By: Cholo Ledesma
Expand your tastes beyond the classic dried mango.

We’ve all heard of the famous Cebu lechon, a tasty twist on a beloved staple for many grand family gatherings. We’ve gobbled down packs of our favorite pasalubong, dried mango and baked goodies. We’ve probably also tried Bisaya versions of adobo and longganisa. But have you discovered other gastronomical gems that Cebu has to offer? Here are five lesser-known Cebuano dishes and delicacies that should be on every foodie’s bucket list:

1. Kinilaw (Kilawin)

Coming from the root word ‘kilaw’ (to eat uncooked or fresh), kinilaw (or kilawin) is the Filipino version of ceviche or sashimi. Fresh, raw fish is cubed and prepared with coconut vinegar, onions, ginger, and sili for a dish that is both fresh and exploding with flavor. It’s so good, that perhaps the best kinilaw in the country can be found all over the island of Cebu — which is no surprise given its access to delicious seafood. Kinilaw made with tanigue fish is common, although the dish can be made with other types of fish, or even clams!

2. Tinuwa nga Isda

Tinuwa nga isda can be likened to tinola, but made with fish instead of chicken. It’s a simple and refreshing soup dish that is sure to warm your heart. Aside from the popular sinugba or grilled method, it’s a great way to introduce your tastebuds to the delicious fresh fish that can be found all over Cebu.

3. Pork Humba

Humba might look like your regular pork adobo, but this dish has a twist that actually makes it much sweeter! Aside from the soy sauce and vinegar we all love, this delicious, slow-cooked pork belly stew is made with an important ingredient: pineapple juice! This gives humba its sweet-salty taste. Served with taosi beans, pineapple, and banana blossoms, this delectable Cebuano ulam is not to be missed!

4. Paklay

If you’re looking to try a new and exciting pulutan, this tasty Cebuano dish might be right up your alley! Paklay is a popular pulutan among Cebu folk — it is a dish made with sliced beef, pork, or goat innards (liver, lungs, or heart), cooked with ginger, chili, and flavorful broth. Sometimes, it is mixed with bamboo shoots and pineapple, rounding out the taste to make a dish packed with flavor and texture. Perfect to try on a night out on the island!

5. Balbacoa

Balbacoa soup is popular in the Southern parts of the Philippines, and the Cebuano variant features a part you might not expect: ox trotters (or feet)! This makes a broth that is rich, tasty, and meaty. The meat is tender, and the whole dish is subtly flavored with star anise, ginger, and garlic. This hearty beef stew should be a staple for anyone going on a Cebu food trip!

Cebu is a treasure trove of delicious dishes that may be overlooked, and these five food offerings might be a good place to start your Cebu food adventure. After all, a little exploration could help you find exciting taste and beauty you deserve in your life. Who knows? That adventure could even lead to you create that beautiful life you deserve in Cebu!


The COHO Living Team.