Cebuano Street Food

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Check out our list of affordable meals that ensure a gustatory experience right on the streets of Cebu.

Barbecue

Cheap Eats Cebuano Street Food - Visit Cebu

Barbecue is an integral component of the Cebuano lifestyle. Basted with a rich marinade of toyo (soy sauce) and other spices, there are endless skewered pork, chicken, and fish options that range from Php 10.00 to Php 65.00 (USD 0.19-USD 1.25). Simply pick out the meat you would like to have and hand them over to the vendor to be cooked. If you’re feeling adventurous, barbecued chicken feet (adidas) or intestines (atay) are good options to try. We recommend a visit to Matias BBQ for delicious barbecues—this place is usually filled with people so arrive earlier to secure a good spot.

A.S. Fortuna St., Banilad, Mandaue City

Balut

Cheap Eats Cebuano Street Food - Visit Cebu

Made of fertilized duck egg that has been hard-boiled between 12 to 21 days of its development, balut has long been a source of culinary fascination. To eat it, create a small opening at the top of the shell, just enough to drink the soup the has pooled inside. You can then peel away the rest of the shell and sprinkle salt and vinegar to eat the actual egg. If you’re new to Cebu, include this in your list of must-try dishes since one egg usually costs Php15.00 (USD 0.29). Just remember that the chick’s features become more pronounced the longer the egg has been incubated—its developed beak and bones lend a crunchier texture that most people enjoy. Balut stands can be seen all around the city, particularly by late afternoon.

Mandaue City Garden, S.B. Cabahug, Mandaue City

Kwek-kwek

Cheap Eats Cebuano Street Food - Visit Cebu

Kwek-kwek are hard-boiled quail eggs that have been coated in a savory orange-colored batter, then deep fried. Liberal amounts of food coloring is used to achieve the signature bright batter since an orange color is thought to make food more appetizing. We recommend eating kwek-kwek with a spicy vinegar dip, just be careful and steer clear of stalls that allow double dipping. Try the kwek-kwek stands scattered around the Mandaue City Garden, where you can buy three pieces of kwek-kwek for only Php15.00 (USD 0.29).

Mandaue City Garden, S.B. Cabahug, Mandaue City

Ginabot

Cheap Eats Cebuano Street Food - Visit Cebu

Ginabot is a pig intestine that has been coated in cornstarch, then deep-fried until crispy. It is usually sold for Php20.00 (USD 0.38) in pungko-pungko stalls, along with other deep fried food such as lumpia (spring rolls), chorizo, and pork chop. Pungko-pungko means ‘to sit or squat’, and in these stalls, diners sit together side-by-side on one table, which can make it a tight fit. Try visiting the Pungko-pungko sa Fuente stall to get a firsthand glimpse of Cebuano street food culture.

52 A.J. Llorente Street, Cebu City  

Siomai

Cheap Eats Cebuano Street Food - Visit Cebu

The influence of Chinese culture is very prevalent in Cebuano cuisine. Siomai is a Cebuano take on the Chinese dumpling. It is commonly made of chopped pork, flavored with salt and spices, and steamed in dumpling wrappers. A mix of calamansi (Philippine variant of lime), toyo (soy sauce), and chili sauce is used as a dipping sauce. Taste some of the best siomai for only Php 8.00 (USD 0.15) each when you visit Tisa, Labangon. There, you will find rows of stalls claiming to be the ‘original siomai sa Tisa’. Try visiting the stalled named ‘Way Tugpahay Siomai Sa Tisa’ and enjoy eating siomai with puso (hanging rise) and a bottle of Coke.

816 Katipunan St, Labangon, Cebu City

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Where to dine in Cebu City this Holy Week

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The long holiday is coming ahead and most restaurants will be closed during this time. To save you the stress of having to look for places to enjoy good food, we have listed restaurants that are open during the Holy Week.

House of Lechon

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Lechon coming from Carcar has always been a local favorite among Cebuanos. If you’re in the city and cannot make the trip this Holy Week, try dining at the House of Lechon instead, where they serve their famous Carcar-style lechon. If you’re not eating meat this season, House of Lechon recommends their Mixed Vegetable, Baked Scallops and Calamari Squid dishes. Top it off with their bestselling Pandan Tapioca afterwards.

Acacia St., Kamputhaw, Cebu City

Burrow

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Everyone’s favorite place to dine on unlimited chicken wings is open on Holy Week. Burrow’s serves their famous wings with five different flavors that is worth enjoying during this season. Burrow’s will be closed for Good Friday (April 19) but for they will be open for rest of the week.

Unit 4, Tsai Hotel and Residences, Wilson St., Lahug

Ilaputi

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Ilaputi is a true Cebuano restaurant that has been serving Asian inspired dishes for over 16 years. A culinary destination for locals and visitors alike, each dish is made using only the best ingredients in the market. Local flavors, sauces and spices are creatively combined to make the perfect meal. For Lent, try their highly recommended Salmon Poke and salad dishes.

Axis Entertainment Avenue, Vibo Place, N.Escario St.

Balay sa Busay

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Overlooking the top of Cebu, Balay sa Busay is the place to enjoy delicious Filipino food at a reasonable price. If you happen to visit them this Holy Week, try their Pinakbet, Shrimps in Buko, and Milk Tea Shaved Ice while enjoying the fresh air from the mountains.

Cebu Tops Road, Cebu City

Mr. A Bar & Restaurant

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If you plan to visit Tops, stopover for dinner at Mr. A’s Bar and Restaurant. It is popular among locals and foreigners for their delectable, all-time Filipino favorites. For Holy Week, make sure you try their Tuna Belly, Seafood Marinara pasta, Chao Pachin, as well as their Mango Float for dessert.

Lower Busay Heights, Busay, Cebu City

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