10 Must-Try Authentic Local Food in Cebu You do not Find Out if You do not have Cebuano Friends

It's Sinulog season and I am pretty sure that there are many first-timers here in Cebu.   Well, Cebu has a lot of good places to eat.  Cebu is highly urbanized so one can easily find excellent dining places all over the island.  With the rise of high-end restaurants, most of the tourists do not get to taste the food that truly represents Cebu.  Kalami Cebu and Aldrincore Moshpit present the 10 must-try authentic local food in Cebu that you do not find out if you do not have Cebuano friends.

10 Must-Try Authentic Local Food in Cebu You do not Find Out if You do not have Cebuano Friends

1. Ginabot

If you have a Cebuano friend, just tell him/her that you want to eat ginabot and for sure he/she will show the way.  If not then you may visit Fuente Osmena or Redemptorist area and ask where to eat ginabot.  Ginabot or fried pork intestines is arguably the most popular fried food item among students and working people.  It's affordable, crispy and super addictive.

This must-try local food is the best seller in pungko-pungko stalls .   You can easily find this on Sinulog Sunday. Just go to the back of Sampaguita Suites or the road going to Redemptorist Church going to Mango Avenue and you will find many vendors selling this.

2. Chicken Proven

This street food has become popular recently.   Chicken proven is made of the proventriculus of the chicken that is dipped in a batter then deep fried. The chicken proven craze started in Cagayan de Oro. It has arrived Cebu a coupe of years ago and it has steadily gained its share of loyal patrons.

You normally find chicken proven stalls near Chong Hua Hospital in the Fuente Osmena area as well as the back of Cebu Doctor's University Hospital.  At night, you will find a lot of chicken proven stalls near Cebu IT Park.  There is a big chance that you could find a Chicken Proven stall at the Fuente Osmena area on Sinulog Sunday.

3. Ngohiong

If you are from Luzon or overseas,  most likely you will not encounter ngohiong if you do not have Cebuano friends.  Ngohiong is another Cebuano original.  It is like lumpia or spring rolls but with a 5-spice twist.  This is another fried local food but unlike the others which are made of offal, the filling of ngohiong is usually just vegetables.   We normally dip ngohiong into a special spicy sauce.

You will know how authentic is a local food when locals fight over which is the best place to eat for that specific food.  If you ask a Cebuano where the best ngohiong is, they will have a variety of answers.  You may get answers like Doming's, Chinese, Carlos, Ngohiong Express, Lumpia House, etc. Indeed, there are a lot of good places for ngohiong and each one has its merits.  For Sinulog Sunday, you may find some ngohiong outlets near the parade areas.

You probably know already that Cebu and Lechon are practically synonymous but if you ask a local where to buy the best lechon, you will be surprised that many of their answers are names that you have not heard before.  If you are a tourist most likely you get to eat lechon in hotels and restaurants.

If I have friends from out of town, most likely I will just buy lechon on my favorite stall or a order a whole lechon from a specialist like Alejo's and have a lechon party at home.  Lechon is the top local food in Cebu for celebrations and if you are lucky, someone will invite you to have lechon at their house on the feast day of Sto. Nino.

5. Steamed Rice
Cebuanos love dim sum and you cannot enjoy dim sum in Cebu without steamed rice.  When we binge on dimsum, we just do not eat plain rice or even fried rice because we love to eat it with steamed rice.  Steamed rice is a rice dish invited in a local Chinese restaurant and it has been a local favorite for decades.  Steamed rice is made of fried rice, topped with a thick sauce that has pork, shrimps, and veggies.

Steamed Rice is the top dish of local dim sum joints like Harbour City, Ding How, and Dimsum Break.  If you want an affordable steamed rice, you can head to Tisa and have your fill at Braddex .

6. Puso
Our friends from the other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao would know puso or hanging rice. Cebuanos just love to eat anything with puso.  From lechon to ginabot to ngohiong, we will normally look for puso to eat it with.   There was a time, I was living in Manila that I very puzzled why my Luzon friends can eat barbecue and isaw without puso.  It turns out the puso is somehow more of a Visayan thing.

So if you are not from Cebu, you should eat our top local food with puso.  When in Cebu, please eat like a Cebuano.  Have a puso or 5!

7. Larang
Do you love soup? Do you love to eat fish? Try out nilarang.  Cebuanos do not usually do sinigang and the closest among local dishes is nilarang.  Nilarang is more of a hot and sour fish soup and it is a favorite soup among working men.   The top larang places sometimes make larang out of exotic fish like kiampao (stingray) or rompi (barracuda) but any big fish can make a delicious larang.

A lot of people go to Pasil (Cebu's major fish market) at dawn to sip on some larang made from the freshest catch of the day.  Pasil is a bit notorious and it would be good to go there with a local.  For a quick larang fix, you may also go to Ramos Public Market.

8. Tuslob Buwa
Tuslob Buwa (pork brain fondue) is another legendary dish that traces its roots to Pasil.  From a favorite after-school snack of pupils, Tuslob Buwa has somehow gained popularity with the millennials.  A couple of years ago, several restaurants opened offering DIY Tuslob Buwa .

You can now find Tuslob Buwa at the weekend buffet at Kan-anan at Cebu Parklane Hotel .  For a DIY Tuslob Buwa experience, you may head to Azul at Gorordo Avenue in Lahug.  I brought some Filipino-Canadian tourists one time to Azul and they loved it although it is not for everyone.

9. Pochero
Pochero has a totally different meaning in Cebu.  Here in Cebu, Pochero is not a stew but a beef shank dish in a clear soup. It is pretty much like the bulalo of Batangas and people usually try to "suck" the bone marrow.  We love this soup so much that there are several places in Cebu specializing this dish.

For the best Pochero, you can go to Kusina Uno in F. Cabahug Street, Marjo's in Escario and Gorodo, Sabel's Capitol Site and Abuhan in IT Park.  During Sinulog Sunday, you could also go Muvanz in Juana Osmena which just a few meters from the parade route.

10. Balbacua
Speaking of stews, you may try a local dish called balbacua.  This dish is usually made from ox tail and it is characterized by the soft and gelatinous skin of the meat.  The soup of the balbacua is really rich and most likely have a high level of fat.  It is normally eaten with mais (corn grits) and it goes very well with beer.

Some of the best version of this cholesterol-rich dish can be found in NL Cafe in North Reclamation Area and Mattias BBQ in A.S. Fortuna, Mandaue.

These are just 10 of the must-try authentic local food in Cebu that you do not find out if you do not have Cebuano friends but I am pretty sure I could name another ten.  Cebu is such a great island to have a food trip and I would like to encourage you to explore and try out our local dishes.  #Eatlocal!!!

I would like to give a billion thanks to Aldrin of AldrinCore Moshpit for creating such awesome graphics. If you are looking for a guy for your graphics needs like logos, just look Aldrincore Moshpit up!


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