A Gastronomic Cebu Stay

Every Christmas vacation, my family goes out of town, and this year, Dad chose Cebu just because we couldn’t book a room at Camp John Hay in Baguio and that because there was a promo at AirPhil Express. Here’s a summary of our eating-filled Cebu trip.

Flight to Cebu

Being a promo fare — and beggars can’t be choosers — our flight to Cebu was at 5:50AM. AirPhil Express has beefed up its planes and service. In my opinion, it is much better than Cebu Pacific now. They ought to be because Philippine Airlines is trying to match or be better than its budget airline competitor. The Airbus 320 is shiny, relatively spacious, and the staff are no-nonsense and not too imposing. We arrived at Mactan International Airport at 7:05AM. We took a rental car (with driver) to our hotel which cost us around P400.

Checking in at Radisson Blu, Mandaue City, Cebu

Knowing that we will be arriving early, I already called up the hotel to request for an early check-in the day before we left. They confirmed our early check-in free of charge. We reached the hotel, right beside SM City Cebu, and tried to check-in at the Concierge. We were told that our room (Superior Room) was not yet ready so we needed to wait. Pleasantly, the lady at the Concierge told us that we can opt to take one of the two complimentary breakfast that morning. A pleasant surprise of this amazing flexibility! My dad was also surprised by the relaxed service of the hotel. +1 for that! We all agreed to have our breakfast that morning, the next day no breakfast, and third day claim our free breakfast.

The Breakfast was at Feria, the hotel’s restaurant. Upon entering, you will be overwhelmed with buffet tables of international food! There’s a buffet table for sweets: pastries, ice cream and fruits. Another buffet table to breads and marmalades, and juices. Another buffet table for salads. Another one for cereals. Yet another one for meats. As you move, you’ll see another station just for eggs, and another for Congee, and the farthest one is for Filipino breakfast with fried rice. All these — if only your tummy could have all — with free brewed coffee your heart could handle!

After our extremely sumptuous breakfast, we checked back at the Concierge if our room was ready, sadly, it still wasn’t. We waited patiently at the lobby sleepy and tired for another 2 hours. When we finally decided to check back again if our room was already okay, we were pleasantly surprised that our room was upgrade to an Executive Suite! It was great! We settled in our Suite and decided on our itinerary for that day and the next.

Our Itinerary

Searching through blogs, browsing through the Cebu coffee table book in our room, and plotting the supposed places in Google Maps we were able to finalize our itinerary:

Day 1: Lahug Vicinity

2:00 PM Lunch at AA BBQ and Grill (along Salinas Drive)

When you order here, that's the only time they cook your food. So you're assured that they are cooked fresh. Don't miss out on the P100 Baked Talaba! Yum!

3:30 PM Taoist Temple (30 mins)

The main Taoist Temple upon climbing a few flights of stairs. Get ready with your Arthrocin, Seniors! 🙂

4:30 PM Tops Lookout in Brgy. Busay

The view of Cebu Province from the Tops Lookout.

The view of the snack bars stalls and the lovely honeycomb pavement surrounded by greens.

5:45 PM Dinner at Casa Verde

Casa Verde is a house-turned-restaurant. It feels homey.

Casa Verde Menu 1

Casa Verde Menu 2

"Brian's Ribs" good for two! It's not the best, but definitely the best for its price!

7:30 PM Back to Hotel

Day 2: Downtown Cebu

12:00 nn lunch at Salo Salo Sutukil in Lapu Lapu City, Mactan Island near the Mactan Shrine

In front of the fresh catch where you will choose which fish to SUgba, TUlo or Tinola, and KILaw, or just one of the 3. :),

0.6 kg Alimango costing P408.00.

1:30 PM Shop souvenirs outside Sutukil Restaurant

Souvenir shops outside the line of Sutukil Restaurants.

1:45 PM Visit Mactan Shrine (Donation)

Lapu Lapu monument facing the sea. He's really goodlooking here!

2:00 PM Drive back to Downtown Cebu

2:30 PM Fort San Pedro (P30 Regular, P24 Senior Citizen, P20 Student)

Fort San Pedro

3:00 PM Walk 500 meters to Magellan’s Cross

Detail of the Magellan's Cross painting vis a vis the actual cross.

3:10 PM Cross to Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño de Cebu

The view of the Minor Basilica from outside. Locals would instead wave their hands at the Sto. Niño instead of make the sign of the cross. I waved mine, too. 🙂

3:30 PM Cross to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

4:00 PM Tabo-An Market for dried fish and other Cebu delicacies

Basketloads of dried fish! You can never have enough. 🙂

5:30 PM Back at Hotel

6:00 PM Free Evening Cocktails at the Hotel Lounge

7:30 PM Shopping at SM City Cebu

 

Other trip suggestions:

  • Bantayan Island
  • Casa George (Pasta place)
  • Casa Laguna (Filipino restaurant)
  • Cebu Heritage Monument
  • Harbour City Dimsum House
  • Asilo Church (St. Vincent de Paul Charity) with a reredo imported from Spain

The Verdict about Cebu: Guilty

Cebu is guilty as a place for great food. For people from Luzon, their cooking style is different. They give a different taste to the typical Lechon Kawali that we have here. Their soy dip (sawsawan) is also different with the additional tomatoes to the typical onion, soy sauce, and calamansi squeeze. For me, the best place to eat in Cebu sans the frills is the AA BBQ and Grill. You should try their Sizzling Squid (P320) which is all worth the price, and you just have to have their Baked Oysters priced only at P100 with almost 16 shells.  Their Lechon Kawali is soft and crispy at the same time. The meat just melts in your mouth. You should also try their other soup-based menus because they looked and smelled yummy from the table near us. For the western menu, you should try Casa Verde for Dinner (nice ambience at night) and enjoy the quaint interior and feel of the restaurant.

Sutukil, like what I have read in other blogs, is overpriced. Our bill for 1 whole Parrot fish, half kilo of prawns, and 0.6 kg of king crab (alimango) + cooking charges (P90 each cooking style) totalled P2,400 for 4 people. That’s P600 per head. You could already eat at a fancy restaurant with A/C, nice music, nice seats, and ambience. At a Sutukil restaurant, you get a personal “butler” service to shoo the flies away from you, pour your Coke for you, and crack crabs for you, smell the fishy sea, and get harassed by umbrella men who will put an umbrella over your head on your way to the Mactan Shrine which is about 50 meters away and demand for a “Merry Christmas” tip. Although I did have an impression that Cebuanos are generally kind people, generous with their time, and are very helpful. You can tell the kindness with the hotel staff. They are not as airy and discriminating of their customers. They are not suplada.

Cebu has a lot of history to offer and this should not be neglected in any trip. It is rich in history starting with Lapu Lapu and Magellan, and the evangelization of the Philippines. Among all the provinces in the Philippines, I am proud that Cebu (having Archbishop Palma there now and most likely previous equally strong Catholic leaders) has been strong in the faith ever since they were first evangelized.

Visit Cebu. I hope that you’ll have an enjoyable trip as I did with my family. 🙂

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