Street Food Staples in Cebu, Philippines
Just like other Asians, Filipinos are crazy about food.
And of course, we have great food—pork, seafood, and all that—but if you are looking for a more exotic food experience, nothing can get more interesting than to eat (where else?) on the streets!
Cebu is well-known for its mangoes, lechon and amazing cuisine—but once you venture your culinary experiences from the restaurants to the streets, it gets even more interesting.
Cebuano Street Food, Anyone?
For most foreigners and tourists especially from developed countries, the closest thing one can have to ‘street food’ are the food trucks. These food trucks must have the necessary permits, licenses and registrations to operate.
Philippines is still casablanca in that regard—anything goes, although recently government has been implementing laws on disallowing vendors along sidewalks. You can still try street food in certain assigned areas.
Whether you’re a more adventurous eater or just a hungry penny pincher, here are some of the best street food to try in Cebu to get your gastronomical cravings satisfied.
(TAKE NOTE: Most street foods are not for health nuts. Most street foods are high in calories and fat.)
You’ve seen the Netflix Street Food feature, but here’s our own list, enjoy!
‘Pungko’, in Cebuano, means to ‘sit’ or to ‘squat’, which is how you usually do when you eat at pungko-pungko stalls. Vendors often sell different types of deep-fried food such as chorizo, bola-bola, taas, longganisa, lumpia, and ginabot; all paired perfectly with puso or hanging rice.
The Ginabot is the bestseller and something you should try. Ginabot is a deep-fried pig intestine coated in cornstarch. The food are often paired with vinegar, onions, soy sauce and chili.
These pungko-pungko stalls are located near offices, schools and universities, where you can find folks trying to find ways to save some money.
Some of the well-known pungko-pungko stalls are the Pungko-pungko sa Fuente (near the Fuente Osmeña Circle), outside the University of Southern Phlippines in Lahug and beside the Redemptorist Church.
2. TEMPURA, FISHBALL, KWEK-KWEK
One of the most popular street food in Cebu and the Philippines. Tempura and fishball vendors are ubiquitous outside schools. Tempura and fishballs are battered and deep-friend and sold on a stick.
Kwek-kwek is another popular street food found across the city; these are deep-fried quail or chicken eggs dipped in sweet and sour sauce.
Chicken Proben is a popular street food originating from Cagayan De Oro, Northern Mindanao. Proben is made of proventriculus, part of the digestive system of the chicken. It is often served in a stick and paired with puso or hanging rice.
Notable proben stands are in IT Park near McDonalds, in the University of San Jose Recoletos, and in Cebu Doctor’s University Hospital.
4. TUSLOB BUWA
‘Dip in bubbles’, is the literal meaning of ‘tuslob buwa’, which describes the act on how it is supposed to be eaten.
Basically, the dish is served in a bubbly dip made of pig’s brains, shrimp paste, fish sauce and spices, and you have to dip the puso (rice) and eat it. The tuslob buwa is meant to be shared between strangers.
Tuslob buwa is said to have originated in Pasil, Cebu. One of the ghetto and more dangerous neighborhoods of the city.
Famous tuslob buwa stalls include Azul by Gorordo, and Papart’s in Tipolo, Mandaue.
If you’re looking for something more exotic, try the Sa-ang or ‘spider shells’. Saang is often cooked by grilling or boiled in water, making it easier to pick the meat from inside the shels. They are best eaten fresh. Saang is often dipped in vinegar spiced with chili and onions, and is best paired with puso.
You can’t talk about ‘street food’ without mentioning Siomai.
The siomai is the Cebuano’s take on the steamed Chinese dumpling. It is normally filled with pork, and enjoyed with a dipped mixed with soy sauce, chili sauce and calamansi.
You can find siomai by many street food stalls, carenderias, eateries and resataurants. It is sold for as low as 7 PHP each. The most famous areas that sell siomai are in Labangon, along V. Rama, and of course, in Tisa.
There is even a Siomai Festival celebrated annually in Tisa, also organized in honor of Tisa’s patron saint San Lorenzo Ruiz.
Another street food known to be an aphrodisiac, the casual mention of ‘lansiao’ can stir laughter among locals.
This meal comes by many names: Lansiao. Soup number 5. Or to be very literal about it: bull testicle soup.
Technically, this food item is not sold ‘on the streets’, but it can be found in some carenderias, particularly one in Ramos.
Just like most Filipino food, it is not healthy at all—it is high in calorie, high in fat, high in cholesterol. Addicting, yes, but not recommended for everyday consumption.
Of course, how can we forget the world famous balut?
The balut has been featured around the world and in famous reality shows such as Fear Factor where contestants have to get through eating the balut to win the competition.
“That doesn’t seem too hard at all,” quite a lot of Filipinos will think. In fact, we love balut—and is even considered an aphrodisiac.
Essentially, the balut is a fertilized duck egg incubated for 14 to 21 days. Balut is high in protein and considered an aphrodisiac and a superfood even, with purported .several health benefits!
When eating the balut, you peel it slowly away while eating through the duck embryo.
Nowadays it is getting harder to find balut, because no real establishments or restaurants really sell it. You can only find them in the streets in the late evenings by vendors on bikes.
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