Cebu is a bustling tourist spot famed for its scenic beaches, Spanish Colonial structures, and other historic sites. Also known as Asia’s Cradle of Christianity, Cebu is not just the country’s first capital but is rich in history and culture. It’s also dubbed as the “The Gateway to a Thousand Journeys,” boasting savory dishes that will surely intrigue your palate. But what are the top street foods you should not miss in Cebu?
To find out, read on as we share the top 10 street foods from Cebu, perfect for your next vacation or food crawl at the Queen City of the South!
Have you ever heard of the Filipino street food called Balut? If you did, have you tried one yet? If you haven’t, it’s about time you give it a go! Balut is a popular delicacy in the Philippines, which has fascinated the culinary world for years. Despite its unattractive look, Balut offers a unique culinary experience to adventurous eaters.
This exotic street food contains a fertilized egg embryo, combining a yolk, savory soup, and a developing chick between 14-21 days old. Balut is also believed to have aphrodisiac effects, increasing fertility and male libido.
Another street food from Cebu, Isaw, is made of chicken intestine and seasoned with ketchup. The chicken intestine is skewered on a barbecue stick and cooked on a grill. Like Balut, you can find Isaw vendors on the sidewalks. This street food is sold with other types of barbecue, like pork meat, ears, blood (Betamax), and chicken head (Helmet).
Although it doesn’t look enticing, Isaw is undeniably delicious. The chicken intestines are also cleaned and boiled before grilling. But if you have a weak stomach, then skipping Isaw is the best since some contents may be left behind after cleaning.
Cebu has another classic street food influenced by the Chinese merchants from the pre-Spanish period. Aside from businesses, the Cebuanos have adapted Chinese food into their culture, such as the Siomai Sa Tisa. Originating from Barangay Tisa, the Siomai was inspired by the traditional dumpling shumai from the Chinese dim sum.
Therefore, the list of top street foods from Cebu won’t be complete without Siomai. Due to the food’s popularity, Barangay Tisa even hosts an annual event, Siomai sa Tisa Festival, every September. So, if you’re craving this comfort food, visit Barangay Tisa in Cebu, where you’ll find plenty of Siomai stalls.
Whenever visiting Cebu, Ngohiong or Ngo-Yong is another popular delicacy you should not miss. This Cebuano street food is a type of spring roll (lumpia) deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. Ngohiong is wrapped in rice paper and contains ubod (heart of palm), singkamas (jicama), garlic, onion, and other special spices.
This healthy snack is often sold in streets, food stalls, karinderia, and restaurants. You can even find it at Pungko-Pungko, where they sell various street and fried foods. Ngohiong is served with a special spicy sauce, complementing its tasty filling.
Also known as a spider shell or scorpion conch, Saang (Lambis Scorpius) is a conch shell often sold around Cebu’s street stalls. Like the regular Kinason or Aninikad Shells (Plicate conch), Saang is a gastropod with a shell and horns. It’s also meatier than Aninikad Shells.
This dish is often cooked by boiling or grilling and is commonly found near coastal towns where freshly caught seafood is abundant. Once cooked, you can pick the meat out of its shell or use a hammer. Then, dip the Saang meat into a spicy vinegar sauce – perfect as an appetizer, side dish, or snack!
Bakasi is another must-try street food from Cebu for exotic food fans. It’s a saltwater eel or reef eel often prepared as Linarang – a native Cebuano dish and cooking style of fish. It’s a Sour Stew that contains small eels that are abundant in Cordova, which is the Bakasi Capital of the Philippines.
Like most fishes, Bakasi is also rich in nutrients and protein. The locals also consider it an aphrodisiac food and prepare it in various ways, like frying, grilling, or kinilaw.
4. Tuslob Buwa
Tuslob Buwa is a popular street food from Cebu, which you can find in Barangay Pasil – the biggest seafood market in Cebu and throughout Visayas. This signature food is so cheap yet popular that even local celebrities and wealthy socialities from the metro go crazy about it.
The base of Tuslob Buwa, which means “dipping in bubbles,” is made of pork liver and brain. It’s sauteed with garlic, onions, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and other spices. Then, you dip the puso (rice balls) into the exotic bubbly paste while it’s hot.
Apart from exotic finds, another must-try street food from Cebu is Chicharon, which is often found on the sidewalk stalls or sold by hawkers along the streets and highway. But if you want to taste the best Chicharon in Cebu, there’s no better place to try it than the City of Carcar, where you’ll spot many Chicharon vendors.
Chicharon is a famous delicacy from Carcar, Cebu, famed for its crunchiness and tasty flavor. It’s made of pork rinds or bellies that are thinly sliced and deep-fried until golden and crispy – a mouthwatering street food perfect as a snack or appetizer!
Looking for a tasty yet exotic street food? Then, try the Cebuano version of Chicharong Bulaklak called Ginabot! This crunchy street food has been popular in the metro for decades – thanks to its salty, tasty, and crispy goodness. It consists of pig intestines that are salted and dried before being deep-fried.
Ginabot is best enjoyed with a vinegar sauce with slices of red chili and onions. Also, it’s paired with puso or hanging rice wrapped in palm leaves. It’s commonly served in “Pungko-Pungko” (Cebuano term for crouch or squat) or street food stalls offering different fried foods.
While Lechon is not street food, it’s the best dish Cebu offers. In fact, the dish is so popular that you can find it anywhere in Cebu, from sidewalks, markets, and karinderia to food fairs and restaurants. Thus, it’s no surprise you’ll see Lechon along the streets.
Lechon is not only famous in the Philippines. But it’s considered a world-class delicacy that even the celebrity chef and writer Anthony Bourdain called the dish “The best pig ever” when he visited the country for his show “No Reservations.”
It consists of a suckling pig stuffed with different herbs and spices traditionally cooked whole. Then, Lechon is served with gravy and rice – a tasty, tender, and crispy dish oozing with meaty goodness!